A Mantra is a grouping of sound vibrations which have an effect on the mental and psychic consciousness. Although traditionally given by a Guru, in the absence of a Guru, the practitioner may choose his mantra. An important criterion for mantra selection is that it must appeal to the mind fully when spoken verbally.
Mantra chanting creates powerful vibrations which are said to be directed to the right "chakras" to attract divine forces. This process is said to mysteriously heal the spiritual, physical & psychological body. It is important that when the mantra is chanted, the words and their rhythm must be enjoyed and one must surrender oneself to this experience.
Mantras do not have any specific meaning. Their power lies not in the meaning of the word but through the vibratory effects of the sound that they produced when spoken verbally or mentally.
In fact, a Mantra should not be confused with religion. Just because a mantra refers to a Hindu God, it does not mean that it cannot be said by a Christian. Also, a Mantra should not be translated as this has the effect of altering the sound vibrations wherein lies the strength of the Mantra.
Repetition of a Mantra forms the basis of Mantra Meditation. Mantras for spiritual evolution should be practiced for a fixed amount of time each day. Repeating a mantra too much may not be right for sensitive or psychic people as it may affect them adversely. Generally, if you repeat a mantra for about 10 minutes every day, then, within a few days you will know whether the vibrations feel right for you.
To read more, click on the Power of Mantras.
Transcendental Meditation (TM) introduced by Maharshi Mahesh Yogi is also a form of Mantra Meditation where the participants are provided their personal Mantra.
Mantra Meditation is the easiest and safest form of meditation and can be practiced by anyone at anytime and under any conditions. The most common way of practicing Mantra Meditation is Japa. Japa (literally means 'rotate') is performed by repeating a mantra in sync with the rotation of a Japa Mala. A Japa Mala is a rosary of 108 beads where each bead is turned after the mental or audible recitation of the mantra.
Using a Japa Mala for Mantra Meditation is very effective as it provides an anchor to bring the mind back as it experiences wavering thoughts. The Mantra combined with the Japa Mala provide tangible anchors to which the thoughts are directed back as they spin out of control. That is why, Japa Meditation is one of the most recommended forms of meditation for the beginner.
To read about how to use the Japa Mala for Meditation, Click here.
To read about other forms of Mantra Meditation, Click here