The mantras we use today were channeled thousands of years ago by Vedic scholars. Typically these mantras are Sanskrit verses, the recitation of sacred words is thought to bring the mind to a quiet space and an empty heart, where the mind can witness the presence of Divinity. The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali mention how mantras are a yogic tool that can affect our internal systems. Just like pranayama, chanting mantras benefits the body, organs, and mind.
More recently, scientific studies have found that chanting mantras repetitively lowers blood pressure. Neurological research has discovered that repeating mantras, each with their own hertz frequencies, activate restful alpha, theta and delta brain waves.
For nearly 7,000 years, Hindu mantras were repeated and counted using mala beads. In Sanskrit, ‘mala’, literally means ‘garland from God’, and is usually comprised of 108 round beads made of seed, wood or gemstones.
Throughout history and across cultures, people have used gemstones for their energetic properties, believing that they are capable of connecting the wearer to other worlds, Divine energies, or higher states of awareness. There are thousands of gemstones, each with its own metaphysical properties, and as such you can find the perfect mala to work with any mantra.
For example, if you are looking to foster calm and peace in your daily life, mantra meditation is a perfect way to rest the mind. The Om Shanti Om mantra is one of the most commonly used and is an invocation calling for universal peace. Choosing a gemstone mala made from calming gemstones will resonate with this mantra, and also help you remember this affirmation throughout the day, after your practice. Gemstones that offer an energy of peace, calming, and soothing include aquamarine, moonstone, and amazonite.
At other times, you may be in a period transition and feel that you need support to stay balanced. During times of change, it is helpful to work with the energy of Shiva, the Hindu God of creation and destruction. Shiva dances on one leg in the wheel of change, reminding us that change is eternal and the key is to remain balanced. One can recite the Om Namah Shivaya mantra to remain centered in change. During times of change grounding gemstone malas are an excellent choice. For example, lava is considered ideal for easing change and transition, clearing negative energy and making room for the new.
If you are feeling physically, emotionally, or spiritually depleted, you can use mantras to rebalance your subtle energy body. According to the Vedas, Bija mantras, one syllable seed-sounds, create a physical vibration in the body that balance the chakras. Daily repetition of these seed sounds while focusing on the energy centre is recommended as a cleansing and balancing ritual. You can focus on the seed sounds for each chakra (LAM – root, VAM– sacral, RAM – solar, YAM -heart, HAM – throat, AUM– third eye, AH – crown) or you can recite OM 108 times. OM is cleansing and healing, and the Buddhists believe that reciting OM alone 100,000 times in a lifetime will break the cycle of samsara. Gemstones that are believed to cleanse and align the energy body include labradorite and riverstone.
No matter which mantra you choose, adding a daily chanting practice with a mala can enrich your experience of meditation.
Author : Jacqueline Medalye
Designer, Salt Spring Malas & Yoga Jewelry, Jacqueline’s extensive knowledge of Hindu and Buddhist practice stems from her doctoral studies.