MANTRAS - keeping

the mind steady

The The word mantra is derived from two Sanskrit words. Its first syllable comes from manas, or “mind,” and the second syllable is drawn from the Sanskrit word tra, which means “to protect” or “to free from.” Therefore, a mantra is a tool, used by the mind, that eventually frees us from the fluctuations of the mind. A mantra keeps the mind steady.

 

Mantra develops the states of pratyahara and dharana. It provides a base or support on which the mind can rest so that it does not become unconscious. As the mental tensions and distractions diminish, the awareness and concentration improves.

Mantras are vibrated through : 

 

- JAPA MANTRA repetitive mental practice. The verb jap means to repeat something softly. Japa is the personal, private, and meditative recitation of mantra. 

- KIRTAN chanting aloud, often socially. These sounds penetrate the depths of the unconscious mind and adjust the vibration of all aspects of our being.

- LISTENING in to them.

By concentrating on the mantra, the mind forgets about everything else, habits can be removed this way. Mantras can be practiced anywhere, wherever we are, the mantra is with us. By repeating it constantly, a part of the mind gets linked to that, guiding us. ‘As you think, so you become’

 

Japa Mantra can be used for a variety of purposes ;

 

  • To create in general or specific areas of life

  • To tap into powers of positive thinking

  • To help with mental disorders

  • To gain spiritual awareness and understanding

  • To help manage pain and illness

  • Generally improve the quality of life

  • To learn to focus on the pursuit of dreams

 

For instance, a person may use a given mantra to help them become happier. It doesn’t matter whether this mantra is specifically meant for this use or not. If a person believes that it will work for them, then it definitely does.

OM - sound of

the universe 

 

Om is a small word that carries a multitude of meanings. The word Om appears to have originated in the Upanishads, which tells us that ‘Om is what has been, what is and what shall be’. Om represents everything - the beginning, the middle and the end, the past, the present and the future. It encompasses all sounds - mankind, nature, machinery ... it is the hum of the earth.

 

Patanjali states ;

 

1.27 Tasya vacakah pranavah. (Vacaka: expressive name; tasya: of that; pranava: syllable Om.) The word expressive of Isvara is the mystic sound OM

Isvara, translates as ‘Supreme Being’, ‘Intelligence’, ‘Brahman’, ‘Ultimate Reality’ or ‘True Self’ 

OM is an attempt to audibly describe the Indescribable. An audible expression or reflection of the supreme - the “hum” of the universe.  Just as a mandala is a visible symbol for Isvara, OM is an audible symbol. We can use the sound to go beyond the sound in the same way that asana uses the body to go beyond the body.

The joining purpose you give OM makes all the difference :

1.28 Taj-japas tad-artha-bhavanam.(Japa: repetition; tad: that; bhavana: contemplation; tad-artha: its meaning.) To repeat it with reflection upon its meaning is an aid.

 

Oṁ is identified with Brahman. Brahman is the name given to the Absolute Truth in the Upanishads -- and both oṁ and Brahman in turn become identified with Īśvara. In the Yoga Sūtras, Īśvara is presented as the most important object upon which to fix the mind in order to still it, and one does this through performing japa on oṁ, His signifier, “keeping its meaning in mind” Edwin F. Bryant.

Patanjali tells us that repeating OM while reflecting upon its higher meaning, rather than just making sounds mechanically can help your spiritual progress. You can repeat it aloud or silently to yourself. You can repeat it in a Yoga class with others and use its resonance to generate an experience of shared oneness in form as a reflection of a shared oneness in mind.

The syllable Om is composed of the three sounds ‘A’, ‘U’ and ‘M’ - AUM.

  • 'A' (pronounced as an elongated “awe”) - this sound represents the beginning - the creation of the universe and everything within it. It has been described as symbolising the ‘conscious or waking state’. The sound originates in the belly, and vibrates in the upper chest. The tongue stays in the lower part of the mouth and the lips are parted, creating a feeling of openness.

