Updated: Oct 3, 2020
Mantras originate from Hinduism and Buddhism and are a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation. By repeating a mantra you are training or retraining your mind and body to focus.
Meditating is a way of quietening your thoughts. It's not a case of not having thoughts but instead of being held captive by them you are watching pass through your mind and off somewhere else. Well that is my interpretation. Some people, myself included will tell you they think all the time. Others, not so much. But if you think about it everyone is thinking all the time. Sometimes those thoughts are interesting and productive, or they can become compulsive and intrusive. In times of stress it can help to find a way to take a break from the ever present thoughts. I am an overthinker, I'm always finding ways to analyse, rationalise and do my best to make sense of the world around me and I have been accused on more than one occasion of thinking too much. Sometimes thinking works really well for me and other times, well as you can imagine, not so well. By meditating my mind has found a freedom, a break, a pause, a stillness that is pretty profound.
So before you utter the words 'I can't meditate' change it to 'I haven't yet found a way of meditating which works for me.' And once you've read this blog you still may not but atleast you'll have tried some options.
Today we are going to work with a couple of different Mantras. Now I'm not trying to be lazy by not going into big details about each of them, exactly where they're from or what they do. What I am trying to do is not crowd you before you've tried them and instead take a moment to mouth them, sound them out. They are said exactly as they are written.
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Ah Hum
Most people will have heard or used Om which is why it as the last one. It resonates through the body and mind and is beautiful to use. The other two take it further.
I have started with Om Mani Padme Hum as you have to concentrate.
Ideally you will keep repeating the phrase over and over again until you are only conscious of the words, rhythm and sound.
Again, I will admit that I am not a natural Zen person. I fidget. I fiddle. There's always an itch that needs scratching. Do I need the toilet? When shall I have lunch? What shall I have for lunch? I feel a bit cold. I may get cold. Am I thirsty..... Ask me to sit still and I am on high alert for all the multitude of things that can distract me. So I use a Mala as part of my practice.
A Mala is a string of beads with 108 beads on it. A bit like an abacus you can move a bead slightly along its string. On each bead as it passes through your hands you repeat the mantra. Om Mani Padme Hum. A total of 108 times. And it takes about 10 minutes. For me because it takes about 10 minutes I can quiet all the distractive thoughts and concentrate. Because I am giving myself permission to fully concentrate I can relax into it. Because my hands are moving and I am repeating the words out loud (or in my head) both my body and my mind are busy with their own stuff and therefore not searching for thoughts to befuddle it.
I also have a specific place that I sit. I have my Mala. I have a few crystals. I am also training my mind that when I sit in this place I am giving myself permission to take time to enjoy the experience. This is my practice and I like it. And its called a practice as that is what I am doing. Practising. Sometimes its easy. Sometimes its not. But then learning to ride a bike, drive a car, write your name isn't easy, and it takes practise.
Another day I may use the words Om Ah Hum
Using the three sounds and words to connect the mind, voice and heart.
Find a quiet place and allow yourself time to play with the words, sounds and resonance.
If you can repeat them over and over again until you are aware only of the sounds, your breath and the calm. If you find it easier use a Mala. 108 repeats.
For me Om is used on a limited number basis. It may be only a few breaths of meditation as it fills the void quickly. I have also found with the mala that I use there is different stones on it and when I come to a specific stone I will instead of repeating either Om Mani Padme Hum or Om Ah Hum I will use Om as a break and it keeps my mind focusing on the feel of the stones.
You may be reading this blog and think but why do I need to do this? I've managed this amount of years without meditating why do I need to do it now?
Well you don't.
You can live a perfectly alright life without ever meditating. No one is going to force you to. But what are you actually afraid of? What's the worse thing that can happen. You get the giggles? Your bum goes numb? You become a hippy overnight?
Or you might (with practise) find a little bit of quiet. A small sense of calm. A moment of just sitting with yourself.
If these mantras don't feel right for you then I have also written a blog on affirmations. Which uses a more western approach to using words and phrases and may be something else for you to try.