If you’ve ever been to India, Thailand, or Nepal, you’ve most likely heard the peaceful sound of chanting. Mantras are sacred prayers and a crucial part of worship and spiritual practice in Hinduism and Buddhism.
Sat Nam is the most widely used mantra in the Kundalini yoga lineage and is popular among other spiritual practices. But what is the meaning of Sat Nam, and why do yogis chant it? Let’s find out.
What Does Sat Nam mean?
The Sanskrit phrase Sat Nam translates to “whose name is truth,” “true name,” or “truth is my identity.” The word sat means truth or honesty, while Nam means name or identity. Thus, the Sat Nam meaning can be a self-reflection prompt to help you question your belief systems and access your highest truth.
Sat Nam is a Bij (seed) mantra. It is believed that a Bij mantra contains all the knowledge of a fully-grown tree. Therefore, by chanting this mantra, you can gain the wisdom to uncover your true identity and experience total freedom and inner peace.
Sat Nam & Kundalini Yoga
It is common for a kundalini yoga class to end with a chant of Sat Nam. It can also be chanted as part of a kriya (cleansing practice) to open the chakras and connect to divine consciousness.
Yogi Bhajan, famous for bringing kundalini yoga to the west, believes that chanting Sat Nam helps awaken the soul and uncover your own truth. In addition, it opens your mind to the universal truth, which moves you closer to enlightenment.
In this video, when asked about the meaning of Sat Nam, Yogi Bhajan says, “Sat Nam means I identify the truth as truth, I acknowledge you as true, no question asked.”
How To Practice Sat Nam
You can practice Sat Nam by chanting the two words out loud or in your mind. What’s more, you can work with this sacred mantra in a seated or walking style of meditation or while lying down.
If you’re new to meditation, I recommend starting with a short 5 to 10-minute practice. If you are already experienced, you can try 20 minutes or more. After chanting this mantra, I recommend journaling on the question, “What is truth to you?”
To use Sat Nam in seated meditation, first, find a comfortable position. Meditating with a straight spine is vital, as a good posture will improve your breathing and chanting output. Therefore, use a meditation cushion like this one from Maya Lumbini. It is firm yet soft and specifically designed to prevent back pain so that you can meditate for longer and with more ease.
Once you are comfortable, take a few minutes connected to your breath. Then start long chants of the Sat Nam mantra. As you chant Sat, visualize energy rising from the base of your spine to the crown of your head. Then, as you chant Nam, envision that energy expanding to fill your entire body and the surrounding energy field.
If you struggle to sit still for long periods or have lots of tension in your hips, you may find walking meditation easier. Walking meditation is practiced in several forms of Buddhism and involves mindful placement and movement of the feet.
The idea is to maintain total awareness of each movement your foot makes. Thus, you lift your foot and step forward in slow motion, noticing the sensation as you peel it off the floor and place it back down.
To combine the Sat Nam mantra with mindful walking, repeat the word Sat as you step forward with the right foot and Nam as you step forward with the left; like this: right foot Sat, left foot Nam.
Did you know you can do sat Nam meditation while in bed? Better still, because of the calming effect silent chanting has on the brain, practicing Sat Nam in bed at night will help you drift off to sleep and enjoy a more nourishing night’s rest.
Mentally recite the mantra, linking each worth to each breath. So, as you breathe in, silently repeat Sat, and as you breathe out, say Nam. Then, to maximize feelings of relaxation, extend the words while lengthening your breath.
How To Chant Sat Nam
While chanting has many beautiful benefits, when using a sacred mantra like Sat Nam, it is essential to pronounce it correctly. This is because the way it is pronounced affects the vibration it creates. Therefore, to experience vibrational harmony with this universal mantra, follow this pronunciation guidance:
- Sat should rhyme with but rather than bat. Nam should rhyme with mom rather than mam.
- To correctly pronounce the “t” in Sat, touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth. This will likely feel a bit unusual because, in the English language, we typically pronounce the letter t by bringing the teeth to touch.
- As you chant, ensure the sound is coming from your navel. Imagine you are drawing the sound up through the heart and throat to the roof of the mouth.
Benefits Of Chanting Sat Nam
There is a reason why chanting Sat Nam is a part of most Kundalini yoga classes; in fact, there are several. Here are a few top benefits of mantra-based meditation.
- Reduces anxiety and depression – Scientific studies have found that chanting mantras like Sat Nam for at least 10 minutes can decrease anxious thoughts and symptoms of depression.
- Stimulates the hypothalamus in the brain – This part of the brain is the main link between your endocrine and nervous systems. By strengthening it through chanting, you help maintain homeostasis (a healthy and balanced internal state).
- Increases mental clarity and improves brain function – The spiritual vibrations from Mantra meditation help clear your mind, promoting more coherent thinking and enhancing memory.
- Promotes feelings of peace and happiness – The practice of chanting reduces the number of negative thoughts in your mind and increases the number of positive ones. In addition, singing releases endorphins, the hormone associated with feelings of pleasure.
- Balances the five elements – Chanting Sat Nam balances the five elements of life (known as tattvas), helping you feel grounded, centered, and powerful.
Final Thoughts On Sat Nam Meaning
Sat Nam is the most widely used mantra as it carries the profound ability to better understand yourself and connect to your higher consciousness.
Moreover, you don’t have to be a yoga practitioner or an experienced meditator to use this powerful mantra. Instead, you can experience its benefits today by silently repeating it in your mind while sitting still, walking mindfully, or even lying down.