Meditating Use Mantras
Have you tried to meditate but, on numerous occasions, give up because the constant chattering of the mind makes it impossible to find inner silence? The monkey mind, as it’s called, has to be trained, and when you’re starting out in your meditation practice it’s helpful to try using a method that focuses the mind on one thing – an anchor. There are many different methods to try and numerous different ways of meditating, or focusing the mind, so don’t be shy, get experimenting and find out what works for you (hint – everybody is wired a little differently so what works for one may not be so effective for another).
The first method I’d like to explore is the use a mantra to focus the mind. This is a form of yoga called Japa Yoga, or Mantra repetition, whereby the mantra is meditatively repeated either in the mind or out loud.
What is a mantra?
A Mantra is a sound or word form repeated to aid concentration in meditation. The word can be broken into two parts: “Man” meaning mind and “tra” meaning vehicle. In other words, a mantra is a powerful tool for the mind to help you enter a deep state of meditation.
A mantra comes from Sanskrit, an ancient sacred language from the Indian continent dating back, some say, to around 600BC.
The mantra has a meaning, and that meaning carries a certain energetic vibration which is absorbed into the body of the user, even when repeated silently.
Why use a mantra?
When repeating a mantra silently to yourself, you start to quieten the busy-ness of the mind. As we disconnect from thoughts we begin to enter into a more peaceful, spacious state of awareness
By repeating a mantra (even silently) we produce a mental vibration that helps you to access a deeper state of awareness.
During meditation sometimes my mind can get really distracted so unless the mantra is fairly long I find I’m simultaneously doing the shopping list as I silently repeat the mantra.
One of my favourite mantras to use is: OM DAKINI NAMAHA
This mantra stimulates the root chakra of your energy body, i.e. it helps you to feel grounded and stable, and helps takes you out of the head-space.
Characteristics of Mantra
According to Swami Rama, a Mantra has four bodies, sheaths, or koshas. First, as a word, it has a meaning; another more subtle form is its feeling; still more subtle is a deep intense and constant awareness or presence, and the fourth or most subtle level of the mantra is soundless sound. Many students continue repeating or muttering their mantra throughout life, but they never attain a state of ajapa japa—that state of constant awareness without any effort. Such a student strengthens his awareness, but meditates on the gross level only.
Before you start, the key to a ‘successful’ meditation is comfort. Make sure you’re in a seated position that you can settle into for the duration of your meditation. For beginners try just 3-5 minutes. You don’t need to be on the floor if that’s not comfy for you. Choose a chair instead where you can sit with the knees over the ankles and the spine in an upright position (not leaning on the back of the chair). The hands can rest on the knees palms facing up or down, or simply in your lap. Alternatively you can use a mudra or seal to create an energetic circuitry.
Now, take a long slow inhalation and as you exhale allow your body and mind to relax keeping the spine and neck upright, allow the eyes to close or have a soft unfocused gaze and invite a feeling of ease into the body. Next start the silent repetition of the mantra. If you find you get lost in thought, simply return your full attention to repeating the mantra. It’s helpful to set a timer for your meditation so that you have one less things to think about!
Try not to get frustrated if you find the mind is jumping around. Don’t try and stop it as this will create tension. Just let it happen but try not to get involved in the content of the thoughts. Allow them to happen in the background of your awareness and keep gently returning to the mantra each time you get drawn away. Many of us are compulsive thinkers with a lifetime of practice, so try not to judge your experience as good or bad if you find it hard to focus, just keep practicing and gradually you’ll find that it gets easier to keep your focus steady and remember that every day, every meditation is different. Be kind to yourself and dont give up : )
There are many different mantras to try. I find it can be helpful to begin a meditation or yoga session with the Ganesha Mantra. Ganesha, also known as Ganapati or Vinyaka, is the elephant God who is considered to the remover of obstacles and the God of beginnings. One of the most well-known mantras associated with Ganesha is: Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha. This is a salutation to Ganesha.
A beautiful mantra which is often used at the closing of a yoga session or meditation is: Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu: May the entire Universe be filled with Peace and Joy, Love and Light.