The traditional uses of the word Mantra are repetitive inspirational and resonating sounds that help to relax and rejuvenate. Literal translation in Sanskrit it means – thought instrument (man + tra ) or instrument of thought concentration.
These sounds, when used appropriately, can be extremely beneficial for both physical and mental health.
Information OR misinformation
In past it was very difficult to get much information about mantra, particularly after the decline of Gurukul Education system in India. Over thousand years ago, Sanskrit and Gurukul Education system prospered very well under the patronage of the rulers and people who lived on Indian subcontinent at that time. Under the Muslim and British rule the funding for both Sanskrit and Gurukul institutions was reduced to almost extinction. As a result information on mantras and other Vedic practices become very scarce. While there were few selfless and dedicated scholars who practiced and taught vedic knowledge, most self-seeking Gurus taught mantras in secrecy for their own power and influence. As a result many distortions and erroneous practices were also introduced.
Mantra Tailored for Individual Needs
Sometimes there was good reason for this secrecy as the mantras had to be tailored for personal need for each individual based on their personality and needs. Some mantras have calming effect, others are very energising. Based on individual needs and personality mantras should be carefully chosen, as same mantra could have different effect of different individual.
How to choose most suitable Mantra
Good news is that now days there is lot of information available to us, we can easily experiment to find what works for us the best, with extreme care of course. If need be take help of a friend who knows or even some experts or professionals as well. We still need to take our own care and responsibility.
There are many universal mantras that seem to work for wide range of people and have resonance sounds that have proved highly useful. One such mantra is the sound “OM” Chanting OM improves mental concentration and relaxation. It is also very helpful in improving the breathing and engages all parts of body from navel to head, when chanted properly. There are many other popular mantra like Hare Rama Hare Krishna, Om Namah Shivaya, Wahe Guru, Hari Om etc. Whichever resonates most and suits individual personality can be incorporated in the breathing and mediation practice.
What are your experiences with using mantras as tool to enhance meditation, relaxation and thinking?
Catchy slogans, cheers and chants are used to enhance the mood of joy during sports and other celebrations. Battle cries have been used to increase aggression in the military units. More research is needed to use sound for benefit of humanity in controlling thoughts, improve relaxation and increase wellbeing. The research, evolution and progress in this field dramaticalled slowed down in Indian subcontinent couple of thousand years ago due to historical events in the region. Now it is gradually picking up in the UK, USA, India, Europe and many other countries. More needs to be done and we all can play role to individually contribute by sharing our observations and experiences for benefit of everyone.
Share your comments, suggestions and ideas.