Of all the meditation techniques available, mantra meditation is one of the more fascinating ones. Passed down through the depths of time and stemming from ancient civilization, mantra meditation is intriguing by nature.
The story that this technique has carried through history has made it very popular; even gaining some momentum among the average practitioner of the modern era.
Mantra as a form of meditation has had its fair share of history dating back to the Vedic time, meaning that this practice can be linked back over 3000 years. The Indians that were practicing Hinduism at that time are thought to be the forefathers of this technique.
Mantra meditation generally involves chanting of specific words or sounds that are thought to have both psychological and spiritual powers. This simplified definition is drawn from the meaning of the word itself, ‘Mantra’ which may be used to mean sound, vibration, syllable, word or even a sacred utterance.
Traditionally these sounds or vibrations were said to influence and even control gods and other spiritual beings. Mantras are not only limited to spoken word. Sounds and repetition of nature – rainfall; burning fire; flowing rivers; wind; leaves falling from a tree – can be considered mantras and are believed to harness a specific frequency of meaning.
To sufficiently benefit from a mantra meditation session, it is advisable to begin with 5 minutes of silent meditation in order lower the frequency of the mind into a more receptive state of awareness. You have to be well relaxed both physically and mentally. A clear mind will go a long way in mastering this technique. You will also have to choose a mantra that best suits your intention.
The following are a range of mantras in Sanskrit (the classical language of Hinduism and Buddhism) which are known to carry specific meaning and purpose.
1. Ohm – You have probably heard of this one as it is the most common of all the. Ohm – pronounced 'AUM' – is presumed to be the sound or vibrations that existed during the formation of the world. This is the reason why many believe it to be the root of all the other mantras.
Humming this mantra connects an individual to the natural environment and to the vibration of the universe itself.
2. AH -This particular mantra is more spiritual than it is psychological. It involves taking a deep breath and the chanting the sound ahh…for as long as you can hold your breath. This process is then repeated severally. The Ah mantra has been associated to the voice of God and certain spiritual words such as Amen.
3. Ram – This mantra has a very close relation to its former cousin ‘Ah’, in the sense that they both signify an aspect about a God. To be specific, this mantra strongly relates to the name of God. Chanting it is believed to invoke truthfulness and virtue.
4. Om Mani Padme Hum – As you may have noticed, this mantra is strangely longer than the rest. The secret behind its length lies in the embedded meaning of the mantra. The part ohm represents the impurity of the mind and our thought.
Mani is used to mean jewels while Padme means Lotus (wisdom). Hum represents the spirit of enlightenment. The phrase itself is translated as ‘the jewel is in the lotus'.
5. Soham – Called the natural mantra, Soham is the sound that you make when you breathe, according traditional Hindu meditation philosophy. Take a few moments to breathe deeply, listening to the sounds you make as air comes into and out of your body.
It sounds like two syllables “so” and “ham”! This is a great way to become aware of your breathing and practice focusing on it because Soham requires no chanting, just deep, conscious breathing.
Adopting the right routine is crucial if you are to benefit from mantra meditation.
The following tips can be very helpful in assisting you benefit fully from a mantra meditation session especially if you're doing it at home.
1. Choosing the mantra that best suits your intention. You can select one among the mantras listed above. The selected mantra should be one that brings you comfort and positive energy.
2. Pick the most conducive time. For a better experience you should pick an appropriate time when you are most relaxed and free from distraction.
3. Select a serene location. Since mantra meditation should be carried out in an ideal and poised environment, finding the right spot to be carrying out the exercise is important.
This spot should become your usual meditation area, which will help you develop a positive relationship and deeper level of comfort with your practice. Make this spot your release area; personalize it and make it your personal home.
4. Get as comfortable as possible. Mantra meditation is all about concentration and focus. Distractions and disturbances only serve as a limit to your session.
Get comfortable by slipping into loose clothes and take a couple of deep breaths before slowly repeating the mantra out loud, or silently to yourself, and with solid intention. The location and time are also factors to consider.
Consider the location and time that best suits your modern schedule, and stay consistent if you intend to develop this technique into a ritual. Even once or twice per week can become a great way to cultivate a deep relationship with this ancient practice.