  • 'U' (a prolonged “oooh” sound) - this sound signifies the steadiness that carries you along and the energy that preserves and sustains you and the world. From the 'A' sound, the lips begin to move together and the sound gradually moves forward, rolling along the upper palate and vibrating in the throat.

  • 'M' (“mmmm” sound) - characterises the sound of closing in and the beginning of the end, the force of culmination, completion, finalisation. Here the tongue comes to the top of the mouth and the lips come together to create a protracted humming noise.

  • The sound of silence - There is also a fourth sound: silence; the residue we are left with once the breath and the sound fades away. Arising from stillness, maintained by steadiness and fading back into silence.

Om represents the fact that everything constantly changes - from movement into stillness, from sound into silence, the endless cycle of life.

It is a variation of OM that we see as the ‘Amen’ or ‘Ameen’.. Truth is always the same. Wherever you sit for meditation, you will ultimately end in experiencing OM or the hum. But when you want to express what you experienced, you may use different words depending on your capacity or the language you know. - Sri Swami Satchidananda  LISTEN

Selecting the right name or word for japa is important. Any word can keep the mind focussed, but some might lead you into difficulty later on. If you repeat war war war war one day you will be at war. Repeating OM can only lead you to truth. Select your mantra : LISTEN

In all japa meditation the mind is to be fixed without deviation on the mantra (Yoga Sūtras I.28 and 32), and this practice requires prolonged regular effort (I.12–13).

 
 

KIRTAN - chanting

 

A kirtan is a call-and-response style song or chant, set to music, wherein multiple singers recite or describe a legend, or express loving devotion to a deity, or discuss spiritual ideas. 

 

The word kirtan, translates as ‘telling, narrating, reciting or describing’ As was the way with the ancient world, everything was transmitted orally via spoken Sanskrit until the knowledge was written down by sages and scholars. 

 

Many students today find that the practice deepens their sense of spiritual connection while extending a feeling of community. 

 

Whether the effect is from the specific vibrations created in the tonality of certain Sanskrit words as claims in the Rig Veda, or arises from simply being in the joy of singing and breathing, is the subject of some lively discussion.

 

Despite the pleasant and affirming experiences many students report, some studios discourage chanting because there are many other students, especially those new to Yoga, who feel that chanting is weird and an esoteric religious ritual. Cultivating and tapping into your authentic spiritual sensibilities while being attuned to the openness of your students will help guide you in whether or when to bring chanting into your classes. Consider your class composition, goal and location when utilising chantings. A long chant might be off-putting to students who don't know or understand it, and an invitation to Ganesha (one of the Hindu deities) might not be welcome to those of other religious beliefs, if not previously advertised.

  • LOKASHEMA : GLOBAL WELLBEING LISTEN

Lokah samastah sukinoh bhavantu 

 

Translation:

May all beings everywhere be happy and free.

 

Why chant it: It’s non-religious and a blessing for all beings. It’s the perfect mantra to teach to yoga students. This mantra reinstates within us the idea that we should love both ourselves and others. It promotes our compassion and dissipates our ill-will and envy.

Om bhur bhuvaḥ swaḥ
Tat-savitur vareñyaṃ
Bhargo devasya dhīmahi
Dhiyo yonaḥ prachodayāt

 

Translation :

Through the coming, going and the balance of life

The essential nature illuminating existence is the adorable one

May all perceive through subtle intellect

The brilliance of enlightenment.

 

Why chant it: This is one of the oldest and most highly revered Sanskrit mantras. The Gayatri mantra first appeared in the Rig Veda, it’s mentioned in the Upanishads as an important ritual and in the Bhagavad Gita as the poem of the Divine. 

 

 

Sarvesham svastir bhavatu

Sarvesham shantir bhavatu 

Sarvesham purnam bhavatu 

Sarvesham mangalam bhavatu.

 

Translation: 

May there be well-being for all

May there be peace for all

May there be wholeness for all

May there be happiness for all

 

And the shorter version:

Om śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ

 

Translation: Om Peace Peace Peace

 

Why chant it: Because we could all use more peace in our lives.

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