Updated: Apr 2, 2021
Clear your throat chakra and connect with your personal power
by using your most potent inbuilt healing device: Your Amazing Voice!
The word ‘mantra’ is made up of two Sanskrit words: manas which means ‘mind’ and tria which means ‘to protect’ or to ‘free from’ which is why practicing mantra is known as the ‘mind protector’. “Mantra meditation is not only something one practices, but a radical re-envisioning of ourselves, our lives and our ability to create the future we desire” (Ashley-Farrand, 2010: ix).
Chanting a mantra for a prolonged period of time can bring many benefits to our lives; they enhance breathing and lung capacity, strengthen vocal chords and bring about positive chemical changes within the body such as helping to balance the autonomic nervous system – the place of fight, flight, freeze and calm. Chanting a mantra lowers the adrenal response that releases the stress hormone cortisol and increases dopamine, known as the pleasure hormone (Cooper, 2016).
With continued mantra work the mind becomes completely still” (Ashely-Farrand, 2010:4). The vibrational energy created in the body when chanting a mantra is incredibly healing and soothing and can rebalance the chakras, particularly the throat and heart chakras (energy centres), reduce stress levels and increase the ‘love’ hormone oxytocin (Goldman, 2019). Sufi Master Vilayat Inayat Khan sates that that the practice of Mantra actually “kneads the flesh of the body with sound” (Cited in Ashely-Farrand, 1999:8).
“The great mantras are thousands of years old, handed down orally from mater to disciple, student and apprentice. In essence they are golden vibrations of light, transmitting the deepest communion with subatomic particles, molecules and cells of or body-minds, awakening the energies of Love” (Goodchild, 2015: 110).
Chanting a mantra can help with:
- Feeling more relaxed and peaceful
- Improving concentration
- Managing illness and releasing ‘dis-ease’
- Promoting good health and wellbeing
- Increasing energy
- Improving your breathing and clears your nasal passages
- Dealing more positively with life situations and challenges
- Setting intentions to bring about life-enhancing changes
- Rebalancing the left and right hemispheres of the brain
Reciting mantras in mediation is incredibly grounding and beneficial on so many levels and can help you to get through life’s ups and downs with much more ease.
“Mantra meditation is not magic, but the results can be magical” (Ashely-Farrand, 2010: x) and I have been a great fan of using mantra as a form of meditative practice since I first went to a New Year’s Eve celebration at Madhyamaka Buddhist Centre in 2014. At midnight, over one hundred attendees repeated the mantra ‘Om Mane Padme Hum’ in unity 108 times and the energy in the room was incredible. I was familiar with Om Mane Padme Hum from my Reiki training many moons ago but I hadn’t connected with it for a long time and had forgotten its potency. As I joined in that night my heart filled and I knew I was exactly where I was meant to be.
Chanting a mantra 108 times is said to be the ‘number for completion and wholeness’ and before I left Madhyamaka on New Year’s Day I purchased a set of 108 snowy quartz Mala Beads and made a commitment to trying mantra as another alternative ‘medicine’ towards my recovery from chronic fatigue. Most spiritual developments, regardless of religion or belief, involve the number forty which is perceived as a ‘universal time period’ for structured spiritual practice (Ashely-Farand, 1999; 2010). Forty days is the amount of time for the most effective response when chanting a mantra; after that point the mantra is ingrained into your body, mind, and soul and into the 108 mala beads that you practice with (www.thejourneyjunkie.com). Dawn and dusk are also said to be the most powerful time for your mantra meditation practice.
The first mantra I chose was to invoke the healing of the Medicine Buddha and although it was lengthy I felt it was the right one to do at that time. I enlisted the help of Deva Premal’s album ‘Healing Mantras’ to help keep me motivated and to deepen my practice.
