When you think of mantra, if you are a student of yoga, you probably think of the recitation of beautiful Sanskrit phrases with a spiritual purpose. In a nutshell, the idea behind mantras is that specific words you repeat may become part of who you and reveal, over time, truths about yourself and your connection to a deeper source, when recited regularly with faith and feeling.
I like to explain it like this: What you think, you become. Thoughts and words can shape us – both the thoughts we speak inside our own mind and the words directed at us from others, when we internalize those words.
Mantras, if we expand our definition and view a little bit, are everywhere, really. And they are very powerful in every form they take.
The negative voice in your head becomes a mantra: “I can’t do this. I’m afraid. I’m not good enough. I’m ugly, I’m fat.” Eventually, these become a kind of truth, because a person who has these thoughts will react fearfully, will doubt himself, will see an unattractive person in every mirror she looks into. The repetitive negative voice in your head can also be directed at other people, “She’s fat. He is stupid. They are lazy.” Etc. A person thinking these thoughts will have a hard time seeing the good in the people and events around them, even when the good is clear to others. The Marketing and PR industries are masters of mantra: “You deserve a break today!” “Just do it” “Indulge yourself.” “It does a body good!”
Do you ever feel like your head is full of other people’s ideas and images of who you should be and what you should desire or become?
Ask yourself what kinds of mantras you repeat to your children every day.
Do you sometimes feel like the proverbial ‘broken record.’ “Hurry up, we’re going to be late!” “Homework is important. You need to do good in school.” “You need to do better.” “You’re being (fill in the blank).” “Stop doing (fill in the blank).” “I love you. Have a great day!”
Are most of your messages like the last one, or like the ones preceding it?
What if we were to change our messages, our daily silent and spoken mantras and introduce positive, encouraging, proactive mantras for our kids – and ourselves? Mantras and messages that encourage us to tune into our inner, authentic voice and tune out the negative, distracting, thoughtlessly repeated messages that divide us from that authentic, wise, and loving voice?
The following 6 mantras are for children in that they are simple enough to be understood by children, and they are fun to say. However, they are also for grown-ups. A simple message is sometimes the most powerful message. And at younger ages, in particular, kids love when you say them together. One is in Sanskrit and traditional mantra verse. Two are in Gurmukhi and best known as performed by Snatam Kaur. I use them in all my children’s classes. The children absolutely love them. I love them, too! The other three are original, though the meanings they represent are universal and found in many teachings.
Feel free to add movement, vary the intonations, do them indoors, outdoors, jumping on your bed, running in circles – it doesn’t matter. Whatever you feel like doing – however your child wants to express the feelings of the mantra – let them be free to explore that and have fun with them! Don’t be surprised if you hear your kids saying them on their own one day, without any prompting from you.
Everywhere is Light
I am light
You are light
Everything is full of light!
The Nurturing Sun
The sun is in the sky
The sun is in me
The sun is in every person, every creature, every blade of grass and tree!
The sun loves all the world equally
I am Free
I feel happy,
I am not my happiness
I feel sad
I am not my sadness
I am free, I am unlimited possibility!
Breathing in, I bring joy and energy into my heart and my whole body!
Breathing out, I share energy and joy from my heart and my whole body with the world!
Sa Ta Na Ma
This mantra incorporates finger movements, or mudras. For kids, they are just fun things to do with your fingers Both hands are doing the finger plays, simultaneously. Sa (touch pointer finger to thumb), Ta (touch middle finger to thumb), Na (touch ring finger to thumb), Ma (touch pinkie finger to thumb). For the corresponding song from Snatam’s lovely children’s view the video below:
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shantih
It is preferable to pronounce Sanskrit correctly, but we are not concerned about this for children. The message is what matters. Let them draw out the sound of ‘Om’ as they like, and then to say peace, we say “Shaanti, Shaanti, Shaantiheeee.” The ‘ti’ in Shanti sounds like ‘tea’ (as in a cup of tea). The difference between the first 2 Shanti’s and the last, is that you add a 2nd syllable to the last one. When you add the extra syllable to the last one it sounds like you’ve added the word ‘he’ on the end, but you are drawing it out a little longer; Shanteaheeeee
Say ‘Shanti’ the first time for yourself, the 2nd time for all living things, and the 3rd time for the whole world & universe.
I am Happy, I am Good
I am happy
I am good
I am happy
I am good
Satnam, satnam, satnam -ji!
Wahe guru wahe guru wahe guru ji;
Below is a video of the homeschooling group Liz teaches yoga to, singing “I am Happy, I am Good” with Move with Me’s, Wendy Piret.