Official List of Mantras
Originating in the Vedic tradition of India, Mantras "can be interpreted to be effective as vibration, or more simply as sound, which may include verbal repetition, in the form of chanting, or internal mental repetition. For this reason great emphasis is put on correct pronunciation (resulting in an early development of a science of phonetics in India). Mantras can be used in Eastern spiritual traditions to divert the mind from basic instinctual desires or material inclinations...".
A list of some of the more popular mantras...
aum (pronounced om or oom)
Aum Namah Shivaya
Aum Namo Narayanaya
Aum Shri Ganeshaya Namah
Aum Kalikayai Namah
Namo Loe Savva SahŻnam
Om Namo Narayanaya
Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
Om Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram
Tat Twam Asi
Aham Brahma Asmi
A list from Transcendental Meditation:
If you scan the lists in detail (or do a google search of additional mantras), you'll find that most of the mantras seem to consist of "soft" syllables, consonants like n and l, free of the more "cutting" k-sounds and t-sounds. This could be the result of the brain's pre-wiring; for example, words like love and fun are calmer in their psychological effect than words like kill and hate. Mental recitation of a mantra offers the same emotional resonance as does the auditory pronunciation, regardless of the language. Sound, shape, and mood seem to interact in certain areas of the brain, blending into a constant fusion related to the phenomenon of synesthesia.
Here's an "optical" example: In the picture below, if asked which shape is called "bouba," and which is "kiki," 98% of people say the blob is "bouba" and the other is "kiki." The reason appears inherent in the shapes: the blob is softer and calmer than its "sharper" counterpart, kiki. Bouba is comprised of soft syllables, kiki consists of hard ones.
More information on the mental experience of certain sounds can be found in: A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness by V.S. Ramachandran.
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