A mantra is a sound, syllable, word or group of words that are repeated to bring about some sort of transformation. There is a physical vibration, an energy, associated with all sound and we can use that energy to create a change in ourselves. Since energy follows intent, the intention behind a mantra is paramount. Quantum Physics has proven that everything that we think of as solid matter is actually vibrational energy arising from consciousness. When we really consider this, then being able to change one’s circumstances through thought becomes very real. Mantra is a way of doing just that.
Man in Sanskrit means ‘think’ and tra means ‘free,’ so a mantra is meant to free us of thinking. Using a mantra gives your mind something concrete to focus on so that the mind doesn’t start wandering. It keeps us focused on our intentions during a meditation practice. It can be very difficult to slow our minds down and to stop the constant chatter and a mantra truly helps with this.
I believe that any word or sound that resonates with you can be used as a mantra. For example, if you were trying to become more loving you might use ‘love’ as a mantra. Your intention would be to create love. If there’s some quality that you wish to attain, you could meditate on that quality while using a mantra.
Hindu yogis define japa, or mantra, as a mystical energy encased in a sound structure. A Sanskrit mantra is constructed from a combination of sounds derived from the 50 letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. These sounds have a definite and predictable effect on the human psyche and body. It is believed that Japa is a way to channel consciousness from the lowest to the highest level of pure thought. It’s a very direct way to self-realization according to yogis. We can’t really define these sorts of sounds, they’re something we experience. They can be very beautiful and meaningful on a deep level. We may not even be aware of why we’re drawn to a Sanskrit mantra, it just feels right.
This website familiarizes us with of some of the Sanskrit mantras and has recordings of them being chanted so people can learn the pronunciation of these words: http://www.true-enlightenment.com/sanskrit-mantras.html
Try it out and see if any of these ancient sounds appeals to you.