Origin and Meaning:
A mantra is a combination of characters without any particular meanings. It is used for the sole purpose of sharpening and focusing the mind on vibrations and sounds of the mantra. It is not an affirmation used to convince yourself something. Some experts believe the choice of words and correct pronunciations are critical to this practice, for purposes of achieving ideal vibrations. Other experts dismiss this notion and believe that a mantra is only a tool for focusing the mind, the word itself is irrelevant.
Mantras are used by variety of groups/practices including Hindu traditions, Buddhist traditions (mostly Tibetian and “Pure Land” Buddhism), Jainism, Sikhism and Daoism (Taoism). Some people prefer to call mantra meditation as “om meditation”, this is just one of many mantras that can be utilized. A more devotion oriented practice of mantras is called Japa, this consists of repeating sacred words (such as the names of gods) with love and kindness.
How To Do It:
“As you repeat the mantra, it creates a mental vibration that allows the mind to experience deeper levels of awareness. As you meditate, the mantra becomes increasingly abstract and indistinct, until you’re finally led into the field of pure consciousness from which the vibration arose.Repetition of the mantra helps you disconnect from the thoughts filling your mind so that perhaps you may slip into the gap between thoughts. The mantra is a tool to support your meditation practice. Mantras can be viewed as ancient power words with subtle intentions that help us connect to spirit, the source of everything in the universe.” (Deepak Chopra)
As with most types of meditation, this practice is also done with an erect spine and eyes closed. The practitioner repeats the mantra in ones mind, over and over for the entirety of the session. The mantra is sometimes coupled with breath awareness by certain practices.
Some well know mantras from the Hindu tradition include:
There is no objective amount of time that one should count the mantra for but traditionally it is counted to 108 or 1008. A necklace of beads are used to keep count of the mantra. As one delves deeper into the mantra, the mantra continues by itself, like the humming of the mind. The mantra many even disappear and leave you in a state of deep inner peace.
Is It For Me? :
People often find it easier to focus on a mantra, rather than breathing. It is useful when the mind is racing with thoughts and emotions. The steadfast repetition of the mantra keep all mental sensations at bay.
Meditation with a mantra can also be simple to integrate into meditative states in your daily life. It is as simple as repeating the mantra over and over again.