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What are Mantras and How to Chant them

Mantras are sacred sounds, words, or phrases that are repeated or chanted during meditation or prayer. They have their roots in ancient religious and spiritual traditions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. The word "mantra" is derived from the Sanskrit language, where "man" means mind and "tra" means tool or instrument. Therefore, a mantra is often considered a tool for fulfilling the purposes one has in mind.

Chanting mantras is a practice that is believed to have various spiritual, psychological, and physical benefits. Different traditions use different mantras, which may have specific meanings and purposes. Some mantras are associated with specific deities, while others may focus on qualities like peace, love, or compassion.

Types of Mantras: Mantras are divided into various categories, like Vedic, Tantric, Shabar, and Devotional Mantra. These categories are further divided according to the purpose for which the mantra is chanted, like Shanti or Peace Giving Mantras, Manokamana Purti or Wish Fulfilling Mantras, Atma Raksha or Self-Protection Mantras, Rog Nashak or Healing Mantras, and Shatru Nashak or Enemy Destruction Mantras.
 
Recommendations for Chanting Mantras

Here are some general recommendations on how to chant Mantras:

Selecting a Mantra according to your wants: The chanter should choose a mantra that resonates with him or aligns with his material or spiritual goals. Common mantras include "Om," "Om Namah Shivaya," "Om Mani Padme Hum," and many others.

Setting an Intention or Purpose for which you are chanting the Mantra: Before one begins chanting a mantra, he should set a positive intention or purpose for the practice. This could be spiritual growth, inner peace, healing, or any other intention that aligns with his goals.

Posture and Environment for the Mantra Chanting: The practitioner should chant the mantra in a quiet and comfortable place where he can chant the mantra in a sitting or sleeping pose. He can light a candle or create a peaceful environment to enhance his concentration and focus.

Breathing while chanting a Mantra:
 It is recommended that the practitioner takes a few deep breaths to relax his body calm his mind and focus his breath to center himself before starting the mantra chanting.

Chanting the Mantra: The practitioner should repeat the chosen mantra either silently or aloud. This is called Mansik and Vachik Jaap. He should pay attention to the rhythm and sound of the mantra and can use a Jaap Mala or counting rosary (prayer beads) to keep track of the number of repetitions.

Mindfulness about the Mantra: If the mind wanders, while chanting the mantra, he should gently bring it back to the mantra. He should be present and mindful during the mantra chanting, allowing the mantra to become a focal point of his awareness.

Duration for chanting the Mantra: The practitioner can start with shorter sessions and gradually increase the duration as he starts becoming more comfortable with the practice.

Closure of the Mantra Chanting:
After completing the mantra chanting session, the practitioner should take a moment for gratitude or reflection.

It's essential to approach mantra chanting with sincerity and an open heart. The repetition of the mantra is not just about the sound but about the intention and focus you bring to the practice. The practitioner should experiment with different mantras and find one that resonates with him personally.

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