Mantras are tools of power that has been around for a few millennia. They are formidable, ancient, and they work. They are symbols of their users’ intent to change their own minds through active and purposeful thought. There are several ways people use mantras because guess what? A mantra can be anything you want it to be.
Although mantras have their origins rooted in Hindu and Buddhist meditation and were activated with a sacred utterance of Vedic Sanskrit. Mantras can be whatever the fuck you want. The history of mantras is actually widely debated, but generally, they can fall into two categories:
- The words have no meaning
- Simply vowels and consonants strung together in a way that sounds beautiful and were believed to invoke spiritual awareness
- Example: “Om”. It has no meaning, but it is considered to be the sound of the universe.
- The words have meaning
- Typically used in combination with mantra sounds in the first category
- Example: “Śānti”. Pronounced “Shanti”, simply means peace
One of the most common mantras in Hindu teachings is “Om Shanti Shanti Shanti” as an invocation of peace.
I know what you’re thinking. “Why should I use mantras? I don’t want to look like a crazy Hare Krishna devotee.” Fear not my naïve, potentially problematic friend. Like I mentioned above, mantras can literally be anything. For me, they are most effective when I have a level of connectivity with what I am saying. And they have been an incredibly powerful tool when I feel a panic attack coming on, or am experiencing severe anxiety.
Regardless of the historical context of mantras, it is certain that the melodic nature of hearing a mantra is beautiful.
Do you have a particular sound that makes you scrunch your neck and cross your eyes in discomfort? Nails on a chalkboard perhaps? If there are sounds that can create such a physical discomfort, surely there are sounds that can do the opposite. The melodies of mantras are designed with mathematical precision to invoke a reaction to the listener. Some may say with a similar cadence to music or poetry. Wow, great Segway, Wolfe. Thanks.
POETRY! Everything is vibrational. Ever wonder why Shakespeare sounds so good, even though it may not make a lick of sense without side-by-side Sparknotes? A lot of Shakespeare’s sonnets and soliloquies are written in iambic pentameter. Dust off those old English textbooks, because I’m about to take you to school.
An iambic foot is created by writing one unstressed syllable and following it with a stressed syllable. The rhythm can be written as:
The most common example of this “da-dum” iambic pattern is your own heartbeat. The vibrations of the sounds are beautiful, and genius, because they have a familiarity that you feel in your chest.
Now I don’t seriously expect anyone to recite Shakespeare as a mantra when they feel anxious. Like I said, mantras create more of an impact when they have significance to you. But, how do you find a mantra that makes your spirit boogie like your ass does to that new Daft Punk song? DID SOMEONE SAY SONG? Flawless transition yet again, Wolfe.
Music is a fantastic way to find mantras that really speak to you. But please, for the love of everything that is righteous, don’t choose a Justin Bieber song or anything Bieber adjacent. I just don’t want your mantra to be “baby, baby, baby, oh”…although it does bear striking semblance to “om shanti shanti shanti”…maybe I was wrong about Bieber, maybe he is the guru we need…but probably not.
Michael Jackson asked us to “heal the world, to make it a better place.” Are these pronouncements of personal philosophy–which, in the course of our lives, we hear repeated hundreds, perhaps thousands of times–much different than mantras?
Mantras are to be repeated daily, and purposefully, to assume the benefits of their nature. This may sound like a difficult task. But, before you go and write off adopting mantras into your everyday routine, think about this:
- We allow popular culture into our lives and minds without conscious intention and allow their often-conflicting messages to shape and define us. How many pop song choruses do you know? Surely, adding another line that can create a genuinely positive impact is not enough to overflow your mind.
Pop music is designed for repeat play, and dance music is structured by rhythmic repetition. The same careful arithmetic approach can be seen in traditional mantras. So why not consider mantras as a kind of cosmic pop music?
Here are the mantras I use most often that have been lifted from music, poetry, and other influences.
- “Don’t fight the darkness. Bring the light and Darkness will disappear.” – YACHT
- “There isn’t much that I feel I need. A solid soul and the blood I bleed.” – Animal Collective
- “I took a little journey to the unknown, and I come back changed. I can feel it in my bones.” – Lord Huron
- “Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I’ve got diamonds At the meeting of my thighs?” – Maya Angelou
- “And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheel’d universe.” – Walt Whitman
- “The dark thought, the shame, the malice. Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.” – Jellaludin Rumi
- “This too shall pass.” – Gandalf on the first take.
- “You’re a bit different, but people will love you for it.” – Mimi
- “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” – Dr. Seuss
Take the time to listen to the universe. Be open and receptive. Use mantras. Conquer the world.
Much love & many adventures,