As a meditative tool, mantras are extremely useful and highly effective. The repetitive nature of the syllables spoken, and the balanced, mirrored patterns of the sounds our lips utter when speaking mantras allows us to relay our concentration towards our inner space, our breathing, and the way our minds and bodies merge together and interact with each other. To speak a mantra isto meditate; as our minds become focused, our breathing steady, and our material bodies lost in the swirling and irresistible energies we produce.
One of the most potent techniques for achieving spiritual awareness and awakening is said to be the use of mantras as a form of meditative practice. For thousands of years in the Indian subcontinent and elsewhere, mantras have been spoken, sung, written and whispered by millions upon millions of devotees eager to unlock their unique and extraordinary power.
Mantra literally translates as ‘spoken softly’ in Sanskrit, and most commonly they are used today in religious services all over the world, where a series of words or syllables are chanted or sung, whilst accompanied by music or drumming. Within the Vaisnava tradition, the mahamantra is chanted slowly at the beginning of musical rituals, before picking up speed and becoming more melodious until the congregation are swept away by the transfixing and ecstatic power of the sound, with each member of the audience lost in the repetitions and the divine power of the words they are speaking.
Believers claim that certain mantras, such as the ancient mahamantra, form what is known as a ‘transcendental sound vibration’ – that is, that the sound the mantra makes is unique in the fact that it is non-different from God himself, and contains all the potentials of ultimate divine power. Even hearing such a mantra for the first time, without knowing its significance or importance, is said to have remarkable healing and redemptive qualities. However, mantras such as this one, and many, many others, are not simply sung and chanted. Mantras are commonly simply spoken to oneself in private, where the speaker can concentrate on the healing and empowering qualities of the sound vibration, and relate it to their own life, and their own needs and requirements.