Our consciousness consists of deep-seated habits and tendencies. These are the ruts in the field of our consciousness created by repeated mental activity (samskaras) Mantra allows us to iron them out. When we repeat a mantra for a long period of time, this creates an energy that can neutralise the scars left from out distracted mental activity and create a more powerful memory to override them.
Our memories are the subtle sound vibrations that we retain in our consciousness. Memory in the psychological sense – the internal record of hurts and fears – is undigested sound. Such memory is misunderstood sound that leaves a scar upon the mind. It is a vibration that cannot be assimilated into the fabric of the mental field but remains apart and produces changes that distort perception or lead to wrong action. Being constricted sound patterns, memories and their pain can be neutralised by the right mantras, which project a contrary sound energy that breaks up their stagnation.
Any sensation we take personally, that we like of dislike, produces an emotion from fear and desire to love and hate. Sound as the most primary sensory potential, generates the strongest emotions. Each emotion creates a particular kind of sound. More intense emotions usually demand stronger sounds. We sing with joy, shout in anger, cry in sorrow, groan in pain and scream in extreme fear or pain. Sound is the vehicle for emotion, which it can either reinforce or release.
The sound of our words carries an emotional force and transmits an emotional message. It tells how we feel and reveals our underlying psychological condition. We must learn to release the energy bound up inside our emotions. Mantras through their sound energy, produce a certain emotional force or force of feeling. Through these energies we can become conscious of our emotions. We can learn to play with and master emotions. We can learn how to creatively and consciously experience anger, fear, joy or grief like an actor.
Prana, the life-force is the primordial sound vibration behind the universe. There is a sound behind the breath. Our words are created by the outgoing breath. To combine mantra with the breath is a powerful way of changing the energy of the mind. Our emotional disturbances are linked up with wrong movements of the life force. Using mantra and Pranayama together removes these.
Mantras are like asanas for the mind. They give plasticity and adaptability to the mind. They exercise the minds energy and give the mind poise and stability. As asana controls the body, and Pranayama controls the breath, so mantra controls the mind. Mantra maintains strength and integrity of our mental field and sustains proper circulation of energies to it. This reduces our vulnerability to external conditioning, which after all is based largely on names.
Mantras are the most important part of the spiritual and mental therapy of Ayurveda. Mantras are effective tools for correcting mental imbalances. They are easy to use and don’t require any painful or tedious deliberation. They help balance the biological humours of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. They help clear subtle impurities from the nerves and subtle channels (nadis). They aid in concentration and creative thinking.
To be effective a mantra should be repeated a minimum of a hundred times a day for a period of at least one month. Mantras can be repeated any time of the day when the mind is unoccupied. It is good to repeat mantras before sleep to promote right sleep and dreams and after waking up in the morning to promote wholesome mental activity during the day. Repeating a mantra for an extended period gives a mantra bath for the mind and clears it of any negative thoughts and impressions. It is the best thing for cleaning the mind, which is otherwise too dirty with its various self-centred thoughts to concentrate on anything. A mind not cleansed through mantra is unlikely to have the clarity for psychological peace much less spiritual growth.