Successful, happy, adventurous, safe—we’re all dreaming of an amazing life for ourselves! Whether you think that the grass is greener in a stable nine-to-five job or you find the freedom of roaming gypsy life more appealing, next time you ask yourself, What kind of life do I want?, remember that there’s a mantra for that!
What is A Mantra?
Mantra, or vehicle for the mind, is the ancient practice of repeating a word or phrase multiple times. You may unconsciously work with mantras on a daily basis. For example, do you ever catch yourself saying, “I hate my body” or “This is never going to work” or “I’m not good enough”? Those are indeed mantras, though negative ones, which only serve to feed the thousands of other Automatic Negative Thoughts in your mind. In fact, most of the thoughts you think are ones repeated from the day before, and the day before that. Each thought you think creates a little groove in the circuitry of the brain. Since that’s the case, you really ought to be more selective about which ones you’re polishing!
In Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Health, Happiness, and Wisdom, author Rick Hanson explains that you can change your mind … to change your brain … to change your mind! What luck! This means if you intentionally choose positive, more expansive thoughts, you can change your life for the better.
Since the thoughts you think create the reality you live in, singing, chanting, speaking, or repeating the following mantras silently can make a difference. As author Thomas Ashley-Farrand writes in Healing Mantras: Using Sound Affirmations for Personal Power, Creativity, and Healing, mantras can be used by people of any religion or spiritual practice, or during any activity—of course during meditation, but they can also be used as you walk, clean, cook, and during other mindless tasks.
1. AUM or OM
AUM or OM is the universal vibration, with each sound (Aaa—Uoo—Mmm) said to represent creation, manifestation, and destruction. Consider what are you sending out into the world on the sound waves of your OM and focus on an intention. Dedicate your OM to your own well-being, to your family, to your community, or to the world. Like a pebble dropped into a still pond, allow your OM to ripple out.
- Chant one to three times before beginning your yoga asana practice
- Chant one to three times to close a yoga asana practice
- Chant before or after seated meditation
- Chant anytime, anywhere
2. Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
A sweet Sanskrit chant with a lovely translation: “May all beings everywhere be happy and free. May our thoughts, our words, and our actions, contribute in some way to that happiness and freedom.” This mantra may be chanted or sung as an offering of loving-kindness to all beings, including yourself.
- Chant before or after yoga asana practice
- Chant before or after seated meditation
- Sing it with kids as a lesson in compassion, inclusivity, and tolerance
- Write it down in your journal after a challenging day
3. So Hum
Translated from Sanskrit, this mantra means “I am.” “I am” is a complete sentence! This mantra is great for balancing the Root Chakra, getting grounded in self-love, and connecting with your “enoughness.” Try taking on further affirmations if it feels right for you: I am here now. I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I am safe. I am becoming. I am enough.
- Say it five times out loud before an interview
- Say it while standing in a power pose
- Do a journaling “free write” and fill three pages with add-ons to “I am …”
4. Asatao ma sadgamaya / Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya / Mrtyorma amrtam gamaya / Om shanti shanti shanti
This mantra comes from the Upanishads, one of the ancient philosophical yogic texts from India. It translates to “Lead me from the untruth to truth, lead me from darkness to light, lead me from death to immortality, Om peace, peace, peace.”
- Chant it in Kirtan with a group of people
- Chant before embarking on a journey
- Chant at the beginning of the year, change of the season, or birthday
Use the bija mantras, or one-syllable seed sounds, to stimulate and unblock each chakra. Respectively, each sound aligns with the seven major energy centers: Muladhara, Svadistana, Manipura, Anahata, Visshudha, Ajna, and Sahasrara. Chant these mantras when you’re feeling out of balance in any area of your life.
- Use this mantra as pranayama: inhale fully and then chant all the sounds on the exhale
- Sing this mantra seven times, once for each chakra
- Choose one sound that really resonates with you and repeat that one several times
6. Om Namoh Lakshmi, Om Namoh Lakshmi, Om Namoh Lakshmi, Prema Devi Mataji
This mantra calls on the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi for abundance, beauty, health, luminosity, and love. There are many chants for Lakshmi. This mantra translates to “Oh Mother Lakshmi! Goddess of good fortune, prosperity, and beauty. Goddess of love, I bow to you.” Call on Lakshmi when you’re feeling dull or preparing for a big change.
- Say before or after a heart-opening yoga asana practice
- Say before or after meditation focused on abundance
- Chant this mantra with a group of women
- Sing when starting a new business
7. Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha
This mantra summons the Hindu Deity Ganesha, the beloved elephant-headed trickster known as the remover of obstacles and master of knowledge. This mantra translates to “Salutations to Ganesha, the remover/breaker of obstacles, we call your name!” Call on Ganesha to clear your path when you feel stuck or creatively blocked, when you need a change of perspective, or when life feels especially challenging and you’re not sure why.
- Say before embarking on a journey
- Say when you feel afraid
- Say silently during a difficult work meeting
- Say during a tense period in a close relationship
If you’d like, set up a dedicated time of day to practice mantra with an altar. Place items on your altar associated with the life you desire. Consider areas of change and areas that are already working. Move your fingers across a mala necklace or use your fingers to track the number of times you chant your chosen mantra.
These powerful sounds can be practiced just about anywhere. How about on a walk or a bike ride? What about in the shower or in the car? Or chant while you move through asana. It truly does not matter where or when you practice mantra, the question to ask is: What is the intention behind the chant? The act of repetition is meditative in itself. And if none of these are doing the trick, make up your own mantra to create the life you desire!