People often say that a meditation practice is difficult to begin. But that’s because we haven’t been trained to think of ourselves as the spiritual beings we truly are. Sitting down to meditate for the first time can be uncomfortable for the mind – even painful. But the more we cultivate our spiritual nature, the more our spiritual nature will take a leading role in our lives.
The quest to explore our spiritual connection doesn’t have to happen through meditation alone. Mantra is another tool to bring you closer to the divine. When done with intention, mantra can deepen your meditation practice and your connection to the god of your heart, no matter your starting point.
It can be intimidating to look at a script for a traditional Sanskrit mantra and imagine chanting it during your practice. You may fear that someone could hear you or that your voice will not be clear and perfect. The beauty of mantra is that the inward chanting is actually more powerful than a vocal practice (some say 1,000 times more powerful, though both approaches are helpful). Repeating a mantra silently to yourself is a great way to internalize the energetic harmony of the words, raise your vibration and embody the intention. And if you do chant out loud, remember that this practice is not the same as singing a song. The purpose of mantra is to repeat an intention in Sanskrit, the sacred language whose vibration is said to welcome light and sattva. Trying to sing a mantra as a song can actually change its meaning so that it doesn’t serve the original purpose.
The teachings of Yoga, including mantra, were originally passed down through the tradition of shruti, or that which is heard. This oral tradition allowed students to learn mantra by listening to a teacher chant, not by reading a text. This meant sitting through a period of not knowing what was being chanted at first, then slowly joining in when the words and phrases became familiar. Because Sanskrit is not a language most people are familiar with now, working with the tradition of shruti at first can help you learn the pronunciations and intonations so you get the full effect of a mantra.
Students in Hale Pule’s Yoga teacher trainings as well as our guests learn mantra in the shruti tradition during our morning fire ceremonies, and you can do the same with our online videos. Or, seek out a local teacher who understands the power of mantra.
When you are familiar with mantra, it can be a regular tool for you to use in meditation or any part of your daily life when you want to take a break and realign your energy quickly. The old fears about not being able to focus your mind at will are easily overcome with mantra as a tool for spiritual development.
If you are new to mantra, try this video of one of our favorites here at Hale Pule, the Asato mantra. This mantra is about the peace that comes from being led out of the darkness and into the light, from untruth to truth and from death to immortality – all teachings we could all use a little more of these days.