Mantra is an ancient practice in many cultures used to transform one's vibration. By attuning to certain vocal sounds, we awaken healing within our body, mind and soul. Long ago, the sages of Vedic culture created a science of mantra, writing down the Sanskrit language. Every single word in the Sanskrit language is meant to be an invocation of divinity (infinite presence). Why? Because these sages were attuned to divinity and therefore, the words that issued from them were connected to the divine. Sanskrit is still used today, particularly in temples during holy ceremonies.
As it is said in the Bible, "In the beginning, there was the Word, and the Word was God." This suggests that all of creation comes from a vibration known as the "Word." In Christianity, the universal sound is called "Amen." In Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, the word Ameen is also used. In Vedic culture (ancient India), the primordial sound is "Om," pronounced "A-U-M" or AWW-OO-MM. Where does the word come from? Saints and great Yogis go into meditation and hear the universal sound deep within themselves. Of course, the sound may be spelled differently in different traditions, but it is there. Under the guidance of the great saints, we chant the sound of "Om" which brings us closer to the God Principle.
According to Sanskrit definition, the word mantra can be broken down into "man-" meaning thought and "-tra" meaning instrument. Therefore, mantra is an instrument of thought. We use it to focus our mind on something positive (although the mind can certainly focus on a negative thought/mantra). Ideally, the spiritual aspirant receives a mantra from the sage (an enlightened being) and chants it in order to connect with the wisdom and understanding of that sage. This "passing of the torch" is also called an initiation. It is like a flame has been lit inside the aspirant that can now grow by feeding the flame with the specific mantra. One common mantra passed down over the generations is the sound, "So Hum," which means "I am That." "That" is the place from whence all creation comes from." In other words, one chants this mantra to awaken the realization of one's essential nature. Some yogis will chant this single mantra their whole life, meditating upon the energy that arises from it.
There are many more mantras with specific energies built within them. They can heal the senses, specific body parts, and specific aspects of the mind. Whatever you are trying to heal, there is likely a mantra for that issue. One can chant it aloud or silently moving the lips and tongue or in the mind. If one chants it aloud, the vibration changes the physical atmosphere and internal landscape. Internal chanting transforms one's subtle body (mind, emotions). Sometime, we gather together to sing the mantras aloud. This is called kirtan, a method of empowering everyone's mantra practice through group alignment. Indeed, kirtan can make chanting fun and lively - more like a celebration.
It is a worthwhile endeavor to try mantra as the effects are often healing, soothing, and meditative.
Om Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu