So you want to get into meditation but you’ve heard that you will also need a “Mantra” to really sink below the surface noise of your everyday life. And what even is this thing called a “mantra”, and also, where do I get one?
A mantra is simply a word or phrase you will repeat to yourself during the meditative process in order to allow your mind to enter a state of calmness. A mantra is merely an object upon which you can focus, a device to keep the chatter of your conscious brain from intruding upon your meditation.
Meditation, as we will discuss in greater detail later in this article, is a fantastic cerebral contrivance that will allow you to extract a great amount of peace and harmony amidst the sea of chaos and disquiet that modern life seems to serve up to everyone on a daily basis.
Why should I meditate?
Meditation is not compulsory. You can go through your entire life without once trying to descend into a meditative state and, if you feel that your entire being is at one and in complete harmony with the universe, you can just go about your daily life like the amazing Tibetan Monk that you undoubtedly are. But, if you are, like the rest of humanity, constantly in a state of stress and anxiety then it may just be wise for you to look into the ancient Eastern art of meditation.
There are many health benefits to Mantra Meditation.
- It reduces your stress levels. Stress is a killer. Literally. It is one of the most insidious and least understood forms of disease. Sometimes we are not even aware that we are stressed, and it manifests in so many different ways – from stiff neck muscles, ground down teeth, high blood pressure, to having the skin peel off your hands and fingers – that we find it difficult to rationalize that we are, in fact, stressed out.
- Promotes self-awareness. As you delve more deeply into your mind meditation will aid you in developing an understanding of who you are and what your place is in this world and how you relate to the people around you.
- Improves memory. Or, at the very least, will help retain what memory skills you already have without being overly concerned with age-related memory loss.
- Helps you to sleep better. Nearly everyone will suffer from sleep problems or even insomnia at some point in their lives. An Oxford Academic study found that people who meditated slept for a longer period and were less prone to severe insomnia than those people in the control group who did not. Quality sleep is something we all strive for. We all have our own sleep requirements. Some of us can make do with five or six hours a night, while some people need the eight hours recommended by most medical practitioners. Sleep for fewer hours than you need though will have you operating at a sub-optimal level. Chronic insomnia, on the other hand, can ruin your life.
- Helps reduce hypertension. Meditation can reduce high blood pressure by reducing strain on your heart muscles. It will slow and deepen your breathing and activate your parasympathetic nervous system which when the body relaxes, slows the heart rate, and lowers blood pressure.
There are many other benefits to meditating, including just having some alone time where you disengage from the world and allow your mind to drift. Many of the best ideas and inventions have emerged from the clear mind that meditation induces. That reason alone should be sufficient to convince you of the benefits of calm meditation.
How do I meditate?
Ok, so all that sounds pretty enticing but how do I go about this? Where do I start and what should I do?
- Find your own Mantra. As we’ve seen, chanting a mantra, whether out loud or silently to yourself will help you attain that level of calmness that you seek. We will discuss how to find your own mantra a little further down in this article.
- Find somewhere comfortable. And, in fact, find somewhere quiet while you’re at it. You really do not want any noisy distractions which will constantly bring your consciousness to the surface. This is why it is recommended that you do your meditating in the early hours of the morning before the world and his dog is awake.
Look for a place that is somewhat darker than the rest of your home to avoid overstimulation from lights. Meditating in front of the TV will not help.
- Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Whether you are seated on the floor or in a comfortable chair, try to sit up straight so that your spine is straight. If you’re seated on the floor, placing a cushion beneath you and leaning up against a wall will help achieve the correct position.
- Focus on your breathing. Do not try to control your breathing but give some thought to it. Focus on every inhalation and exhalation but do not try to alter the tempo. This will help you to achieve greater repose and relaxation and place you in a meditative state.
- Start to chant your mantra. At this point in your meditation, you should start to introduce your mantra. As mentioned, your mantra can be a word, or a phrase, or even a sound. The AUM (or OM) sound, for example, is one of the most elemental of sounds and means precisely nothing. It creates a wonderful resonation within your body when produced and instills a sense of calm in your mind. This makes it a great mantra for many people. Try it yourself while you are reading this article. Feel the vibrations it produces deep within your chest.
As mentioned earlier we will discuss how to find your own mantra a little later in this article.
