Now, a lot of you reading this are already familiar with transcendental meditation (TM), but for those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, transcendental meditation is a type of meditation that was developed in the 1950s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
It’s a simple technique that involves sitting comfortably with your eyes closed and silently repeating a mantra for 20 minutes twice a day.
In this article, I’m going to share 28 of the most effective TM mantras with you, as well as some popular mantras that are widely used in prayers, meditation, and yoga.
Let’s jump right in:
28 most effective transcendental meditation mantras
While you don’t need a teacher to practice TM, I strongly recommend learning how to do TM correctly with a certified teacher – in fact, that’s what Maharishi Mahesh intended.
TM teachers have a unique understanding of each mantra and how it should be used. Their knowledge has been passed down for generations.
Upon getting to know you, your teacher is supposed to give you your mantra and teach you how to use it. The mantra is meant to stay a secret.
Below are 28 of the most effective TM mantras that have been used by teachers and gurus over the years.
Mantras used by TM teachers in 1969
Mantras used by TM teachers in 1972
Mantras used by TM teachers in 1976
Mantras used by TM teachers in 1987 – today
If you decide to give TM a try but are unable – for one reason or another – to get a teacher, the mantras listed above are extremely effective, after all, that’s why the teachers use(d) them.
You’ll notice that many of the mantras are similar with only minor differences. For example Sham and Shama or Kirim and Shirim.
You can also see that some of the mantras get used over again in different years, you might want to give one of them a try.
Other popular mantras
While TM mantras are sounds without meaning that you are meant to silently repeat in your head, there are other popular mantras that are often chanted or repeated out loud during meditation, yoga, prayer, and religious teachings.
These mantras aren’t just meaningless words, they’re usually words or sentences in Sanskrit. You may want to try silent meditation with one of them.
Let’s take a look at what these mantras mean and when they’re normally used:
“Om” is one of the first things that comes to mind when people think about meditation, but what exactly is it?
Om (or Aum) is the prime symbol of Hinduism and one of the most important spiritual sounds. It is the sonic representation of the divine in Indic traditions.
It is often chanted during spiritual recitation or used as a mantra during meditation in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.
It is said to increase alertness and sensory activity.
2) Sat Nam
Sat Nam is a combination of two ancient Sikh words, “Sat” meaning “truth” and “Nam” meaning “name” – essentially it means “I am truth”.
The mantra is a reminder to be honest with one’s words and actions and to stay true to one’s own self.
If you’ve ever done Kundalini Yoga, you may already be familiar with the mantra as it’s commonly chanted during the practice.
3) Om Mani Padme Hum
This is a Buddhist mantra that is said to invoke the blessings of Avalokiteshvara – the bodhisattva of compassion.
It’s commonly translated from Sanskrit as, “The jewel is in the lotus.”
It’s a mantra that is supposed to invoke compassion and connect you to your loving nature.
4) Ra Ma Da Sa
This is another mantra that is often used in Kundalini yoga.
It is a combination of four sounds that are said to create a positive vibration that helps release stress and tension as well as to bring balance to the body and the mind.
- “Ra” represents the sun and the masculine energy
- “Ma” represents the moon and the feminine energy
- “Da” represents the Earth and the healing energy
- “Sa” represents infinity and the enlightenment energy
5) So Hum
The literal translation of this Sanskrit mantra is “I am that” but the deeper meaning is “I am one with the Universe”.
This is a great mantra for anyone that’s looking for love and support.
This mantra is believed to bring inner peace and calm to the practitioner as it means “peace” in Sanskrit.
It is used in both Buddhist and Hindu practices to invoke inner peace. It is often chanted three times to represent peace in the body, the mind, and the spirit.
7) Ek Ong Kar Sat Gur Prasad
Ek Ong Kar Sat Gur Prasad is a powerful Sikh mantra that is believed to transform negativity into positivity.
The mantra can be translated as “There is one creator of all” or “The creator and creation are one”.
If you’re dealing with some negative energy in your life, this mantra may help you turn things around/this could be the mantra for you.
8) Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo
Here’s one more mantra that is often used in Kundalini yoga.
Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo means, “I bow to the divine within” and is a call for the practitioner to connect to their inner teacher and to the higher self.
It’s a call for guidance and protection from the divine.
It’s said to have a high vibration and it is believed that it will bring insight to the practitioner.
9) Ananda hum
Ananda means “bliss” or “happiness” and hum means “I” or “I am”, thus this Sanskrit mantra translates as, “I am bliss” and is great for anyone who is looking to awaken their blissful and happy nature.
This is said to be the sound that we naturally make when we breathe, so whether we know it or not, we are constantly chanting Hamsa.
Ham is the sound we make as we exhale and Sa is the sound we make as we inhale.
You will find that some people reverse it, so the mantra becomes So’ham.
It is said that Hamsa gives you energy while So’ham relaxes you.
11) Aham Prema
This mantra is normally translated as “I am divine love” as it comes from the Sanskrit aham meaning “I” and prema meaning “love”.
This mantra is said to have very powerful vibrations – and what can be more powerful than divine love?
12) Om Namah Shivaya
This is a popular Hindu mantra that translates as “I bow to Shiva”. It is used to invoke the blessings of Lord Shiva.
Om Namah Shivaya is said to bring a sense of inner peace and serenity to the practitioner.
13) Om Shanti Shanti Shanti
This mantra invokes peace.
You’ll find that a lot of Hindu teachings often end in Om Shanti Shanti Shanti. The mantra is repeated three times to invoke peace on all levels of consciousness: wakefulness, sleep, and dream.
As I mentioned earlier, om represents the divine in the form of sound and shanti means peace.
14) Sa Ta Na Ma
It is an ancient mantra composed of four sounds that represent the four parts of the cycle of creation:
- Sa (Birth)
- Ta (Life)
- Na (Death)
- Ma (Rebirth)
The mantra is often used to bring the practitioner into a meditative state, cultivating a connection to the creative energy of the Universe.
15) Aad Guray Nameh
This is a meditation mantra from the Sikh tradition. It translates as, “I bow to the primal wisdom”.
The Aad Guray Nameh is said to be a powerful mantra of protection as it invokes the protective energy of the universe.
This is the full mantra:
Aad Guray Nameh
Jugaad Guray Nameh
Sat Guray Nameh
Siri Guroo Dayvay Nameh
I bow to the Primal Wisdom
I bow to the Wisdom of all the ages
I bow to the True Wisdom
I bow to the Great Invisible Wisdom
How is TM different from other types of meditation?
TM is one of the most widely practiced forms of meditation and has been around since the 1950s when it was developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to reduce stress and increase awareness.
So how is TM different from other types of meditation?
Whereas other types of meditation usually require the practitioner to focus on something – such as their breath or a sound – TM doesn’t require any special concentration or focus.
TM consists of the practitioner sitting comfortably, with their eyes closed, and silently repeating a mantra.
In TM, the mantras are supposed to be sounds without any meaning, making it easier for the practitioner to “switch off” their thoughts.
Another thing that sets it apart from other meditation techniques is that the mantras are not chanted out loud but instead are silent. TM mantras are not English words, they’re sounds that are meant to help the mind enter a state of inner stillness and peace by taking your attention away from active thinking.
TM is said to be more profound than other meditation techniques. This is probably because of the fact that TM requires no particular focus, making it easier for the practitioner to enter a deep state of relaxation. It is said that this deep state of relaxation is good for both the practitioner’s physical and mental health. It has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus, and even help reduce pain.
What’s more, TM is very accessible – it’s a simple technique that can be practiced anywhere that you can sit comfortably with your eyes closed for 20 minutes.
TM is practiced twice a day so you may want to do it as soon as you wake up or as you ride the subway to work, and then again later in the day – maybe on your way back from work or even before you go to bed.
This makes it an ideal form of meditation for people who don’t have a lot of free time or who find other types of meditation challenging.
What are the benefits of TM?
