What Is The Relationship Between Ayurveda & Mantra Meditation?
Going back to the roots of Ayurveda, we learn that it covers the holistic knowledge of the body, mind and spirit, including emotions and way of thinking. Ayurveda literally means the “science of life” and this ancient science incorporates health, longevity, rejuvenation and self-realization therapies through herbal remedies, exercises, diet, yoga, massage, aromatherapy, meditation, tantras and mantras. Ayurveda believes, that everything in life, in the universe, in the nature around us and in ourselves is composed of the 5 elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether. Combinations of these elements form the three doshas, or the three basic types of human constitution. These are called Vata (Air and Ether), Pitta (Fire and Water) and Kapha (Earth and Water). According to Ayurveda, health is the balance between these doshas and illness is an excess or deficiency of a particular dosha. But how did we get out of balance? To answer this question, we again have to go back to the beginning of Ayurveda. Then we will discover that the ancient sources all point in the same direction: that all Ayurvedic knowledge was handed down from the Gods themselves, then passed on by the Rishis (the seers) and sages and finally was written down and developed into Ayurveda as we know it today. So in ancient times, the Rishis and sages were very close to God and could share in the divine knowledge. In fact, everyone lived in close contact with nature and attained mental peace from this as a result. It was a natural tendency to feel connected to the universe, to the Gods, to be spiritual and to live spiritual lives and Ayurveda considers the fact that we have forgotten our spiritual identity as the root of all disease. Forgetting our true nature, that we are children of God, or connected to God or to the cosmos – is what is making us ill.
Historical Background of Mantras
Mantras originate in the Vedas. As we have described, the ancient Ayurvedic knowledge was perceived by the Rishis (seers) and sages and would finally be written down in the Vedas. Their ancient divine knowledge, the Rishis passed on orally, through chanting and hymns. By chanting these Mantras, the Rishis attained self-realization.
What is a Mantra
A Mantra is a rhythmic recitation of mystical or religious words, syllables, poems or vibrations in the Sanskrit language, which – when repeated in meditation – helps to transcend into a higher state of consciousness. These sacred sounds are permanent entities and cannot be destroyed. It is believed that their power has no other source than God and that their energies have always existed in the universe and are everlasting. This is the power that can heal us mentally and physically and will bring us transformation. The sounds of Mantras are very powerful and it is important to pronounce them properly, because they have an impact on us – whether we are aware of it or not. The different sounds all have different effects on our bodies and minds.
How does it Work?
Mantras are energy-based sounds and it is the pronunciation of this sound that is highly powerful and uplifting. These sounds are eternal and each Mantra has its own specific effect. It is not necessary, but for a better focus and more awareness of its power, it is advisable to learn the meaning and pronunciation of your Mantra. You can also search for a specific Mantra, according to the results you wish to achieve. The word Mantra is derived from the Sanskrit root Man which means “to think” and suffix – tra, meaning “tool”. A literal translation of Mantra would therefore be “instrument of thought”. Chanting the sacred Sanskrit sounds, gives us the power to attain our goals and lift our daily consciousness to a higher level. Our subconscious mind can find its solution through meditation and recitation of Mantras. How can we make a Mantra an “instrument for our thought”? First of all, a Mantra can help us to concentrate in meditation: the mind instantly gets focused and it will settle down, creating peacefulness. When we are worried, scared or stressed, it can provide a refuge. Furthermore, Mantras give us the power to cure diseases, attract prosperity and abundance, develop fearlessness, worship a God, attaining a state of joy and ultimately, freedom!
How to do it?
As we have just described, the chanting of Mantras – even if we don’t understand them – is not meaningless. The mere sound of the utterance has already incredible effect. But to benefit more from their powers, it is advised to be aware of their meaning. To change and heighten our consciousness, we should repeat a Mantra constantly in meditation; first out loud and then through silent and mental chanting. It is believed that the powerful benefits of Mantra chanting, can not be achieved with the mind, or through reasoning. It can be experienced only through devotion, faith and constant repetition of the Mantra. These are the most important requirements for success. A Mantra has to be repeated time and time again and the contents have to be believed. That is why the quietness of mind is so important. We may have to use our willpower to achieve an inner state of peace and to let go of our judgements, doubts or resistance. In this context, it will be helpful to connect the Mantra to an internal or external purpose in life. Then we can use our willpower to establish a stable mind, build faith, repeat our Mantra and achieve our goal. also visualize the Mantras written words, visualize a symbol or another image associated with our Mantra or our purpose.
