The Magic of Mantra

I took a wonderful “Warrior” yoga class at Gaia Flow Yoga  http://gaiaflowyoga.com/ in Addison a few weeks ago.  The class was taught by one of the studio’s owners Chrystal.  I could go on for paragraphs about how great the class was, but I will leave that for another post.  Today I wanted to focus on the mantra that she introduced during Savasana.

Blissful Savasana

Chrystal did not introduce the phrase as a mantra as she softly repeated the words “Rest…rest.  All is well.  Rest…rest.  All is as it should be.”  As I heard her words over and over again, I started feeling more relaxed as a great sense of comfort came over me.  I realized that the words she was repeating were powerful.  They were a mantra in their own right.  This powerful mantra allowed me to let go even more during this final resting pose.  I am actually getting goose-bumps writing this because I remember the intense effect of these words.

You may be wondering, “What is a mantra?”. 

“A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that are considered capable of “creating transformation”. Their use and type varies according to the school and philosophy associated with the mantra”…….
“The Sanskrit word mantra- (m.; also n. mantram) consists of the root man- “to think” (also in manas “mind”) and the suffix -tra, designating tools or instruments, hence a literal translation would be “instrument of thought”  ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mantr).

Transformative words and phrases are used in almost every type of religion. Mantras are frequently used in Hinduism and Buddhism, and they are also found in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.  

In Christianity, prayers are powerful words sent thru the Holy Spirit directly to the consciousness of God.  In Catholicism there are prayers such as Our Father (Paster noster) and Hail Mary (Ava Maria) especially when prayed as the Rosary, that can be considered mantras.  In Eastern Christianity mantras are widely used and more popular than in Western Christianity practices. The Jesus Prayer is the most popular mantra used in Eastern Christian churches.  This formal prayer is uttered repeatedly….

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.”

As a child I remember repeating The Lords Prayer on the way to and from the bathroom in the middle of the night to protect me from anything lurking in the shadows!  These words for me held a protective shield against all things that would want to harm me.

In Hinduism, Mantras are considered to be charged with vibrational power.  Not just the phrase, but each individual letter contains a unique vibration which can alter ones consciousness.  The most basic mantra is Aum.  It is considered to be the “primordial vibration”, the first manifested vibration from Brahman (God, the unmanifested reality/unreality)  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mantra).

Sankrit Aum

I have been fortunate to be in many yoga classes where the first thing we are instructed to do is find a comfortable seated position such as lotus, and chant the mantra of Aum together as a group.  For those of you that have experienced this you will probably agree with me when I say that it is a powerful experience.  There is something powerful about a group of people repeating that beautiful sound/word in unison.

There are strict rules in most religions on what is considered a mantra and what is not.  Some Hindu Tantra practices consider only the correct pronunciation of a mantra, to hold the transformative spiritual powers.  I come from the school of practice where if something works for you, let it work for you!  Just as I found Chrystal’s mantra of “Rest….rest. All is well.  Rest…rest.  All is as it should be.”  to be powerful, I often find positive phrases to repeat to myself that bring me peace or remind me to breathe deeply. 

One of my favorite mantras that I repeat to myself when starting my practice to establish my breath meditation is “Breathe in life (inhale), exhale stagnate energy (exhale).  Open my heart (inhale), release and let go (exhale).”  Works for me!

Watercolor art by Jody Uttal

I encourage you to start a mantra practice.  It is up to you whether you choose to use a traditional mantra from your chosen religion, or repeat your own mantra that you make up.  What is important is that you find something that resonates with your true self. Clear your mind and allow the mantra’s words and sounds to sink in and positively transform your awareness.

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