- To mantra or not to mantra. If you feel that you have achieved the meditative state that you are happy with, you may, at this point, decide to carry on with chanting your mantra – or not. The great thing about meditation is that you are in control. You are alone with yourself in your mind and you are in charge. You should do what feels good for you. There are no hard and fast rules. Just guidelines.
- Meditate until you want to stop. As mentioned in the point above, there are no definite rules for meditation but there is some guidance.
When you feel like you are done with chanting your mantra, it is advisable to transition to a more silent meditation. Stay in your seated position and tune in to the sensations that will arise in your mind and body. Sit in this way for as long as you feel you want to. This will allow you to focus on your good intentions and aid in achieving even greater relaxation.
Let your thoughts come into your mind and disappear when they want to. Do not try to control them. They will arrange themselves in their own special order and will teach you to let go of those things in your life that you cannot control.
If you feel you are slipping out of your meditative state, try repeating your mantra until you feel yourself drifting back to that level of calm relaxation where you wish to be.
Just remember that meditation, like so many worthwhile things in life, takes practice and perseverance. The more you do it the better you will get at doing it.
What is a Mantra?.
There are so many definitions of “mantra” that one can only conclude that a mantra is almost whatever it is that you decide you want it to be. The one proviso is that it should resemble a sound that you can verbalize or one that you can intellectualize. In other words, something you can say, or something you can think.
None other than the venerable Oxford Dictionary defines mantra in their usual unembellished manner as “a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation”.
The Cambridge Dictionary prevaricates with two definitions.The first refers to “a word or sound that is believed to have a special spiritual power, with reference to Hinduism and Buddhism”. Their second definition: “a word or phrase that is often repeated and expresses a particularly strong belief” is, while an intellectual cop-out, probably closer to current thought on the matter.
Where to find your very own Mantra.
Your mantra can be anything you wish it to be. You can use the Star-Spangled Banner if you so wish. You can choose a particularly positive quote from someone you respect. You can choose the AUM sound. You can say the name of your wife over and over if this helps you achieve a state of calm meditation (although your wife might be a little concerned with your mental health at that point).
You may want to opt for a more traditional mantra. The following are a few examples of powerful mantras that you can chant.
- OM or AUM is the most basic mantra you can chant. Repeating this mantra will create powerful vibrations in your shoulders, chest, and abdomen.You can repeat AUM as many times as you wish during your meditation. This is probably the oldest mantra and is used by many people around the world, possibly creating its own sub-sonic resonance as a result.
- The Hare Krishna mantra can help you achieve great calm and peace of mind. Repeat this mantra as many times as you like. You will have heard this one before, I’m sure; Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
- Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu is the mantra of compassion and means “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”
- Om Namah Shivaya is a mantra that reminds every person that they have their very own place in this world. It means “I bow to Shiva, the supreme deity of transformation who represents the truest, highest self.”
These are all traditional mantras but, as we mentioned, you can choose any mantra you wish. Many people find affirmative words or phrases go a long way in allowing them to achieve a blissful meditative state. They also have the advantage of ensuring you re-enter the world after your meditation with power and positivity.
Mantras like “I am happy”, This is a wonderful world”, “I am content” can have a wonderfully self-fulfilling effect.
What happens when I chant my mantra?
One of the goals of chanting mantras is to feel their subtle vibrations. These vibrations can help you effect positive changes in your life and aid in entering a deep state of blissful meditation.
The resonance factor of a mantra is very important. Sounds and vibrations resonate deep within our souls as human beings. The earliest humans learned that communicating using rhythmical sounds ensured that the intention of their message would be well received – whether by means of a crooning mother to her baby or through the beating of drums (or trees) to facilitate the understanding of either a warlike intention or of bonding within the clan.
As humans, we are able to create a variety of different frequencies of sounds, and these sounds form their own patterns within our bodies. This short clip will give you a greater understanding of the effect of resonance:
The repetition of mantras and the subsequent resonation within your body can help you disconnect from any unwelcome extraneous thoughts that may arise during meditation and help keep you focused and in a calm and tranquil state of mind.
Meditation and mantra are inextricably linked. One cannot achieve a deep meditative state without a mantra and mantra is not nearly as effective without the process of meditation.
With practice, meditation is easy to achieve. Follow the guidelines we have spoken about in this article, try to wake up earlier to ensure that your meditation is undisturbed, choose the mantra that works for you and you will be a person more at ease with his or her world.