With the popularity of yoga and meditation, it’s common to hear the word “mantra” in conversations with friends or read about them online. Today, “mantra” has become synonymous with intention, but mantras are more than that. They are an instrument we can use to infuse our meditation and mindfulness practices with more power.
Whether you prefer traditional mantras or modern affirmations, adding one to your practice can help you relax, reduce stress and come back to the present moment. Below are some of my favorite traditional mantras and a list of modern affirmations to use in your practice.
The word “mantra” is the combination of two parts, “man,” which means mind, and “tra,” which means vehicle or transport. Think of a mantra as a vehicle for the mind to energize your intention. It is believed that mantras can actually alter your subconscious when you repeat them silently in your mind. They’re associated with prana, or life force energy, and are a deeply personal practice. If they appeal to you, the following mantras are simple to learn and bring great benefits to your life.
Om is the sound of the universe, “the first, original vibration, representing the birth, death, and re-birth process,” according to La Jolla, California yoga instructor Mandy Burstein. She teaches that Om helps bring us down to the frequency of the universe — Om vibrates at 432 Hertz, while modern music tends to vibrate at 440 Hertz. Slowing down just a bit through the use of Om can have a centering effect on your day.
When spoken aloud, this mantra fills the body with vibrations, from the pelvic floor to the top of the head. If you’ve ever engaged in the opening “Oms” at the beginning of a yoga class, you know how powerful it can be. When you speak this mantra aloud, break it into syllables A-U-M to reap the most benefits and feel the vibrations deep in your body.
Practice Sat Nam aloud by extending Sat eight times longer than Nam: Saaaaaaaaaat Nam. This Kundalini yoga mantra is a great way to practice trusting yourself. Translated into English, Sat Nam means, “Truth is my name.” What a beautiful way to boost your intuition! You can even try alternating the Sanskrit with the English translation once you become more comfortable with it.
Ong Namo Guru Dav Namo
Ong Nama Guru Dav Namo means, “I bow to the creative energy of the infinite. I bow to the divine channel of wisdom.” To practice this mantra, use it as if it were a two-versed poem: “Oong namo, Gurudav namo.” It’s a beautiful way to open your creative channels and prepares you to explore new opportunities.
Om Nama Shivaya
This mantra is 2,500 years old and hails from Shaivism, one of the oldest forms of Hinduism. At the beginning of the mantra is the word “Om,” which is, of course, the sound of the universe. “Namah” directly translates to bow. “Shivaya,” is Shiva, but should not be interpreted literally as meaning the god Shiva. Instead, it means “inner self,” in this context. So, the mantra translates to “I bow to the inner self.” It’s a beautiful way to come back to yourself, honor your intuition, your creativity, your accomplishments and your personal power.
If you prefer a completely secular approach to mantras, try adding some modern affirmations to your practice. Start with an affirmation that you can easily believe — it’s the best way to ensure that a mantra works for you. As you practice using affirmations in meditation, you can stretch yourself and add in affirmations that may feel a little aspirational. With practice, you may find affirmations help you release more stress than meditation alone.
Repeat your affirmation silently during meditation, and boost your practice by leaving little reminders of that affirmation throughout your day. Set it as your status on social media or make a pretty graphic up for your computer desktop. Leave sticky notes with your affirmation on your bathroom mirror, the visor of your car or anywhere else you’re sure to see it. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- I am free of stress and worry.
- My body functions properly and supports me.
- I am at peace with myself.
- I am relaxed and calm.
- Joy flows through my body.
- My mind is at peace.
- I release my worries.
- I am a strong, powerful person.
- My heart is full.
- I am free from anxiety.
- I control my own
- I am the author of my life.
- My emotions are valid and good.
- I am creative.
- I am divine.
- I am safe.
- I am supported and loved.
- My mind is quiet and strong.
What is your favorite mantra or affirmation?
— Megan Winkler