Vedic Meditation Mantras 101: A Complete Guide
A mantra is a word or phrase that is repeated for a purpose. Brands have taglines that act like mantras, or they can be personal values or reminders. Some religions repeat certain phrases with significant meaning to the group. Affirmations and mantras are referenced interchangeably in some circles, all with the purpose of remembering a feeling or idea that is meaningful.
Vedic Meditation mantras are different than these, however. Specifically, Vedic Meditators use a Bija mantra. In this article, we’ll discuss what Vedic Meditation mantras are and why they’re different from other kinds.
WHAT IS A VEDIC MEDITATION MANTRA
The mantras used in Vedic Meditation come from the Shankaracharya tradition, which is the undisputed Supreme source of ancient Indian philosophy. They are called Bija mantras. Bija means ‘seed’ in Sanskrit, and mantra means ‘mind vehicle.’ So the Bija mantra is a sound that seeds relaxation by acting as a vehicle for the mind to a de-excited, less stressed state.
Here are the unique properties of a Bija mantra:
- It has no intended meaning
- It is not spoken or written
- It is not chanted out loud
- Each meditator receives one mantra
- Bija mantras are assigned to new meditators by a formally trained instructor of Vedic Meditation
- Bija mantras can only be received in person
- Bija mantras do not hypnotize the mind
- There are groups of Bija mantras: many, but not thousands or millions
These properties will be explored further into the discussion here, but the most important thing to note is that the Bija mantra is a sound vibration with no intended meaning in any language. Each mantra has a melodious and enchanting quality to it that, when repeated in the mind, can arise effortlessly alongside other thoughts.
HOW DOES THE VEDIC MEDITATION MANTRA WORK?
Since a Bija mantra vibration with no intention or meaning, it does not bring up any associations or other thoughts to the mind of the meditator. When the meditator thinks the mantra in their meditation (alongside their other thoughts), the mantra naturally draws the mind towards the mantra, and away from any other thoughts. The melodious, alluring sound vibration of the mantra ‘charms’ the mind to draw its attention effortlessly to the mantra.
As the Vedic Meditator silently repeats the mantra – without force or effort, simply allowing the sound to arise naturally alongside their thoughts – the mantra will become quieter and fainter. And as the mantra becomes fainter, the mind is even more drawn to that subtle sound, all along settling into quieter and quieter states of the mind. At a certain point inside meditation, the Bija mantra disappears from a Vedic Meditator’s awareness completely, and the mind follows the subtle sound vibration to a place of inner transcendence.
In these moments beyond thought, the mind experiences complete satisfaction. No thought, not even the mantra, can compete with the bliss that the mind is experiencing in that supremely quiet, inner silence. This effortless Vedic mantra Meditation allows meditators with busy minds and those who can focus alike to experience the deep rest of meditation easily.
WHAT ARE THE VEDIC MEDITATION MANTRAS?
Unlike other forms of meditation involving mantras, you won’t find a Vedic Meditation mantra list or Vedic Meditation mantra examples. They are not written down but passed orally and in person from qualified instructors to students in a beginner Vedic Meditation Course. The meditator doesn’t share their mantra, as it’s been selected uniquely for them.
Instructors who have completed extensive training with Thom Knoles are experts in the knowledge of Vedic Meditation mantras, and how to appropriately assign them. Just as in Ayurveda there are several psychophysiological types, a Vedic Meditation teacher is able to a mantra that best suits their students. You won’t find YouTube Channels, blog posts, or virtual meetings to help with choosing a mantra for Vedic Meditation.
HOW YOU GET A VEDIC MEDITATION MANTRA IS AS IMPORTANT AS THE MANTRA ITSELF
One thing to keep in mind is that while being assigned a Vedic Meditation mantra is essential in meditating effortlessly and easily, the way in which you practice with the mantra is equally as important.
Similar to learning to drive, it’s not enough to be given the keys to the car; it’s equally as important to learn how to drive the car, too. This is why instruction on how to use the mantra is critical in setting up a successful Vedic Meditation practice, and why we only teach it in an in-person course format.
ARE BIJA MANTRAS RELIGIOUS?
Though Bija mantras originated in the ancient Vedic times, they are not associated with a religion. The mantras are primordial sounds and predate even Sanskrit. Because Vedic Meditation mantras work on the level of vibration, and not on the level of meaning, you won’t be suggesting a belief to your mind or practicing a suggestive ritual. The mantra is only meant to bring the mind to a de-excited state, and allow the body to deeply rest.
The Vedic worldview sees stress in the body as the main source of dissonance with your true inner nature, the intention of meditation and stress release is seen as the most direct way to bring a meditator to higher states of consciousness and personal growth.
The Vedic Worldview represents a philosophy of how the body responds to stress and what your true nature is, but it doesn’t discuss prayer or faith or God. Vedic Meditation is a method to effortlessly release stress consistently every day, without sacrificing too much time from your schedule.
VEDIC MANTRAS VS OTHER MANTRA TYPES
Many forms of mantras are like reminders or values. Repeating a positive value or phrase to oneself over and over again (sometimes referred to as affirmations) affects the mind’s suggestibility. When a person manipulates their suggestible mind, they train themselves to believe or feel something regularly that may or may not be reflective of their true inner nature. These affirmations may be ones coming from a stressed inner experience, which would then reaffirm a narrow way in which to view the world.
