You don't get to have "Your" Mantra!
Mark Shefsiek stashed this in The eternally happy Yogi
You have to understand that people from Hindi and Tibetan Buddhist cultures never want to offend anyone. They do not like to correct anyone. Me being an American Buddhist I don't really have that problem.
Mantra is Sanskrit and translates to "mind delivery". In Tibetan it is ngak and translates to "primordial sound."
Just by the simple explanation of the words you can see that we in spiritual practice are not talking about "calm" repeating in your head or on a bumper sticker.
Even more importantly a "mantra" is an prayer or invocation using sound to invoke specific deities for specific purposes. Some are newer and some are prehistoric, but either way they are passed by master to student since the beginning. For example the teaching on one mantra could be 400 pages and take weeks. The teaching is them practiced and mastered. It comes in three stages, instruction, transmission(permission to practice) and empowerment (using it for benefit of others). Traditionally it would be recited 100,000 in retreat.
This is very brief description but gets the point across.
These are sacred timeless prayers we call mantras. You do not get to create a mantra for yourself.
I appreciate what people are trying to do. If you get agitated say calm. We do use these affirmations as mental antidotes to discursive thought. However, these are not Mantra.
There is something in the cultural translation and habit that is not helpful. If you learn that a bowl is a plate you will have a difficult time with soup.
Beyond that is shows a basic lack of effort to understand the sacred religions of the regions. While there is no exact equivalent, people would not chant calm calm calm over a Rosary or make up their own Psalms. We say these mantras over our Mala (beads); my mala is the most important object I own. It is not jewelry or a fashion statement.
People can and will use words in whatever way they choose, but I think education and correction is good for the mind.
Ah Om Hung Ram Dza
Where can we find good mantras?
It depends on what you want or need? Do you want to be secular or religious? Do you want a connection to a teacher and deities?
It is complicated. Say you are a physician and want to practice medicine with a Buddhist view. You could learn Medicine Buddha practice. Or you are sick and want healing support.
You could search and might find
TADYATHA OM BEKANDZE BEKANDZE MAHABEKANDZE BEKANDZE RANDZA SAMUDGATE SOHA
That means nothing to me. I could study and get some understanding but then if I was still interested I would need to get direct instruction.
I received and practiced but it didn't resonate strongly with me so I let it go. SO OM BA WA DE NA RA SA YA NA YU DRANG DU TSI SO THA
Both are Medicine Buddha mantra
These are both complicated powerful healing mantras that can transform your life and benefit countless others but it takes effort to find a teacher and to practice. Then when you integrate many mantras into your life you know what to do. Mantras are mind medicine and you learn to diagnose and treat, a specific problem needs specific medicine. Like in the west there are OTC meds and surgery, you can only use what you know.
There are thousands of practices spanning 20,000 years and dozens of sects. It is amazing to think this is still available. If you learn one correctly will want to learn more.
I find it distressingly humorous that so many will adopt the idea of Mantra but sitting in a hospital room chanting a Mantra always brings a multitude of distressed stares.
Or you can sit in front of a mirror and say "I am a good person and gosh darn it people like me" :)