I joined the York Yoga Studio and attended a restorative yoga class at with Marilyn Dean who used mantra in her classes. We would join Marilyn for chanting ‘Om’ as well as other mantras, and I loved the passion and positivity she invoked for each mantra. Within a few weeks I began to feel sensation and warmth in my feet, which I hadn’t felt for a couple of years! Marilyn introduced me to Muz Murray’s work and I bought his mantra CD to help with pronunciation. After working with the Medicine Buddha mantra for a few months I began working with the mantra for Ganesha – Om Gum Ganapataye Namaha. This mantra is for removing obstacles and fear had become a huge obstacle for me that was blocking my recovery.
Marilyn also introduced me to the work of Chloe Goodchild and we attended a retreat called ‘Your Naked Voice’ ( Goodchild, 2015). During the retreat, sixty attendees and facilitators were led by Chloe into meditation and mantras. We were guided each day to use our ‘authentic voice’ alongside free movement to help release emotional distress by using our voice as a therapeutic tool. My journey continued with mantra when I attended my first Kirtan with James Boag. Following his lead and sounding various mantras in circle was just incredible and I have attended many of his Kirtan since. James currently runs Kirtan classes online over Zoom, which I highly recommend. http://www.jamesboagyoga.com/
I have used various mantras a different times depending what resonates with me and the intention and energy that is invoked when chanting the mantra. When I was desperate to walk again I chanted the mantra for liberation – Om Namo Baghavate Vasudevaya, which I also used when I was looking for a new home. The Gayatri mantra is said to be the most ancient and powerful and is one of my favourites. I often listen to Deva Premal’s two hour version for days and have a lovely version by my teacher Rosemary Stephenson, which you can access from her website: http://www.celestiallighthealers.com/celestial/product/gaiatri-mantra-cd/
Throughout the years I have dipped in and out of various Sanskrit mantras and of course I have my favourites. When I moved into my new home and met new friends I began a ‘Chanting Tuesday’s’ group at my house; a small group of us met to connect with sound and set intentions for healing ourselves and beyond. I really miss our gatherings and the combined energy and intention for the good of ourselves as an ever evolving species and for our beautiful Earth. Sound healer Jonathan Goldman states that “when we heal ourselves we heal the planet and when we heal the planet we heal ourselves” (2020).
For the last few weeks I have working with the mantra for Ganesha as a daily practice and it is this mantra that I would like to share with you in or first mantra meditation class. The obstacle I have set the intention for removing is my ‘procrastinating self’ as this has always been an issue for me and frankly, it is time for that aspect of my life to go! I don’t believe I would be writing this post if I hadn’t set this intention!
The Ganesha mantra is also incredibly earthy and grounding and fantastic for visualising a huge elephant clearing the path of any obstacles with its trunk. The more I work with this mantra the more I sense great herds of elephants alongside me, and more recently, we are accompanied by rows and rows of other Earth keepers and animals. “Mantra is a dynamic, individual, non-violent way to approach conditions you wish to change” (Ashley-Farrand 1999:9). When I chant this mantra I feel an intention building within for clearing the path so that humanity will care more deeply for the earth and focus less on materialism, fear and greed. With each step and each sweep of the elephants’ trunks we send healing down into the core of the planet to restore balance, harmony and peace. Being joined with such an amazing band of Earth keepers in my morning practice is the most amazing way to start my day.
Mantra is a proactive way to approach conditions you wish to change; fuelled with positive intention chanting mantra is powerful, uplifting and can help with so many aspects of our lives. When practiced regularly as a form of meditation and spiritual development it can help to transform your way of thinking and being.
My strong sense is that we are currently in a climate where we need more clarity of mind and very much where there is a need to ‘protect’ our mind from the constant bombardment of fear induced thinking…where better to start than with a collective practice that has been used successfully for thousands of years!
Ashely-Farrand, T Mantra Meditation: Change your Karma with the Power of Sacred Sound
2010 Sounds True. Canada.
Ashely-Farrand, T Healing Mantras: Using Sound Affirmation for Personal Power,
1999 Creativity and Healing. The Random House Publishing. Toronto
Cooper, L. What is Sound Healing?
2016 Watkins Media Limited. London.
Goodchild, C. Your Naked Voice: Transforming Your Life Through the Power of Sound.
2015 North Atlantic Books. California
Murray, M. Mantras of Empowerment