What is a mantra?
A mantra is an instrument to free the ego mind, or a way to train, re-program and master the thinking mind.
Mantras are vibrational formulas that surround us in primordial sound frequency that free up energetic blockages and distortions from our field and move them into the chakras to be digested and re-integrated into the body. Repetition of mantra changes the way we see ourselves and the world around us, and builds new neural pathways in the brain. They are vehicles to open deeper into our hearts and raise our consciousness.
Mantras have been used for about 5000-7000 years, though it has only been the past 500 or so that they have been available to the public. Through meditation, Rishis (wise sages & seers), reached very high levels of consciousness, way beyond the mind, and tapped into cosmic sound, which is now called mantra. They can be found translated into English, but do not really have direct translations as they are vibrational formulas, that are beyond what the thinking/analytical mind can perceive, that can change our vibrational signature.
Chanting can sometimes be seen as a religious practice, and turn people off due to the dogmatic culture of some religions. Mantra was established as a practice to reach healing, self-actualization, transcendence previous to any religions being established, therefore is not of a religious background (though most of the major religions use some form of mantra).
Mantra meditation is a science – an exact & precise technique that follows an order, has definite principles and produces results that are predictable and have reliable outcomes/experiences. Therefore, when practicing mantra, you can surrender into the knowing that MANY others have come before you, chanted or sang the same sounds of the universe, and reached high levels of consciousness, allowing yourself to do the same.