This first section is not from Sogyal Rinpoche it’s from Wildmind.org
The Definition of Mantra
The word mantra is said to come from a root meaning “that which protects the mind.” In Buddhist meditation, many things can be used as objects of concentration — as “mind protectors.”
The breath is used in anapanasati, or mindfulness of breathing meditation. The sensations of walking are used in walking meditation. The emotions are used as a focus in metta bhavana (development of lovingkindness). And visual images are used in visualization. Mantras are sounds — words or phrases — that are used as an object of concentration.
The sounds may be chanted out loud, or may be heard internally. When the mantra is chanted internally, it is the “inner sound” of the thought that is used as an object of focus in meditation.
Mantras can be associated with particular historical or archetypal figures, or may have no such associations. For example, there are mantras associated with the historical Buddha (Om muni muni maha muni Shakyamuni svaha), and the mythical figure Avalokiteshvara (Om mani padme hum).
And so, when mantras are chanted, the figure associated with the mantra may be visualized, or simply borne in mind. Some of these visualization practices are very complex and detailed.
When the mantra is chanted out loud, the sound of the mantra is a focus for attention, although we may also focus on the vibrations in the body, and the movements of the body — the breathing, the lips, tongue, etc.
Mantra chanting can be a solitary or group activity. It may be done as a formal meditation practice, where we sit specifically to recite the mantra, or it may be combined with our daily activities, and be chanted while we’re walking, or driving, or cooking dinner.
Reciting a Mantra
An excerpt from: The Tibetan Book Of Living and Dying
by Sogyal Rinpoche
A second technique, used a great deal in Tibetan Buddhism (and also in Sufism, Orthodox Christianity and Hinduism), is uniting the mind with the sound of a mantra. The definition of mantra is “that which protects the mind.” That which protects the mind from negativity, or that which protects you from your own mind, is called mantra.
When you are nervous, disoriented, or emotionally fragile, chanting or reciting a mantra inspiringly can change the state of your mind completely by transforming its energy and atmosphere. How is this possible? Mantra is the essence of sound, and the embodiment of the truth in the form of sound. Each syllable is impregnated with spiritual power, condenses a spiritual truth, and vibrates with the blessing of the speech of the buddhas. It is also said that the mind rides on the subtle energy of the breath, the prana, which moves through and purifies the subtle channels of the body. So when you chant a mantra, you are charging your breath and energy with the energy of the mantra, and so working directly on your mind and subtle body.
The mantra I recommend to my students is OM AH HUM VAJRA GURU PADMA SIDDHI HUM (Tibetans say: Om Ah Hung Benza Guru Pema Siddhi Hung), which is the mantra of Padmasambhava, the mantra of all the buddhas, masters, and realized beings, and so uniquely powerful for peace, for healing, for transformation, and for protection in this violent, chaotic age. Recite the mantra quietly, with deep attention, and let your breath, the mantra, and your awareness become slowly one. Or chant it in an inspiring way, and rest in the profound silence that sometimes follows.
Even after a lifetime of being familiar with the practice, I am still sometimes astonished by the power of mantra. A few years ago, I was conducting a workshop for three hundred people in Lyons, France, mostly housewives and therapists. I had been teaching all day, but they seemed really to want to make the most of their time with me and kept on asking me questions, relentlessly, one after another. By the end of the afternoon I was completely drained, and a dull and heavy atmosphere had descended over the whole room. So I chanted a mantra, this mantra I have taught you here. I was amazed by the effect: In a few moments I felt all my energy was restored, the atmosphere around us was transformed, and the whole audience seemed once again bright and enchanting. I have had experiences like this time and time again, so I know it is not just an occasional “miracle”!