Chanting or repeating a phrase with intended meaning does not reduce stress in the body, either. Though the phrase may bring up positive feelings temporarily, the body will have the same amount of stored stress and fatigue as it did before. That means that the default state, even with the mantra or affirmation, is still stressed.
Vedic Meditation mantras guide the mind to a less and less excited state so that the body can release stress and experience its true inner essence. This means that a person’s nervous system is de-excited and their ability to recover from the effects of stress increases with each twenty-minute meditation sitting.
THE BIJA MANTRA AND STRESS
Vedic Meditators will become less and less susceptible over time, as a result of regularly setting their mind into the blissful state of transcendence. The Bija mantra takes the mind to a deeper place of pure being, where influences and manipulation cannot penetrate (because they work at the level of the mind).
The Bija mantra works in an opposite way from hypnotic or ‘affirmation’ style meditations or chants and creates positive results in the mind and body by transcending thought and releasing stress, and taking the person to a place of inner quiet that is less and less suggestible.
Over time, contact with pure Being, that place of serene inner quietude, inside meditation, and the release of stress that comes from that experience will enable the meditator to respond to potential stressors in their daily life differently. Instead of remembering their affirmation to behave a certain way and mentally choosing how to behave, the Vedic Meditator will naturally respond with interactivity instead of reactivity, milder reactions, and more appropriate actions in the face of a high-demand situation.
Vedic Meditators are also less suggestible – which means that fewer and fewer triggers will be able to suggest to them that something is wrong, or they should feel mad, sad, guilty, or the like. They will respond to situations from a place of calm and resilience, rather than by feeling triggered.
A few other benefits of meditating with a Bija mantra are:
- Ease, naturalness, and enjoyment inside meditation
- No fighting thoughts inside a meditation sitting
- A sense of restoration and vitality after meditation sittings
- Greater acceptance of thoughts in meditation
- A preference and natural draw towards ease rather than force
- Deeper, more restful sleep
- Less reactivity
- More enjoyment and presence in life over time
- A return to balance in mind, body and spirit
- Positive physiological effects as the body has to manage less accumulated stress
Most people experience a sense of calm and better sleep almost immediately when they start practicing Vedic Meditation with a Bija mantra. Month over month for the first 6 months, the noticeable improvements will increase.
Many meditators have said that twice-daily Vedic Meditations have changed their life for the better, as they more quickly recognize which people, situations, and roles suit them in life and which may no longer serve their greatest evolution. Many say that they feel their emotions are balanced and easy, as they negatively react to stress less and less, or their triggerability decreases dramatically.
HOW DO I START A VEDIC MEDITATION?
Vedic Meditation mantras can be received by a qualified instructor in a beginner Vedic Meditation Course. In order to take the course, you can begin with a virtual or in-person introductory talk to learn about what Vedic Meditation is and how the course works. You can also ask your questions in this talk.
To take the course, you will meet your instructor for about two hours a day over four consecutive days, either with a group or on your own. Your instructor will assign you a mantra and show you how to use it correctly. You’ll learn how to effortlessly allow the mantra to arise in your meditations, and how to integrate two twenty-minute meditations into your daily schedule.
THE BIJA MANTRA FOR BUSY MINDS
If you are someone who has struggled to stay consistent in your meditation practice, or you have trouble ‘getting rid of your thoughts in meditation,’ Vedic Meditation with a Bija mantra may be a good fit for you. You will not be required to ‘stop thinking’ and will get the chance each day to release stress and deeply rest. The two twenty-minute sessions can integrate into your schedule more easily than many other forms of meditation which require 30-minute to 1-hour sessions, too.
THE BIJA MANTRA FOR ANXIETY AND DEMANDING SCHEDULES
If you’ve dealt with anxiety or have a demanding career or responsibilities, Vedic Meditation with a Bija mantra is a helpful way to stay resilient to stress and avoid burnout. The more you meditate (even with a stressful, busy life), the more you’ll intuitively know when you need a break. You’ll also feel less rushed and pushed by psychological pressures, as your nervous system down-regulates and your emotions are less affected by stress and anxiety.
WHAT IF I MEDITATE ALREADY?
If you have an existing mindfulness or meditation practice, you can continue it alongside a Vedic Meditation practice– but not at the same time. Since the Bija mantra uniquely works to effortlessly bring the mind to a de-excited state, if you’re listening to a guided meditation track or thinking of another technique during meditation, Vedic Meditation mantras won’t work to bring the body into deep rest and stress release.
As the body is less and less stressed, you may find that your other practices are easier or unnecessary to help you feel centered, connected, or relaxed.
Your sensitivity to your own needs and body will increase as you continue to practice the Vedic Meditation technique, and your suggestibility will decrease. This means that other kinds of meditation techniques may feel more enjoyable, but they won’t be able to manipulate your mind as easily. Rather than relying on hours of daily practice to manage your stress and feel like you want to feel, you’ll be able to reach those states with less (or no) effort.
Learning how to meditate with a Bija mantra from a qualified meditation instructor is the best way to introduce a mantra into your meditation. If you’re looking to deepen your meditation practice or seeking a technique that will release stress from your mind and body effortlessly, then the Learn to Meditate course can help you create a steady practice.