The Mantra Manifesto: All About Om
Humans have been saying and repeating mantras ever since our cave dwelling ancestors started addressing gods and goddesses in speech and ritual. People have long believed in the power of a mantra’s meaning and/or sound to effect change and heal living things through vibrations within the body and throughout the universe. While mantras comprise major elements in Hinduism and Buddhism, they are also popularly practiced in many yoga studios, spas, and health clubs. How can a mantra make your day? Here’s a quick manifesto to guide your way.
“Mantras are life-changing words or sounds used in ritual and meditation,” says Steven Halpern, who has recorded healing mantras chanted and sung by Lama Surya Das and others on his record label, Inner Peace Music. “In most religions, a mantra is believed to embody the sound form of reality and carries the power to manifest the reality it symbolizes,” Halpern adds.
For example, the famous and elemental mantra “Om,” means “the ultimate reality” in Sanskrit. Om is also believed by many Tantrics, Hindus, and Buddhists to be the fundamental mantra from which all others flow. Hindus believe that when an individual chants Om, she or he is literally living and breathing ultimate reality—and radiating more of it into the universe.
“Chanting “Om” out loud for five minutes before you get out of bed every morning is an easy, pleasurable way to begin experimenting with the healing power of mantras,” says yoga teacher Stephen Brown, who incorporates heartfelt Oms in his classes at Rancho la Puerta in Tecate, Mexico. “Notice how the sound of Om vibrating through your body makes you feel,” Brown continues, “Most people tell me that chanting “Om” energizes and grounds them, fostering calm and clarity.”
If you’re beginning to believe that Om holds some power to help effect positive change, then you’re on your way to reaping the benefits of this mantra. “The most powerful element of any mantra practice is faith, or the certainty that it works,” says Los Angeles-based yoga teacher Mark Whitwell, author of Yoga of Heart, (Lantern Books, 2004), which explains mantras and how to practice them. “Hundreds of generations of saints, sages, and people like you have been saying Om and other mantras to help them manifest the best in their lives,” Whitwell explains. “Many people have written and said that these mantras have gathered power over time. Whether you believe that or not,” Whitwell assures, “Faith in their use has the power to change and/or heal one’s life.” Got that? Now breathe, believe, and say, “Ommmmmmmmmmm.”