‘That which stretches the mind’ – this is the root meaning of the word ‘mantra’. Mind in Sanskrit is ‘mann’. Both, mann and mantra, originate from the same root. Mind is the reason of all human suffering and sorrows. That is why we need to give the mind a right direction. Mind can be a powerful tool if we know how to harness its power. A weak mind is the source of depression, anger, helplessness and diseases. On the contrary, a trained mind is radiant like the sun - confident, joyful, satiated and concentrated. Everything is possible for a one-pointed mind. But for that, we must put in the right effort.
Imagine a beautiful statue covered with thick layers of ice. It will take a great effort to scrape the ice layer by layer, in order to see the beauty of the statue. Our mind is like the concealed statue - covered by layers of bad habits and delusions. Through its vibrations, mantra imparts a one-pointed concentration to the mind. Sound is a force that penetrates even our bodily organs. Mantra chanting is like a gate to deeper layers of our being. The more we chant, the deeper we go. But for this experience you need to know the key to the gate. The key is proper chanting with the right preparation.
First step is choosing the right mantra. Choose one that is familiar to your religion or belief, or one the one you feel good about. Short or long does not matter. Once selected, stick to it - do not switch the mantra until you complete the resolve of doing it for a set number of days.
Mantras were envisaged by our rishis. The word rishi comes from the root ‘rit’ which means ‘gyana’ or higher knowledge. Rishis manifested these formless mantras into a form, using their divine vision. That is why they carry a special vibration, ‘a secret ingredient. If you do not know which one to choose, opt for OM - it is the root of all mantras.
Choose the spot for practice. Choose a place you can use regularly for chanting. Clean it properly, burn some incense to purify it, place some flowers, a candle and a picture of your guru or any deity. These will serve as an inspiration to your mind.
At the beginning it might be helpful to chant by joining in with some recording of a mantra chanting. It will help you to get inspired, as listening to your own voice is not always easy. Nice music will be calming and it will keep the mind more focused. In the beginning, chanting with a recording is easier than chanting on your own. The mantra will be effective only if the mind is not in turmoil nor lost in millions of thoughts.
Each time you chant, observe the vibrations in your chest and in your forehead. Be in the present moment, enjoy the sound and try to embrace the sound. Keep your eyes closed very gently and point them towards the mid-point of your eyebrows. Do it with a light feeling and not with tension, imagine the lightness of a feather. Each time you realize your thoughts have drifted away, bring the attention back. Longer stretches of chanting will be much more effective as our mind needs time to calm down and be able to receive the peace and quietness. Enjoy, relax and dive deep within.