The word mantra means ‘mind protection’, used in a similar way to an affirmation, it uses repeated sounds to bring the mind into balance. Mantra’s can aid deeper states of meditation, they can be spoken, chanted or said quietly in your mind.
Matching your mantra to your breath – breathing in, pause, breathing out, means that your mantra can be practiced in meditation as well as while you walk, wait for a bus, work at a desk or as you drop off to sleep at night.
There are many different mantra’s used for different reasons and benefits. For some people, a mantra can help to focus and calm the mind, for others it allows them to develop a deeper spiritual connection or receive blessings. They certainly help to develop positive qualities within, so they are worth exploring.
In our Zen practice I often use the heart sutra (Hannya Shingyo) to start our practice, sometimes we listen to the full version and other times we chant:
Gyate Gyate, Hara Gyate, Hara So Gyate, Boji Sowake
You don’t need to understand the words to gain the benefit, you can simply allow yourself to become absorbed in the sounds and act of chanting. Listen to the full Japanese Heart Sutra here:
A variation of this chant is expressed:
Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha
The Tibetan Buddhist Mantra of “OM AH HUM” purifies your body, speech and mind, bringing blessings and purifying the environment, self and others. The aim is to release our negativity and move forward in a more positive way.
OM – represents the body and we ask to purify our actions
AH – represents our speech and we ask to purify our words
HUM (Hung) – represents our mind and we ask to purify our thoughts
This can be chanted or said in the mind as we breathe: inhale – Om, hold – Ah, exhale – Hum.
The yogic mantra of “OM SO HUM” can be used in a similar way: inhale -Om, hold – So, exhale – Hum.
OM – the sound of universe
SO HUM – I am that
By chanting Om So Hum, we are saying I am one with the universe. “We realise that we are all one, we have all come from one Infinite Source, and a part of that infinite source is present in all of us. We are all connected.” (Meditative Mind)
Listen to the soothing sounds of Om So Hum here:
(Buddha photo by Sabine Schulte)