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You sure that's a Mantra?

Or is it an Affirmation?

I am enough
I am love
I am worthy
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
Om Gam Ganapati Namaha

Mantra is another example of Yogic practices being assimilated into mainstream popularity, and often striped of cutlure.

Bracelets, sticky notes placed on bathroom mirrors, or repeated mental phrases….

For many years, I used the word mantra without awareness of its roots.

And while the above things can be useful tools, let’s examine a little deeper.

First, mantra is a Sanskrit word with 2 roots:

Manas = mind

Travas = protection or tools

Taken all together, Mantras are vehicles for liberating the tensions (emotions) of the mind.

With this definition it may not yet be clear as to any differences in the sentences written above. An important factor to consider is that the first 3 sentences are written in English, and immediately understood, while the second 3 are written is Sanskrit.

Sanskrit is a much older language that relies on sound (vibration) to express more complex meaning. Sanskrit is a “realized” language - meaning that it was discovered by rishis (ancient seers) while sitting in deep thought and meditation (sitting for like yearssss).

Stay with me for slight, but relevant detour with Masura Emoto and Hidden Messages in Water in which he shares his lifetime of research with water and the ways it’s molecules behave.

(I first heard of his work staying up wayyyyy too late one night and watching the movie What the Bleep.note: I don’t support every idea presented in this film - use your own discernment and resources when reading/watching anything)

A brief summary of Emoto’s work as it relates to this topic:

Our bodies contain about 70% water which trickles down the cellular level of organization (pun intended).

*biologists agree that living beings organize themselves in the following order: chemical → cellular → tissue → organ → organ systems → organism

Water molecules responds to vibration (remember the t-rex in Jurassic Park?), and also memorize, store, and transfer info via vibration. Some research centers around ice crystals being formed - as they were being formed messages were spoken that either carried a positive or negative connotation. The ice crystals formed with positive reinforcement were symmetrical, while the ones formed with negative messaging were more irregular in formation.

In my best Olaf (the snowman from Frozen) voice “Water has memory.”

Almost back on track…one more short detour!

You may have heard of fascia, as it's also a buzz word currently, and with good reason. My favorite definition of fascia is that it’s a water based system that surrounds fiber muscles, spindles, organs, and the cavities, the brain and spinal cord. Fascia behaves as a web-like living support system that stretches continuously through our entire bodies with connections faster than the nervous system.

Putting it all together:

Sanskrit mantra = Sound vibration that is precise + syllable

Our bodies = mostly water down to our cells and connected via fascia

Vibrations (sounds) effect water…

Mantras = magic for our cells and systems

Sanskrit Mantra by itself is a whole and complete practice - kirtan, raga yoga, etc.

When practiced sincerely and with nonattachment mantras may:

  • Create awareness in the body

  • Helps transcend limitations of the physical body

  • Clear blocked energy

  • Create emotional/mental stability

  • Transcend the context of the mind

  • Liberate us from karma

Sanskrit mantras are prescribed by teachers for recalibration of the mind - beyond simple recitation as our minds are participating.

So why not English?

Back to the beginnings of Sanskrit - these have been realized by rishis, not created by us.

So let’s all agree to call these English sentences: Affirmations

Again, useful tools but not quite Mantras.

A few more fun facts about Mantras

Ways to categorize:

  • Mono syllable - bija, less than 12 syllables Ex. AUM, Shanti Shanti Shanti

  • Multi syllable - 12-20 syllables Ex. The Maha Mrityunjaya

And more than a few ways to practice or share:

  • Uthacan - say it once to set the scene

  • Joppa - constant unbroken, loop-like, uses mala beads and can be repeated for 3 - 11 - 21 - 31 - 108 cycles.

Protip: begin a new mantra on a new/full moon

Let's upgrade our language and understand and use Mantra for Sanskrit and Affirmations for English - recognizing the sacredness of this powerful tool.

A few closing thoughts:

Our breath is our first mantra and most sacred mantra. What is your breath saying?


Our mind is the strongest mantra...What are you repeating to yourself?


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