Mantras: How To
A mantra – whether chanted, whispered or spoken silently – is a powerful tool to free our minds of background chatter, soothe our nervous systems and reaffirm our intentions throughout the day. The word mantra – derived from the Sanskrit manas (mind) and tra (tool) – literally means ‘tool for the mind’ and the technique of reciting mantras has been used for thousands of years in eastern religions. Several more recent research studies also suggest that repeating a mantra that works for you can help you to relax and cope with stress. Whether you sit in a meditation pose to say your mantra or simply run the phrase through your head as you go about your day-to-day activity, the simple act of repetition can bring a powerful sense of inner calm.
Here are four of our favourites:
‘I am, I am’
This mantra is an anglicised version of ‘So’ham’, literally meaning ‘I am [s]he/that’. A Hindu mantra, it has been used for thousands of years as a way of identifying with the universe and the ultimate reality. Practising ‘I am, I am’ can calm the mind, bring mental clarity and a sense of inner peace and boost our feeling of connection with the world around us.
‘Breathe in: I send myself love. Breath out: I send love to someone who needs it.’
This mantra is rooted in the philosophy of Tonglen, a Tibetan Buddhist meditation practice. Tong means ‘giving’ or ‘sending’ and len means ‘taking’ or ‘receiving’, so the practice fosters a sense of altruism and reciprocity, emphasising our connection with others. Using the breath to reinforce the words enables us to feel the sensation of receiving love from others and sending our own love out to them through our body as well as our mind.
‘It’s not the world that defines me. I myself define who I am’
This mantra is a way of reinforcing the importance of our true selves in the face of challenging circumstances. So often our self-perception and identity are based on who we think we’re supposed to be or how we think we’re supposed to behave, creating a fake identity that changes according to our surroundings. But who we truly are has nothing to do with the labels we wear – our authentic selves can only be experienced by tapping into the core of our existence, ignoring the changing self that merely responds. The mantra is a start in acknowledging this – the key is to live it!
‘I am light’
And finally, we asked Gazelli Reiki Master Jasmin Harsono for her own favourite mantra for troubled times:
‘I am light’ is one of my favourite affirmations. It’s very simple but it’s also beautiful. It brings the focus to my own inner light, wisdom and power. And at this time of year, it is also a reminder that the beauty of spring is upon us, with lighter and longer days arriving.
For the duration of the COVID-19 lockdown, we have put together a weekly menu of online events to help you to cope and to keep our community connected. We hope that these might provide an anchor in these turbulent times and a small space within your day when you can breathe and feel supported by our network of like-minded people. You can find out more about how to join in here.