According to Yogic Philosophy, the universe is made of sound or energy. This is actually scientifically proven. For all of you who have taken basic chemistry, you know that our bodies and all matter in the universe is made of energy, at its simplest level. This energy is vibrating and moving all the time, which is the definition of sound, really. Mantras are chants, or sounds. Mantras were derived from Hinduism’s oldest scripture, the Rig-Veda. With time, they have been drawn from other sources as well.
The building blocks of mantras are the 50 characters in the Sanskrit alphabet but they can be a single character or a whole string of sounds. “Man” comes from the verb “man” which means to think, and “tra” which denotes instrumentality. Therefore, mantra is an instrument of thought that can lead to enlightenment and the intensification of our consciousness. Spiritually, mantras are said to calm the fluctuations of our consciousness and steer us in the direction of our Source.
When looking for a place to learn mantra, look for classes with “japa,” the other word for mantra. Also, be sure to pronounce the words correctly, otherwise the mantra becomes useless. You can listen to mantra clips on yogajournal.com .
Why should you learn mantras you ask? Think of mantras in another way: So many of us have things that we “chant” every day like “I’m fat,” “I’m angry,” “I hate her,” and on and on. The expression “I’ll believe it when I see it” should actually be “I’ll see it when I believe it” because we have a choice of what to focus our energies on. The more you tell yourself negative things, the more you are going to live a negative life. The more you chant mantras like “I am peaceful” or “Om Namah Shivaaya,” the more you will begin to fill your life with positive light and energy and the more you will be able to accept your fluctuating emotions, as one might notice the wafting clouds, acknowledge their presence and significance, and move on.
At the end of the of your practice, the teacher will say “Namaste” which is an incredible thing to say. Namaste means “the divine in me recognizes the divine in you.”
Attend a Kirtan or read this article and listen to the examples they have for people who are young to mantras and chanting. However, use mantras only if you are sincere in your practice. Understand fully the meaning of what you are chanting. Mantras and chanting can transform your life if you believe they will.
sources: yogajournal.com and sansktirmantra.com