When trying to bring peace into one’s life or to retrain one’s thought patterns, using mantras can be extremely useful. A mantra can be any word or set of words used repeatedly to create an effect in the mind and in life, like an affirmation. I prefer Sanskrit mantras because they have been used for thousands of years and have been honed over that time for specific effects, and there generally aren’t any associations that the words in one’s native language may have. Sanskrit has also been used only for spiritual purposes for thousands of years since it ceased being a common language. When using a sound that is not in one’s daily language we are using our right hemisphere, the part of the brain associated with music, art and feeling of oneness; the area that we want to activate for an optimal meditative experience.
When beginning to use a mantra try to set a specific period of time (21 days, 40 days, 45 days) to work with it. Using a mala or a rosary can be an effective way to count the mantras, or say the mantra for 1 minute to determine how many times you can say the mantra in that amount of time and then multiply to determine the number of minutes you need to reach 108 repetitions. The number 108 refers to the number of nadis or energetic pathways in the body according the the Vedic system.
Mantras for Peace:
Om Shanti Om – Shanti is the Sanskrit word for Peace. Om is the sound of creation.
So Hum – This simple mantra can be used as you observe your breath, so on the inhale and hum on the exhale. It also means “I am that”.
Mantras for Enlightenment:
Om Namah Shivaya – Om and salutations to the Supreme Consciousness/Shiva
Om Bhur Bhuvaha Swaha tat savitur varenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi dhiyo yo nah prachodayat – The Gayatri mantra is considered one of the great mantras. The meaning of this mantra is complex but a rough meaning is: Om Existence, Absolute, Creator of the three dimensions, we contemplate upon your divine light. May you illuminate our intellect and bestow upon us true knowledge.
Mantra for removing obstacles:
Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha – This is a mantra to Ganesha the elephant headed god who was created by Parvati (Shakti or the feminine power or energy in the universe) and was both beheaded and restored to life by Shiva. Ganesha is associated with one’s will. When your inner will is aligned with your highest self and not with the ego then we can receive the blessings of the Supreme Consciousness or Shiva. This is often a good mantra to begin with as our own inner obstacles are often the cause of what we see in the external world that we try to blame for our problems.
Mantra for abundance:
Om Shreem Shri Maha Lakshmiyei Namaha – Lakshmi is the energy of abundance on all levels. As you say the mantra, seek to be that abundance and not just experience it externally.
Mantra to release anger:
Shante prashante sarva krodha upasha mani Swaha – “Invoking supreme peace I surrender (or offer) the quality of anger to its source in the higher and formless universal mind. Salutations.” (from Thomas Ashley-Farrand’s book on Healing Mantras)
This is a lovely mantra that can be used for other emotions as well. For example, substitute the word ‘bhaya’ for ‘krodha’ to use the mantra to release fear.
Mantras for fear:
Shante prashante sarva bhaya upasha mani Swaha
Abhayam sarva bhutey byo – I am nothing to fear, I fear nothing. This mantra is very effective when wanting to approach a being who is afraid or when wanting to ensure that you walk through a situation without being harmed. I have often used this mantra with animals but it can also be very effective for people who feel that aggression is directed towards them and they are not sure why. Surrounding yourself with the energy of this mantra will set yourself and other people at ease.
Mantra for protection:
Om Dum Durgayei Swaha – Durga is the energy of the Divine Mother. This mantra can be used for a feeling of protection, nurturing and for any problems in life.
Tibetan Buddhist mantra for removing negativity:
Om Hung Vajra Pey – Hung is the Tibetan version of the bija mantra Hum as in So Hum. Vajra is the thunderbolt which illumines the mind. When our mind is illuminated there can be no fear, no darkness.
There are many, many mantras but these few are enough to get you started. Once you begin to work with a mantra intensively you will start to notice the effects in your life. If you are not noticing a change in yourself and how you interact in the world after 45 days then return to the Ganesha mantra to remove obstacles or seek advice from someone who is established in a mantra practice. Generally, I have noticed mantras working after about 3 days of 2 malas a day and have found that with intensives the mantra feels complete after 21-45 days. When working with health issues it may be helpful to speak with a Vedic astrologer who can give you a planetary mantra to work with.
If you need further assistance with these or other mantras feel free to contact me. For more information or self-study on mantras and their uses I recommend two authors: Thomas Ashley-Farrand and David Frawley.