Mantra MeditationWhy use mantras?
Have you ever heard a bang somewhere out of your sight, and jumped from it? That is your body’s chemistry changing and reacting due to an external sound. Sounds DO have an affect on your chemistry.
One goal of internal energy arts, such as yoga and qigong is to cause change to the practitioner’s temple, known as the body. This is known as inner alchemy and can be achieved through many means, such as body control, breathing control, cultivating internal energies and through meditation.
However, mantras are not just used to affect your inner temple due to those effects. The main reason, above others is to attain control of your mind. Why have control of your mind? Because the mind can control the body, that is your temple, you should hold the keys to it. The mind is seen as what attaches you to various things, and is the cause of all suffering…but, it is also the saviour of suffering for you as well! Simply put, an uncontrolled mind leads to suffering, a controlled one leads to freedom from this.How do mantras work?
Mantras help the process of internal alchemy considerably when put to the correct usage. They and you can be related to tuning forks. If you were to take one tuning fork and vibrate it at a certain rate, place it on a table and then place one that is not vibrating close to it, they will both eventually vibrate at the same rate. This is how mantras work, they slowly tune you into a frequency and you will take on the effects of that mantra.
There are a few ways that mantras can operate. One way is the above, the sound of the mantra directly affects your chemistry. Another way is that when pronouncing them, you press certain nerves on your upper palette with your tongue, this causes reactions. The other view, is that the mantras, usually Sanskrit mantras (the “holy language of the east”) draw on certain power from a sphere of energy that has developed, often these are from a specific deity, such as a Buddha or Hindu gods.
Concerning meditation, mantras act as a focal tool, you can use anything as a focal tool, but the advantage of a mantra is that it is internal, you do not need to carry around anything and can use it at anytime. It also draws on the affects of it’s vibrations to change the chemistry more directly. Meditating Using a Mantra
First you have to choose an ideal mantra, it doesn’t have to be Sanskrit. A list of some common mantras is at the bottom of the article.*
The first step in any meditation is to get yourself into a position with the smallest amount of distractions possible and to create a comfortable space.
We work from out to in. Find an ideal place to meditate, you can meditate anywhere, obviously though, some places are more ideal than others. Your room is where most choose. Try and remove all distractions where possible, turn off the TV and radio, close your door, remove clutter lying around, dim the lights etc. An extra thing you might like to take advantage of is the use of incense, it can be helpful for some to burn a certain incense when they meditate, the mind then associates the incense with meditation and will immediately begin to calm itself down. For some though, it can be a distraction, we want to remove external senses and dive inwards into ourselves.
Once that is done, you have to find a suitable position. This is harder than it sounds, anyone who has tried sitting still for even a small length of time can testify to how difficult it is to do. That is one reason why asanas were developed, however, to get one to be comfortable by itself, without any strain can take a long time to do well. It is said that when you can sit in an asana for three hours, without any tensing of muscles or movement, you have “mastered” that asana. Unfortunately, most people can’t manage sitting for that long. For our method, we will just focus on basic cross legged sitting. The importance is that your back is straight, your torso should be slightly pushed back and your head straight and in line with you spine. If you feel you won’t be able to sit down comfortably like that for long, you can use a wall for back support. You can focus on training in asanas later, the important thing now is to go inwards.
Another concern for some is how they should place their hands. These positions are known as mudras and are locks that circulate the bodies energies in certain ways. We can simple place them on your lap or if you want to use a mudra, there are two I myself have found to be effective for meditation. The first is done by placing your index fingers together with the thumb tips of each hand. This is the well known gnani or OM mudra. The second mudra is done by relaxing your left hand, palm up near your dan-tien area, and then placing your right hand, palm up on top. Your thumb tips should touch. This is the mudra that Shakyamuni Buddha used and is said to speed up the enlightenment process.
Now that distractions are all dealt with, we can finally move onto actually meditating!
Sit down in your chosen position, and begin by telling yourself these phrases, each 3 times. “My body is not my self, I withdraw my attention from my body”, “my emotions are not me” and “My self is higher than these thoughts, I will control my thoughts.”
Try to relax into the position as much as possible, a common method is seeing and feeling a golden ball of light flowing down your body, relaxing everything that it touches. Once you are relaxed, just observe your thoughts for a while, then gradually introduce the mantra you have chosen.
