The meaning of mantra
Mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of “creating transformation” by means of sound-vibrations.
Shloka or Stotra, on the other hand is like a song or verse.
The effect of a mantra happens purely by its sound vibration, even if one does not understand its meaning. Understanding the meaning makes the practice more meaningful and gives focus and aspiration.
Shloka or stotra are verses in praise of God and that helps us focus our devotion and we should know the meaning. Some shlokas can have the characteristics of a mantra but all do not.
There are three mantras that are beneficial for all aspects of our life:
Mahamritunjaya mantra: For health, well-being and healing of diseases. Chant this mantra at least 24 times a day. The vibration of the mantra creates transformation and stops disease or illness and establishes health and well-being.
Gayatri mantra: To develop intelligence, knowledge and wisdom, and to expand the consciousness. Perception and attention are sharpened, retention and memory power are enhanced, and there is growth in intelligence. In order to develop awareness, wisdom and understanding, chant the Gayatri mantra twenty-four times every day.
Om: For peace and spiritual awakening. Om is the word of God. The whole world culminates in the vibration Om. The Mother of Aurobindo ashram has once said that when Om is chanted peace happens. Chant this mantra twenty-four times a day.
Chanting can be loud, in whisper or in silence mentally.
Start with loud chanting and when you progress you will be able to chant in whisper and in silence and still keep your concentration.
Do not rush and do it in a calm and measured pace.
It is not necessary to understand the meaning while chanting these three mantras. They will have their effect even if you do not know the meaning. Just like fire burns whether or not you know whether fire burns or not, the vibration of these mantras is enough to do the job
The three mantras in Sanskrit and English transliteration and meaning are given below. Chant regularly and transformation will happen.
Mantra for healing
Om Tryambakam Yajamahe
Mrityor Mukshiya Maamritat
We Meditate on the Three-eyed reality
Which permeates and nourishes all like a fragrance.
May we be liberated from death for the sake of immortality,
Even as the cucumber is severed from bondage to the creeper.
Mantra for wisdom