Four Mantras to Help Us Flow More Skillfully Through Life

by Ilana Beigel

The ancient yogis believed mantra to be a magic spell that had the ability to change reality. In modern times, mantra has become synonymous with affirmation—a repeated word or phrase that expresses one's foundational beliefs.

Mantra comes from two Sanskrit words: “man” (mind); and “tra” (vehicle or instrument). Thus, mantra is a tool we can use to transport the mind to a state of ease or stillness, and to support feelings of connection.

There are many uses for mantra, including in formal meditation practice: silently repeating English or Sanskrit words or phrases in order to still the mind, increase concentration, or infuse yourself with a desired feeling, energy, or quality. You can pair mantra with conscious breathing, or use mala beads to count 108 recitations. Mantra are also used in the call-and-response format of kirtan.

Mantras can help us flow more mindfully, meditatively, skillfully, and happily through life, supporting us as we navigate the inevitable trials and tribulations. Ranging from short and simple to long and complex, they have tremendous power to shift how we feel about and respond to whatever comes our way, from within or without.

Here are four favorite mantras that I’ve personally used or guided others to use.

I’ve done this before, I can do it again. Having to undergo regular MRI screenings and not liking confined spaces is not a good combination for me. This mantra has supported me through countless 20-minute periods lying motionless in a large, enclosed tube. Try it to help you get through your personal equivalent of an MRI.

So hum. When I wake up in the middle of the night and my mind is racing with my to-do lists and worries, I tether both mind and breath to the Sanskrit words So (on the inhale) and hum (on the exhale), which translate as “I am that.” Vedic scholars interpret “that” as a reference to the Universe. On the surface, this mantra aids in a quick return to sleep; at a deeper level, it provides me with a feeling of protection, safety, and unconditional support.

This too shall pass. In my work as a medical speech-language pathologist providing cognitive therapy, this mantra has been tremendously beneficial for helping patients manage the behavioral and emotional symptoms of traumatic brain injury. It’s a helpful reminder in any difficult moment.

Do my best and forget the rest. When my teenage daughter gets swept up in the stress and anxiety of playing competitive volleyball, this reminder helps her play “her game” while keeping healthy perspective and having fun.

I encourage you to experiment with using mantra as a simple truth that will support you in moving through life with greater joy and ease. 

Ilana Beigel is a Kripalu Yoga educator, life coach, and speech-language pathologist based in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts.