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What have mantras done for you lately?

Updated: Mar 15, 2022

My first experience with mantras was when I learned transcendental meditation, followed by chanting AUM in yoga class. Fast forward a few decades and I discovered the power of singing mantras together during sacred singing circles.

In my last blog, I talked about The Power of AUM. Today, I’m going to be looking at some longer mantras that I’ve grown to love. As a musician, I’m very influenced by melodies. As a writer, I pay attention to the words and their meaning. And as someone who believes in the healing power of sound, I notice how they make me feel.

Before looking at some of my go-to mantras, just a few words about intent. Sound healing pioneer Jonathan Goldman has said that frequency + intent = healing. “Intent, in this formula, is the important ingredient. Intent is the energy behind the sound. It is the consciousness that is encoded into the sound. Intent is very important.” While it’s certainly not a “must-have,” it may influence your experience and the results. To gauge this for yourself, try singing a mantra with and without intent.

I got my first introduction to Hebrew mantras at a conference held by White and Ori, founders of the Remembrance Academy. “El na refa na la,” is one of the most well-known Hebrew mantras, which translates as “God, please heal her.” The origin of this mantra stems from Moses’ plea to God to heal his sister Miriam. Here’s one version of El na refa na la, performed by White and Ori. Another version, sung by Yair Levi, went viral worldwide. Same words, different melody. Take a listen to Yair’s version and compare how it feels. I sing this mantra for myself or others, with the intent of sending healing energy. One of the mantras that I resonate strongly with is “Eheye asher eheye” which translates as “I am that I am,” “I am who I am” or “I am what I am.” While this mantra too has its roots in the Torah, it also feels very much like a declaration of self, of standing in my power. “I am here.” Here's White and Ori’s version of “Eheye asher eheye.” You can listen to more of their Hebrew mantras here.

Deva Pramal is known for bringing Sanskrit mantras to the west. I can still remember the first time I heard her singing Om Namo Bhagavati. Absolutely beautiful. I love Tina Malia’s version of the Gayatri mantra and find myself floating away on this version of Green Tara. There’s also this gentle version of Green Tara by Leonie Bos.

I must confess that with these mantras, it’s far more about the melodies than it is about the meaning. Sometimes, I just lie down and let the sounds wash over me. I find it really soothing and relaxing.

While singing mantras by yourself can have positive effects, the power of singing mantras in a group isn’t something that can be explained unless you’ve experienced it. It’s exponentially more powerful.

You might be wondering how long you should sing a mantra for it to have an effect. Some say you should chant AUM a minimum of three times. Others say you should sing mantras in multiples of nine. Sanskrit mantras are commonly sung 108 times. In my experience, there’s a vast difference between singing mantras for five minutes versus fifteen minutes or even half an hour.

When you’re singing mantras in a singing circle, it’s all about building momentum and reaching a climax before ending the mantra. The silence that follows thereafter is just as important.

Every time I sing mantras for a while, I’m reminded why I enjoy it so much. Even if I start out feeling tired or stressed, after half an hour I am way more relaxed and after an hour, energized. Do you have a mantra you love to sing? Let me know in the comments.

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