What’s in a Mantra?
Most yogis know that chanting Om is chanting a mantra and that the word mantra comes from two Sanskrit words: man meaning mind; and tra meaning vehicle or instrument – a tool to transport the mind from a state of activity to one of stillness and silence. We get the words train, travel, and transportation from the Sanskrit root tra. But Om is not simply a word – it’s a seed sound known as a bija – heralding all of the unbounded universe in its very utterance. So let’s dive into the deep end of the mantra pool!
Most mantras are comprised of the fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet and can consist of a single letter, a syllable or string of syllables, a word, or a whole sentence. Typically, most mantras are sounds, syllables, or vibrations that don’t necessarily have a meaning. Their value lies in their vibrational quality, not in any meaning that humans, society, culture, or civilization has placed on them over the last few thousand years. For this reason they go beyond the state of human existence on this planet, and they take you deeper because they are vibrations that have existed since the dawn of creation.
The Hymn of the Universe
Om – often referred to as the hymn of the universe – is considered the ultimate vibration because it contains every vibration that has ever existed and every vibration that will ever exist. It’s pure yoga – union. Just as white light contains all the colors of the spectrum, Om contains every sound in the vibrational spectrum – even those we can’t hear with our ears. The cover of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon represents this brilliantly as it shows the white light coming into a prism and all the colors of the spectrum coming out the other side. The same could be said for Om – it’s the white light of sound.
Historically, Om is first mentioned in the twelve verses of the ancient Vedic text the Mandukya Upanishads, which explains the three basic states of consciousness: waking, sleeping, and dreaming. In its original spelling and pronunciation, AUM (pronounced ahh-uhh-mmm) is a blending of those three states of consciousness into the one-ness of three distinct syllables: A, U, and M. These three vibrations also represent the three stages of life: birth, living, and death.
The vibration A (pronounced ahh, like the sound you make opening your mouth for the doctor) represents the waking state and the beginning of all things. The letter A is the first letter of most every alphabet, the first letter of the Rig Veda, the Koran, Homer’s Odyssey – even the New Testament! The vibration A heralds creation…the beginning. Vedic sages refer to it as the a-kara and it represents the realm of form and shape – the physical realm.
The vibration U (pronounced oo) is referred to as the u-kara and represents the dream state, the realm that is devoid of form or shape – the realms of air, water, fire, dreams – ever-changing aspects of the formless world around us.
The vibration M is known as the ma-kara, which represents the state of deep sleep – neither form or formless like the other two realms but beyond shape or shapelessness – the realm of consciousness in hibernation, waiting to unfold.
In Sanskrit grammar, when the letters A and U are combined in writing, they are translated as the letter O. That is why we so often see Om written instead of Aum. Over thousands of years, the writing of Aum has taken a back seat to Om, and that has led to Om being the sound that is most often chanted by both Western students and teachers of yoga, meditation, and Vedanta.
When the three individual vibrations are combined, a fourth vibration is created like a chord in music made up of individual notes. AUM (pronounced ahhh–uhhh–mmmm) represents the fourth state of consciousness – transcendent consciousness or turiya – what we call enlightenment or one-ness. In Vedanta, it’s the unity of the divine made up of its three components: creation; preservation; destruction (and rebirth). The chanting of this mantra heralds our universality, which is why we usually chant Om before and/or after meditation and yoga practice, and when we read sacred, ancient texts. By repeating a vibration or sound over and over, it will become part of your physiology; it will become your mind; it will become *you. * It will lose all meaning, all definition, and all relevance. There will be no separation between you and the vibration that is resonating right now.
Chanting Om (out loud or silently) is an ideal reminder of our universality.
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.