Chanting a mantra is known as japa
, and there are three methods of doing this.
is chanting the mantra out loud, this is useful for beginners and helps block out external distractions.
is whispering the mantra to yourself.
is chanting the mantra in your mind only. It is the hardest form and it is easier for your mind to wander, but it is also the best. Since it is done only inside, you can use this form of meditation anywhere, anytime, it also pulls your attention into yourself, deepening your meditation experiences.
Your attention will wander away from the mantra, when this happens, just draw it back to it gradually, you cannot force meditation. Continue this method of losing the mantra and drawing you attention back to it for at least 10 minutes. It is ok if you feel the need to move during this meditation, just move slowly, and keep focusing on the mantra. Some like to chant the mantra in time with the breath, and find it to help. Gradually work up to at least 30 mins of meditation at one sitting.
To end your meditation, stop focusing on the mantra, and just enjoy the silence that is now in your mind. Gradually let thoughts enter and then slowly get up and move about. Pointers
-It is ideal that you should meditate twice daily, rather than once, and it is better to have two 10 minute sittings, than one 20 minute sitting. This allows the mindset created by meditation to carry the effects on into daily life better.
-The ideal times for meditation are early morning before sunrise (4-6am), late afternoon and evening before bed (10-12pm) You should sit facing east or north.
-You should chant the mantra at an average pace, only speeding it up when the mind becomes unfocused, then slowing back down. The mantra should be constantly repeated, with no breaks.
-Before sitting down to meditate, you should choose a time that you will meditate for, do not start with a large amount of time, perhaps just 10 minutes, perhaps more. But you should declare to yourself, that you will not get up, until that time is passed. An oath of sorts, and under no circumstances must you get up once you state that. To help this place a watch/clock in front of you, where you can see the time. If you truly feel the need to, open your eyes and look at how long it has been. By not getting up until the set time is up, you will strengthen your will power, and your mind will learn that there is no use it being disobedient, and will more easily settle down.
-An important point, is that you should choose one mantra and meditate on ONLY it for 40 days, or more. The reason for this is that the changes are not sudden, but more gradual. "The man who chases two hares doesn't catch one." Eventually, you may notice that the mantra will be chanting in the back of your mind, or you will suddenly feel like chanting it. This is a good sign, it means the mantra is being embeded in your psyche and taking effect.Effects of meditation
During meditation, if doing it deeply enough, you will feel vibrations, tingling and buzzing experiences over your body, as well as a feeling of detatchment, in particular your body may not even be noticeable, or feel very light. Afterwards, you can notice the calmness in your mind, and everything will seem to have a certain “glow” to it. It will give you a inner sense of peace, and strength, what would at one time make you jump no longer will. Due to this new state of mind, you will no longer get as caught up in your own affairs and be able to solve problems much easier, where as before your emotions will have clouded your judgement. The effects of the particular mantra may also be felt.*List of common mantrasOm
- Consisting of the three letters A, U, M it signifies the three periods of time and three states of being. The creator had a thought, which eventually manifested itself as Om, this is the closest sound to that which the creator chanted.Om mani padme hum
- This is the mantra of Chenrezig, buddha of compassion. The effects and meaning of this mantra are to much to write about here. By reciting it, all one's negative karmas are burnt away, they become compassionate and enjoyable to be around, they become "Chenrezig incarnate." It is said if one recites 10 malas(1 mala=108 repetitions) daily and then touch something it becomes blessed. So if one touches another person, it removes some of their past negative karmas as well. Thus it is a truly blessful mantra.Om nama sivaya
- This is the mantra of Lord Shiva. Siva destroys the lower self and builds the higher self. Lord Shiva gives his blessings to the devotee very quickly. A common effect noticed is a gaining of wealth, not just physical, but spiritual.Om namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
- This is the mantra of Lord Vishnu. It gives the devotee prosperity, wealth and peace.Om shanti, shanti, shanti
- Meaning "all peace, peace, peace" the effects of this mantra are deep peace.Hari Om
- Meaning to remove fear/uncover blissHong Sau
- Meaning "holy breath" (chant Hong on inhale, Sau on exhale)Sat nam
- The sound the breath makes.So ham
- I am that I amI amLight, love, love, light
- Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhaleOne is all, all is one
- Inahle, exhaleAmen
These are just some of the mantras I have used to good effect. There are many more and it would be good if you were to go and find ones that appeal specifically to you.
*~*Let there be light, where there was none*~*