3 Simple Mantras for Transformation
Chances are, if you practice yoga regularly, you’ve been exposed to at least a handful of Sanskrit mantras, sometimes chanted but more often sung in melodies as the backdrop for your asana practice at your local yoga studio. Though many Western practitioners don’t know the meaning behind these mantras, the ancient syllables nonetheless have a way of instantly immersing listeners in the culture of India, the birthplace of our beloved yoga. Sanskrit scholars argue that the language derives its power from the vibrations of its words, so merely surrounding yourself with the mantras can have a profound effect on your state of mind. Whether it’s the inspiration to flow through your postures, the soundtrack as you drive to work, or the words you repeat as you cycle through your mala beads, incorporating mantras into your practice in a daily way can deepen your understanding of the spiritual realm and bring greater clarity to your worldly affairs. The following three mantras are favorites of mine. They are relatively easy to learn, but are also deeply transformative.
Om Namah Shivaya
This mantra means literally salutations and adoration to Shiva. As the third member of the Trimurti, or Hindu trinity, Shiva personifies destruction. Appropriately, his depictions are often formidable. You are likely to see images of Shiva surrounded by a ring of fire or in the midst of demon slaying. Though at first it might be difficult to see the value in exalting a force of destruction, the Hindu pantheon considers Shiva as the necessary counterbalance to Bhrama and Vishnu, who represent creation and preservation respectively. In this world view, everything moves in cycles and death is just a necessary part of the whole of life. Without death, we cannot experience transformation and new beginnings. Though Shiva is labeled “the destroyer,” he also represents the inner Self which remains unbroken even when everything else comes to an end. Shiva is the supreme consciousness that dwells within each of us, so when we say this mantra, we are truly honoring our own highest Self. It’s a reminder that, as yogis, we are constantly shedding skins, dropping our harmful habits and banishing our toxic energies in the hopes of making ourselves more pure and perfected beings. Considered by many to be a profoundly powerful mantra, “Om Namah Shivaya” is an opportunity for us to slay our own demons, to burn away our illusions, and to dance, like Shiva, fearlessly into whatever life may bring us next.
Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha
Ganesha is probably the most well-loved deity among members of the yoga community, recognizable because of his elephant head and his round belly. This is his mantra. Ganesha is associated with the root chakra and so is known for bringing auspiciousness to new endeavors and beginnings of all types. He is also called the remover of obstacles. In “Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha,” the syllable Gum is a “bija” mantra, a one syllable sound that contains powerful vibrational energy. This specific bija mantra embodies the energy of Ganesha, so by using it, we invoke the ability to remove obstacles in our own lives. This is not as far-fetched or supernatural as it may sound. Meditating on Ganesha and what he symbolizes helps us to understand that we already have this power within us, though removing life’s obstacles is often not as simple or straightforward as we would like. Sometimes what we need is a creative solution, a way to work around the obstacle instead of just obliterating it, or even a shift of perspective that turns the obstacle itself into the catalyst for progress. Whatever the answer is, putting a little faith in Ganesha just might make us more likely to find it and to break past the energy blockages that hinder us. Something about the rhythm of this mantra makes it alluring. It becomes easily ingrained in the mind and remains there as a comfort whenever a roadblock, great or small, is encountered.
Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
If “Om Namah Shivaya” is concerned with the inner Self and “Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha” deals with our immediate surroundings, then this mantra takes us one step further outwards and helps us convene with the entire world. “Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu” means may all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may my life somehow contribute to that happiness and freedom. This prayer is often combined with repetitions of the Sanskrit word “Shanti,” which means peace. It is used in recognition of our interconnectedness with each other and with all that is. We cannot find the liberation we seek when our words and actions are creating suffering for others. Further, it’s only by devoting ourselves to the happiness of others that we in turn manifest that happiness within ourselves. This message of compassion is universal, spanning across the gaps of culture and religion. Though there are mantras to heal every physical, mental, and emotional wound we may experience in life, this mantra provides a rare opportunity to move beyond our personal concerns and offer our healing energy to the world. Chanting the words of these and other mantras is like lighting a match; though the effort is small, the light of positive energy we create by it can easily spread and become a beacon.
Magical Mantras to Boost Your Energy
Energy is defined as “the capacity for vigorous activity.” Energy is also defined as the exertion of power. When thinking about energy on a personal level, think about having stamina and longevity to power your days. Energy is a key part of making the most of our days.
Sometimes we have all the energy we need to work, take care of our families, and even a little energy left for play. On the other hand, we all have days in which our energy supplies are so depleted we can hardly imagine doing any vigorous activity. Fatigue is a great way to put a damper on your day.
Beyond just feeling down, being low on energy might mean that your body isn’t getting all the care it needs. Your body demands lots of energy to operate at full capacity in order to build muscle, process toxins, repair body tissue, digest food, and perform many other daily functions. Many of these functions happen automatically without us having to think about it.
The Basics of Mantras
One way to boost your energy is to recite a mantra especially suited for enhancing your daily energy level. Mantras are an important part of many Eastern religions, including Hinduism and Buddhism, but are becoming more and more a part of Western culture as well. Merriam-Webster defines a mantra as “a word or phrase that is repeated often or that expresses someone’s basic beliefs.” They are generally a short phrase or a few words, so you can recall them easily and use them often. The more you repeat something, the more you give it meaning.
