Mantras are a common method used to reach destinations during spiritual travel. Mantras are a somewhat advanced form of spiritual travel suited to those who are capable of traveling in a disembodied state (without bodily sensations or body image). Practicing mantras during spiritual travel has the effect of moving the soul through different inner spaces much like a surfer rides a wave. They provide a definite sense of continuous forward movement with the mantric vibration or current acting as the basis of propulsion.
One curious thing about travel by mantra is that though the mantra is being silently chanted by a single voice (the practitioner's inner voice), the mantric sounds often seem "larger" and more all pervading than sounds a single voice could normally produce. Instead, they sound as if they are being intoned by a chorus of voices. This creates the sense that the traveler is not riding the mantric wave or current alone. The wave therefore seems more like a bus than a single passenger car with many beings riding together through a common environment experiencing the same scenery.
Mantric spaces usually have no horizon and as such are more like moving through an underwater environment than moving through a normal atmosphere. The spaces have different textures, densities, and emotional qualities which create varying background sensations that permeate the space. These qualities naturally also determine the sensations of those traveling through the space.
The visual component may also vary but a complex visual field of changing patterns and colored lines (sometimes in 3-D) is one class of imagery that is familiar to me.
The author has experimented with different mantras but the one that seemed to work best was the one that had been practiced for many hours in normal meditation. Much positive emotional and spiritual energy had been poured into this sound during meditation, and the mantra seemed to function like a battery storing the spiritual energy. As a charged religious symbol, it therefore had the power to move me into and through radically altered states of consciousness when other less familiar mantras had much less effect when practiced while out of the body.
My intuitive sense is that those who are more familiar with disembodied states of light and energy use mantras the way we in the physical world use vehicles to take them to many destinations in the inner worlds. However, mantras are used to traverse dimensions in the psychic and spiritual worlds rather than streets and highways in the physical world. Many of these mantric roads are ancient pathways created by spiritual explorers eons ago.
Another function of mantras somewhat unrelated to spiritual travel is that mantras can link individuals with gurus, entities, and gods. The empowered mantra given to a disciple during a spiritual initiation when repeated can act much like dialing the number of a being in the inner worlds. The being may not always answer but the line is there, and communication can occur over the line once the link is established.
The question also arises as to what mantra to use in spiritual travel. In general, the mantra or prayer chosen needs to come from the spiritual tradition the practitioner follows. For those with a yogic orientation, using simple Sanskrit mantras (sometimes one syllable) is effective since they are sounds that are understood to originate in high spiritual planes, and will therefore draw the practitioner towards those points of origination. Names of deities or buddhas, or names of respected living or inner spiritual guides can also be used as mantras. This is especially true if the practitioners has an inner or outer relationship with one of these beings. Simple prayers such as the "prayer of the heart" from the Eastern Orthodox tradition, or phrases from Psalms or the Lord's Prayer can also be repeated, and they can function as mantras. Again these names or phrases will act as powerful symbols since they usually have very positive spiritual associations for a person practicing the religious tradition connected with these deities, guides, or prayers.
Once the person has even a little experience with riding these mantric waves, he or she is presented with a new way of being that is not easily forgotten. The method of using mantras to travel is an advanced form of spiritual travel since it requires considerable concentration. It is good to be able to experience this method of travel but the real challenge is to catch the wave, and then ride it long enough and with enough determination and skill to reach spiritual states of cosmic light and sound. This is the goal of the true spiritual traveler who by wisdom or by grace hopes to touch the infinite.
Travel by mantra is perhaps the best way to direct the soul toward specific destinations in the psychic and spiritual universes. The experience of travel by mantra also justifies using the term spiritual travel rather than more generic terms like meditation or contemplation. This is because the phrase spiritual travel is much more phenomenologically descriptive of the actual experience than these other two less specific terms.
As with all spiritual travel practices, it is important to emphasize that mantras should be used only for ethical purposes that further the practitioner's knowledge, or for helping and healing others.