Have a listen here to the mantra sung by my favourite kirtan artist, Deva Premal:
A closer review of each word (provided by the Jivamukti Schools of Yoga):
lokah: location, realm, all universes existing now
samastah: all beings sharing that same location
sukhino: centered in happiness and joy, free from suffering
bhav: the divine mood or state of unified existence
antu: may it be so
For me this prayer sets a particular mood, not just before my yoga classes, but as a kind of emotional barometer for life if I choose to remember it throughout the day. If I can anchor my thoughts and actions in this knowing that everything that I do or think has a ripple effect on those around me, and I can choose the quality of this ripple, then I am more likely to make decisions and take actions that have positive effects, which are peaceful and life-affirming. Sometimes, that action can be a simple smile, and sometimes the thought can be to just breath and drop whatever that grievance is that I'm holding on to just because I feel I have a right to it, and choose instead to calm rather than escalate a situation.
"May all beings, everywhere, be happy" also speaks to the inclusiveness of ALL sentient beings, without exception; our furry friends, our winged friends, our ocean friends etc. Yoga incorporates this level of awareness through its very first moral precept in what are called the "yamas" (restrictions) - the first yama being "Ahimsa" or to do no harm. This is why vegetarianism is the prescribed dietary practice for Yogis, it is one way of ensuring that no injury or violence is done to animals for our benefit.
And this prayer always conveys a blessing to the one saying it, whether you say it mentally or verbally. All beings everywhere includes YOU. Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma), the Hugging Saint as she is known worldwide, has incorporated this mantra into the daily prayers at her south Indian ashram where thousands attend. She is a person who has given her life to the service of humanity and she encourages her devotees to chant this mantra so that their prayers are offered not just for themselves, but for the whole of creation (which is, in essence, our own reflection).
The mantra often finishes with OM Shantih, Shantih, Shantih...Peace, Peace, Peace.
Love & sweet blessings,