I use mantras for energy most often during exercise or when the late afternoon lull kicks in. A powerful mantra is a better work-out companion than a sugary sports drink, because it provides you with that extra boost of energy without setting you up for a sugar crash later. With an energy-boosting mantra there is all upside and no downside.
Another situation that lends itself well to mantra use is when that late afternoon lull hits. I used to work for a nonprofit in Washington. Our offices were in a large room filled with cubicles, with four desks to a group. Each of our desks faced a different corner, but at almost exactly 3 pm every day, we would all turn to the middle of the cubes and start talking to each other. Albeit better than downing a cup of coffee, but still not great. It was the afternoon lull, that time of day when your body is sick of being sedentary and is crying out for some energy. What we should have done is gone outside for a walk around the block, but a more likely alternative would have been to take two minutes and let a mantra give us a quick jolt to get us to the end of the work day.
Six Energy Boosting Mantras
Mantras can be an incredibly powerful tool. Begin by picking one of the mantras provided below and incorporate it into some aspect of your day or into your mediation or yoga practice. You will find that some mantras are more fitting to your personality, or similarly, a different situation might require a different mantra.
- In taking this time to be calm, I am rebooting. This time will help me rebuild my energy resources to get me through the rest of the day.
- Today I will be the best version of myself. I will call on my reserves of energy to give me strength today.
- I have more energy inside myself. I am taking time to be still, so that when I reopen my eyes, I will have found more energy.
- After this time, I will be rejuvenated. I will feel a new found strength and livelihood.
- Strength can be found within me. There is more energy inside of me.
- If I ask, I shall receive. If I ask my body for more energy, it will provide.
Creating Self-Tailored Energy Boosting Mantras
Powerful mantras can come from anywhere. They can be treasured lines from friends or family. For instance, my mom has a line that she says to each of her three daughters when she needs to get our attention. Over the years, she crafted them to suit each of our personalities perfectly. I’ll be honest that I can’t remember my sister’s special message, but mine comes through loud and clear, “You are the only Sarah I have.” My mom used this a lot when I was a teenager. Anytime she was concerned, instead of trying to tell me what to do, she would use this mantra to remind me to be cautious and to tell me I was important. Such a simple phrase was highly effective, because it was personalized for me.
While it’s not an energy-boosting manta, it still a good example of mantra coming from unusual places. Your perfect energy-boosting mantra could come from something inspirational a friend once told you or from a quote from a book or movie. All you need to do is ask yourself, after reciting this mantra, do I feel recharged?
I recently moved to a brand new continent – well brand new to me anyways – and have been struggling with culture shock and finding my place in what feels like a new world. While adjusting to a whole new life can be exhilarating at times, it can also be overwhelming. When I start to feel overwhelmed, I employ my new favorite mantra: This too shall pass. It reminds me that for every low, fatigued day, there are wonderful days filled with comfort and energy. Just this knowledge helps me reboot in that moment and look forward to the better days around the corner.
Mantras and Meditation
As I mentioned in my article on self-loving mantras, “a mantra is a great tool to deter one’s minds natural tendency to wander off.” In addition to mediation, mantras are associated with praying and certain types of exercise. Let’s walk through how you can incorporate a mantra into your mediation practice.
First, look for a quiet, peaceful place where you are unlikely to be disturbed for 10-15 minutes. I strongly recommend creating a space that you can use on a regular basis, but sometimes you need to use your mantra at work or on the metro and you will just have to make do. If you do create a space for yourself, a few options are a cozy chair in your bedroom or a blanket spread out in your garden. Be very particular about what you let into your space. Only allow objects that bring you joy and calm. For instance, I like to use candles and cozy blankets, but I have friends that prefer flowers, inspirational quotes, or soothing music.
Once you have your space settled, gently close your eyes, and begin to focus on your breathing. After ten deep breaths, start to recite your chosen mantra – either out loud or silently in your head. Let yourself go back and forth between focusing on your breath and your mantra for about ten to fifteen minutes. When you are ready, open your eyes and check in with yourself. Are you feeling a new surge of energy? If so, remember that mantra for the next time you are feeling low on energy.
Other Energy Boosting Techniques
In addition to employing these or your own energy boosting mantras, there are numerous other ways to increase your daily energy supply, the most important of which is to get a good night sleep. Other daily habits can boost your energy, such as:
- Stay hydrated or take it a step further and try a Hydrotherapy Detox
- Get your vitamin D (supplements are helpful, but barely scratch the surface compared to the benefit you can get from 15 minutes of sun each day)
- Eat healthy foods with lots of vitamins and high-levels of protein (like super greens and nuts)
- Energy Boosting Pilates
- Energy Lift Yoga, which can be combined with your energy boosting mantra for an added boost
- Go for a brisk walk. A fast-paced walk, with your arms moving, does wonders for jumpstarting many of the systems in your body from immune to respiratory system. Twenty minutes of brisk walking a day can dramatically increase your energy.
- Make plans to spend time with energetic, upbeat friends. Even looking forward to time with friends can give you a little energy boost.