Research has shown that TM may have physical, mental, cognitive, and emotional benefits.
- Improved cardiovascular health: Studies have shown that TM can help reduce blood pressure, improve circulation and increase oxygen flow to the heart. According to one study, “The wide range of effects of TM practice on cardiovascular health suggests that the TM technique may be considered in clinical applications for both the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.”
- Reduced response to pain
- Reduced insomnia and improvement in sleep: TM has been linked to an increase in the production of melatonin – a natural hormone that helps control your sleep cycle and is often thought to be responsible for promoting good sleep.
Mental health benefits
- Regular TM practice can help reduce stress and anxiety.
- Regular TM practice has also been linked to a reduction in the symptoms of depression.
- It’s also been said to improve one’s overall mental well-being.
- Increased focus and concentration: By focusing on a mantra, the meditator is able to let go of any mental clutter and enter a state of deep relaxation.
- It has also been linked to improved mental clarity and concentration as well as productivity and creativity.
- Improved memory: TM helps improve both short-term and long-term memory recall.
- Improved emotional regulation: TM helps to create a sense of inner stability, which can lead to better emotional regulation and resilience.
- Improved self-awareness
- Improved self-confidence
- Improved emotional well-being and happiness
How do Transcendental Meditation mantras work?
The purpose of the mantra is not to be the focal point of the practitioner, but rather, it serves to divert their minds away from their thoughts.
Silently repeating the sound of the mantra quiets the mind and helps the practitioner reach a state of inner peace and deep relaxation.
There are two very important components of TM that make this possible:
- Unlike affirmations and mantras used elsewhere, the mantra needs to be a meaningless sound, not a word.
Otherwise, the practitioner could get lost thinking about the meaning of that word and this would stop them from transcending the surface of the mind.
- The repetition of the mantra is used to create a mental vibration that resonates throughout the body. The vibrational resonance is thought to help alight the mind, body, and spirit, and it’s said to have calming and healing effects.
A step-by-step guide to practicing transcendental meditation
For best results, you should practice transcendental meditation twice a day for 20 minutes.
1) Choose a quiet place to practice
While in theory you could practice TM on a bus, the best place to do it (especially if you’re a beginner) is in a quiet, comfortable spot where you won’t be disturbed.
This could be on a cushion in your bedroom, on a comfy couch, or even sitting on the grass in the garden.
Switch your phone off or put it on silent mode. You don’t want someone to call or text you in the middle of your meditation, do you? It would kind of defeat the purpose.
2) Sit comfortably
Next, you want to make sure you’re comfortable. The spine should be upright but not rigid.
I like to sit in a lotus position but it can be hard to keep up for 20 minutes if you’re not used to the practice.
If your back needs a bit of support, that’s ok, you can sit on your couch as I mentioned earlier or against a wall, or even a tree.
You don’t want to spend the whole time thinking about how much your back hurts, do you?
Alternatively, you could do TM lying down, but you risk falling asleep – it’s your call.
3) Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths
Now close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Relax your body and mind.
Sit quietly like this for a few minutes. Notice any thoughts and feelings that come up.
4) Think of your mantra
Normally your TM teacher should give you your mantra. They have a simple procedure to choose the mantra that is most suitable for you.
But don’t worry if you don’t have a teacher, you can choose one of the mantras I’ve shared with you.
Make sure that it’s a mantra that resonates with you.
5) Begin your meditation
Begin by repeating your mantra silently to yourself.
Focus on the sound of the mantra in your head and slowly let your thoughts drift away.
If you find your thoughts drifting away from your mantra, that’s ok, just gently bring them back.
Do this for 20 minutes. You may want to set a gentle alarm on your phone to tell you when your time is up.
6) End your meditation
Once your 20 minutes are up and you feel ready, slowly open your eyes and bring your attention back to your surroundings.
Now take a few deep breaths and slowly get up. You are now ready to get back to whatever it is that you need to be doing.
Other types of meditation to try
I think that every type of meditation has its benefits. It all comes down to what you as the practitioner feel most comfortable with.
