The concept of mantra meditation started in India. This is the reason why most mantras are in Sanskrit, which is the language used in the Vedas – the oldest known written texts. Though the Sanskrit language is very old and uncommon, it has the phonetic significance and the ability to produce powerful sound vibration that is still found in the numerous mantras written in this language.
There are many misconceptions about what a mantra is and why they are repeatedly chanted during meditation. Many knowledgeable individuals believe that mantra is only a boring repetition of words that does not affect the consciousness but only leads you to sleep. Other wrong notions exist because people are not fully aware of the mechanisms of mantras. So before using mantras to meditate, you must have no doubts in your mind about them.
Foremost in mantra meditation is that you must be fully aware of its meaning. If you are one of those who repeat a mantra in a mechanical fashion, then it will just be like any ordinary word. The most important requisite in mantra meditation is for you to emotionally feel the mantra. If this emotional attachment is absent, then the mantra is nothing more than a lullaby.
It also seems logical that since a mantra creates a powerful sound, all that needs to be done is repeating it using a recorder and just listen to it whenever you want to achieve a meditative state. However, this is not so. If you record a mantra and just listen to it then you are only passively listening and will act as a lullaby that gets you to sleep. So keep in mind that there are two basic requirements to get any benefit out of mantra meditation: 1) the mantra’s sound; and 2) orally repeating the mantra with full awareness and faith in its meaning.
Interestingly, there is also the misunderstanding that you need to repeat saying the mantra with sufficient sound and not just a whisper or a hum. While it is true that all your actions and thoughts produce a sound, there is no difference between saying a mantra loudly or silently. Therefore, when repeating a mantra, you must have some emotional reason for doing so and you must know its meaning because chanting a mantra is different from merely listening to a recording.