VARIOUS MANTRAS: To find our own Mantra we can experiment, trying various Mantras, acquiring them from the following sources:
- Names of Gods, religious figures, spiritual teachers or saints.
- A brief statement. This can be a quote from a religious text or a positive affirmation, such as “I am love”, “I am present now” etc.
- A traditional spiritual Mantra, for instance:
- Om Mani Padme Hum, meaning “Salutations to the jewel of consciousness which has reached the heart’s lotus” is a Buddhist Mantra of Compassion.
- Ohm Namah Shivaya, Sanskrit for “I honour or bow to Shiva”. “Namah Shivaya” consists of five syllables, that are parallel to the five elements:
Na = Earth; Ma = Water; Shi = fire; Va = Air; Ya = Ether.
- So Ham, a Hindu Mantra, meaning “I am He, or I am the Self”. Breathe in saying “So”, breathe out saying “Ham”.
- Ohm Shanti, a Hindu Mantra, Mantra of peace.
- A Mantra from a personal teacher or Guru.
- A Sanskrit letter. The Sanskrit language was developed in such a way, that each letter was associated with a specific state. This means that each letter can be used as a Mantra.
- The spelling of a word. Each letter is chanted separately, for instance G-o-d or l-o-v-e.
- A Mantra that we receive from the silence within. During meditation, it is possible to hear a sound or a word or a thought, that could be very appropriate as a Mantra. When we repeat it later on, it will help us to go immediately back to the state of meditation when we first heard it. We can also do this with a feeling: when we are in a state of deep trust, we can repeat the word “trust” and later on we will more easily connect to this deep feeling by repeating it as Mantra.
- And finally virtues: there are so many beautiful virtues, such as compassion, humility, kindness, forgiveness etc. Using them as a word or in a sentence (e.g. “I am filled with compassion”) will help to invoke their power in our lives.
As we have said, Mantras are all Vedic in origin and all Mantras in this tradition generally start with, and often also end with, the word Ohm or Aum. Om means: the beginning and the end. It is the sound that is considered to originate in the time of the creation of the Cosmos. Everything manifest comes from this vibration. The bible says (John 1:1) “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God”. Om is this word. Ohm is of utmost importance in the Hindu tradition. The symbol of Ohm is sacred, since it represents Brahman: the source of all life. Before existence and beyond existence, there is only One reality: Brahman – and the first manifestation of Brahman in existence is Ohm. That is why Om is the source of all Mantras. To chant Ohm (Aum) properly there are a few advises:
- First, make it clear for yourself, why you want to recite Ohm (Aum). Is it just to relax, do you want to achieve peacefulness, a quiet mind to think about your life goals, feel unity, divinity – everything is possible, but when you set your own goals, this will help you focus your intention.
- Sit somewhere quietly, where you cannot be disturbed.
- Think and feel the essence of the word Ohm (Aum) as much as you can.
The word Aum has actually four syllables:
- 1. A: as in “awe”, but prolonged.
- 2. U: prolonged as in “home”.
- 3. M: pronounced mm, but prolonged.
- 4. The “silent syllable”.
- One chant of Aum should last for an entire exhalation. Inhale deeply and when you exhale, slowly chant Aum as you release your breath. When you are almost at the end of your exhale, close your mouth and hum the “m” of Aum and let it fade away with your breath. Make sure the three syllables run together: “Aaauuummm”.
- You can use visualizations if you wish. As you exhale Aum you can, for instance, visualize your dreams become manifest. Or you can visualize the Aum-sound coming from the point on the middle of your forehead, just above the eyebrows (third eye) and spreading throughout your body.
- When all the air has been expelled, inhale fully again and chant Aum again.
- Take your breaths with an extremely slow speed.
- Try to feel in your body, where the sound vibrates. This can be near the navel, your chest, your throat or your third eye. Each syllable can have its own location. Pay special attention to the silence after the sound has faded. There is no time limit for chanting “Om” or any other Mantra, and you can chant as often as you wish. But 15 minutes a day will already produce remarkable effects, such as a quiet mind, peaceful thoughts or a stable thinking process. Again, intention is key. The more you feel connected to your Mantra, the more positive will happen in your life. With the intent, we generate divine powers within, which will have an effect in the outside world; and since the outer world is governed by the inner world, we can humbly take part in this creative process.