It may take trying out a few different types of meditation before finding the one that’s best suited to you.
Let’s take a look at your options:
This is actually the type of meditation that I practice the most.
You see, years ago when I had panic attacks and long periods of depression, my therapist suggested that I try mindfulness meditation.
What convinced me was the fact that mindfulness is often used within the context of therapy – in fact, practitioners have come up with Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) to help people suffering from depression.
Mindfulness is all about being aware and present in the moment. During your practice, you are encouraged to be mindful of your thoughts, feelings, and any sensations in your body that may arise, without judgment.
By focusing on the present moment, mindfulness alleviates anxiety. You see, when we are present, we don’t regret the past and we don’t worry about the future.
What’s more, mindfulness cultivates an attitude of acceptance which can lead to greater peace of mind and feelings of happiness.
To practice mindfulness:
- Find a quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed
- Sit up with your back straight – you may lean against something to support your back
- Close your eyes
- Now, you can either choose to focus on your breath (which is what I recommend), the sensations in your body, or the sounds around you.
- If you’ve chosen to focus on your breath, notice how the cold air feels as it enters your nose. Notice how your belly rises as it fills up with air. See how the air feels warmer as you breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out.
- During the practice, your mind will wander and you will keep bringing it back to your breath.
- Don’t be hard on yourself and don’t judge yourself for not being able to focus on your breath. When a thought comes up, acknowledge it, then go back to your breath.
- I suggest that you start with 10-minute sessions and gradually work your way up to 40 minutes.
- For best results, try to practice every day.
This is a wonderful meditation that encourages feelings of love and kindness towards others as well as towards oneself.
It’s a great one to do if you’re feeling down or are being too hard on yourself as it cultivates compassion and understanding.
To practice loving-kindness:
- As with TM and mindfulness, you want to make sure you’re comfortable and away from distractions.
- With your eyes closed, focus on your breath for a few minutes.
- Now, silently repeat these positive affirmations to yourself: May I be happy; May I be free from suffering; May I be healthy, May I be at peace.
- As you repeat these phrases, notice the feeling of warmth spread throughout your body. Focus on the feelings of love and kindness towards yourself.
- You can also focus on somebody you care about when doing loving-kindness. I did it thinking about my mother recently and it made me very emotional and brought tears to my eyes.
I like to do a body scan after a long and stressful day. It helps me relax and sleep better.
The goal of this meditation exercise is to relax the body and get rid of any tension.
Here’s how to do it:
- You can do it either by sitting or lying down. I usually do it lying down in my bed before going to sleep.
- Start by bringing your attention to your toes. How do they feel? Relaxed? Tense? Cold? Hot? Itchy?
- Slowly work your way up to your head – from your feet to your ankles, calves, knees, thighs, pelvis, hips, stomach, chest, arms, neck, and head.
- Make sure you really take the time to feel the sensations on each part of the body.
- Allow your breath to move through any areas of tension.
- This exercise normally lasts about 40 minutes, but you can adjust it to your pace if you want to go a little faster or slower.
Do this before going to bed and I guarantee you’ll sleep like a baby.
Did you know that meditation doesn’t necessarily have to be done sitting or lying still?
That’s right, you can do walking meditation!
It’s a great practice that’s best done outdoors in nature. You can do it alone or in a group.
The goal of walking meditation is to develop an awareness of one’s surroundings and in so doing, calm the mind and relax the body.
This is how it’s done:
- Find a safe place to walk.
- Start to walk slowly.
- Pay close attention to the physical sensations of walking. Notice the way your feet feel when they touch the ground; the way your muscles contract and release as you move; and the rhythm of your breath.
- Notice the cold air on your face and hands, your body starting to shiver. Or notice how the humidity and heat feel on your body, how you’re becoming hotter and sweatier with each movement.
- As with other meditation practices, your mind is bound to wander. That’s ok. Gently bring your attention back to your body and to the physical sensations of walking.
It’s a great one to do during your lunch break. You’ll come back to work feeling refreshed and stress-free, ready to tackle anything that comes your way.