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Ritual: Mantra


Here's a little secret:  I love to sing mantras to myself.  They get stuck in my head, on repeat, like a catchy pop song.  Sometimes, I'm purposefully chanting my mantas, mala in hand, seated in front of my altar.  Sometimes a mantra just shows up while I'm driving, working, cooking, or drifting off to sleep.  Mantras are a ritual that you can bring with you anywhere and implement at any time.

Here are some of my favorite mantras:

  • "I am healthy" -- Confession:  When I feel like I'm getting ill or I'm surrounded by sick people, I sing "I am healthy" to myself in the tune of Frere Jacques.  It goes a little something like: "I am healthy, I am healthy, yes I am, yes I am, I'm so very healthy, oh so very healthy, yes I am, yes I am."  Which, typing out like that, I'm sure sounds ridiculous..but it's a signal to my body that it's okay to be healthy, and a signal to my brain that just because I'm surrounded by sneezing and coughing kiddos doesn't mean that I will get sick.  And most times -- I don't.
  • "om mani padme hum" -- When I go to sangha (a weekly meeting for Buddhist meditation), sometimes we sing this mantra in song, our voices uniting while our minds are still in the quiet of meditation.  This mantra is the Dalai Lama's favorite, and it cannot really be translated into a short sentence.  To me, this mantra signifies that the jewel of the lotus, the best part, is within me.  It is a mantra of transformation, of inner self-worth, of peace. 
  • "om gum ganapatayei namaha / om shri ganeshaya namah" -- So, the Hindu Ganesh is one you may have seen before:  he has the head of an elephant, a happy and full belly, and he likes to dance.  Ganesh is the god of wisdom, knowledge, and abundance.  He is known for helping people to break through obstacles. He has a few mantras, but the ones above are two of my favorites that I usually recite together.  If I'm using my mala beads, at each bead I'll say both mantras in a sort of sing-song voice.  This mantra is said to bring good luck, abundance, and ways out of troublesome situations.
  • "Inhale.  Exhale."  -- Sometimes, just following my breath is the most centering and soothing thing that I can do.  I like to think of my lungs being completely full of air at the top of my inhale and completely empty at the bottom of my exhale.  I dwell in the pause between the breath.  When I say the word "inhale" as I breathe in and "exhale" as I breathe out, my other thoughts tend to quiet down (although it's hard to get them to leave completely!) and I immediately feel embraced by calm.

So tell me:  do you have a favorite mantra?

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