Confession: For a long time, my go-to mantra was something to the effect of, “I literally can’t even.” So clearly, my method for self-soothing was less about healing and meditation than it was defeatist catchphrases. Clearly I could use a hearty dose of empowering, balancing, positivity—the pursuit of which led me to “om gam ganapataye namaha.” It’s a mantra you may have blindly repeated on the yoga mat without even knowing it. And with its aims to remove obstacles, negativity and fear, while ushering in new beginnings, perhaps you’d be wise to learn about it, too, so you can speak it with intention the next time you roll out your mat for a flow.
Some background: Lord Ganesha is the elephant-headed Hindu God who is worshipped for his knowledge and wisdom. He’s a guardian of doors and temples, but most importantly, he’s known as the “breaker of obstacles.” Therefore, om gam ganapataye namaha is a kind of prayer or appeal to Ganesha. And hey, phonetically it still gives me “o-m-g” satisfaction of my less-healing uttering of mantras past.
First, here’s what om gam ganapataye namaha means
This mantra is related to replenishing our root chakra, and Ganesha is said to govern the root chakra. Broken down, “om” is that traditional meditative primordial sound that means “wake up.” “Gam” is the sound of Ganesha. “Ganapataye” is another word for Ganesha. And “nahama” means “I offer my salutations and bow to you.” So one full translation of om gam ganapataye namaha is more or less, “salutations to the remover of obstacles.”
My personal translation is more along the lines of, “Hey, Ganesha, can you help me out? I need the energy to open the root chakra and go forth with my life fearlessly.” The root chakra is, after all, pretty all-important as your first chakra (or your red chakra). It’s the center of stability, appropriately located around the base of your spine and pelvic floor, so it makes sense that it’s associated with being an earth element and your body’s base. As such, it focuses on your basic needs: shelter, safety, food, and water. And emotionally, it involves your ability to let go and feel secure. On a mental and emotional level, a blockage in the root chakra can lead to fear, anxiety, and nightmares.
TL;DR? The root chakra is all about stability, and if the base isn’t stable, everything else is going to start to waver. By chanting, om gam ganapataye namaha, we’re asking Ganesha to help us out—we have lives to lead and stability can’t be an issue. He then asks us to connect to the Earth, to connect to our bodies, and to really ground ourselves. By repeating the mantra, you’re making room for the following benefits to come your way.
“Om gam ganapataye namaha,” “om gam ganapataye namaha”—okay, so what exactly are the benefits to repeating it?
To start, the mantra should help silence the anxious thoughts that might be swirling around your head. Simply taking the time to clear your mind and replace it with this mantra can be transportive to a safer mental space. By the time you’ve wrapped up your repetitions, the hope is that you’ll be ready to tackle whatever’s in front of you.
Also, appealing to the root chakra means choosing to align our bodies—and that should promote physical health by bringing better blood circulation and metabolism.
And given that Ganesha is a guardian of doors, he’s a wise guy to dial up if you’re opening a new one. Perhaps you’re about to start a new job or are signing an important business contract. Om gam ganapataye namaha is a good go-to mantra, because it blesses new beginnings, and assuages the fears associated with an unfamiliar situation.
The bottom line? Om gam ganapataye namaha is a great mantra when it comes to grounding yourself. Sure, spirituality isn’t for everyone, but becoming the most mindful, balanced version of yourself requires doing some of the legwork. Mantras are effective for clearing your mind and being present—and om gam ganapataye namaha definitely promotes a can-do attitude. So start with the chant. See what happens. If nothing else, it couldn’t possibly be worse than, say, “I literally can’t even.”
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