The Power of Mantra Meditation
Mantra Meditation- When people read the word mantra, many things may come to mind. Whatever your experience is, there is real power in the repetition of a mantra as a form of meditation. That power has no other source than God, and you can trust in that power. The power of mantra repetition can quiet the mind, provide a refuge in trying times, and unlock great virtues within. It may even help you develop fearlessness.
What is Mantra Meditation?
Mantra is a word or phrase that you repeat to yourself again and again for a specific effect. We could replace the word mantra with ‘positive affirmation’ and it would have the same meaning. Although positive affirmations can be powerful, mantra repetition for spiritual purposes often entails repetition of God’s name. Many people use this as a form of waking meditation, since it’s easy to repeat a mantra to yourself either verbally or mentally throughout your day, and despite what’s going on around you.
How Mantra Meditation Works
The mantra you use is meant to represent the quality you wish to infuse into your consciousness. For example, many people say or think to themselves, “I am not very beautiful; nobody loves me.” And so, this is their mantra, which they repeat to themselves every day and wonder why their life is miserable. But if they changed their mantra to say, “I am beautiful; I love myself,” then perhaps they would notice a change. This is an example of an uplifting mantra, which can be used for the betterment of their life.
On the spiritual path, mantra repetition takes on a significant meaning. Through the repetition of God’s name, we come to know the meaning of that name. God in Her ultimate form is unknowable, but the mystics of various religious traditions knew that we had to have some way to describe God. So they came up with different names of God, to represent various aspects of God that could be described, and experienced. By connecting to a piece of God, you connect with the entirety of who He is. This experience leads you to a deeper understanding of yourself and God.
Examples of Mantra Meditation
Any phrase may be used for mantra meditation. Usually, a mantra is used for some specific effect, to either create a positive quality, or free yourself from a negative one. For example:
* I am present now
* I love myself
* I am free from anger
* I am free from sadness
* Love is my experience
These are just a few. If you wish to utilize a name of God for Mantra meditation, you may choose one from whatever religious tradition best fits your beliefs.
According to Hinduism, OM is the primordial sound from which all creation arose. Consequently, many people use the sound of OM as a focus for their meditation. The sound of OM has four distinct aspects to the creation of the sound.
- ah sound
- a long o sound
- mmmm sound
As you tone each of these, try to feel the place in your body where the sound is vibrating. This might be your chest, or your throat, or your third eye. My personal experience has been that each unique sound of OM vibrates in a different area of the body. If this is difficult at first, try plugging your ears when you make the sound of OM, and you’ll experience it inside yourself.
The Name of God as a Mantra
In the case of the Hebrew tradition, there are 72 names of God, each representing some aspect of God. In the Islamic tradition, there are 99 names of God, which again represent various aspects of God. Many people believe Hinduism has many gods, but again, each individual god in Hinduism represents some aspect of the ultimate reality which is beyond thought or conception.
Here are some examples of spiritual mantras:
- Om Namah Shivaya – sanskrit for: “I honor the God within.”
- Soham or Hamsa – sanskrit for: “I am That.”
- El Shaddai – A Hebrew name for God, translated as “God Almighty”
- Elohim – Another Hebrew name for God, translated as “to whom one has recourse in distress or when one is in need of guidance”
- Allah – The Islamic name for God
- Govinda – One of the Hindu names for God, which refers to God’s power as he pervades everything
There are many, many more. The idea to keep in mind is that each name represents a particular quality or aspect. By focusing on that aspect, you come to know it in a deeper way.
Mantra Repetition for Developing Virtues
There are so many great virtues: patience, compassion, kindness, humility, fearlessness. Whatever virtue you wish to embibe, use a mantra to invoke it’s power in your life. It may sound like this:
“I am filled with compassion for others,” or…
“I experience patience when working with others,”
Or, you might just repeat the word to yourself over and over: Kindness… kindness… kindness…
Whatever you’re developing, mantra gives you something tangible to hold on to when you find yourself in a trying situation or an unknown place. If you find yourself forgetting to be kind, repeating the word reminds you to be kind. If you want more humility, repeating a mantra reminds you to be humble throughout your day.
Developing Your Own Mantra
If none of the mantras above meet your needs, you may develop your own mantra. To do this, follow these guidelines:
1. Your mantra should be short and easy to remember
2. Your mantra should be positive. In the case of wanted to free yourself from something, avoid the word ‘not.’ Use ‘free from’ instead. For example, instead of saying, “I do not crave cigarettes,’ you might say, “I am smoke free.”
3. Choose words that have personal meaning to you. The more they evoke emotion, the better
4. Repeat it often, even if you don’t see any changes taking place.
The Secrets to Mantra Meditation
There are a few secrets to Mantra meditation. The first is repetition. Your mantra won’t work if you don’t repeat it. This may seem obvious, but so many people repeat a mantra 20 times, don’t notice a difference, and quit. This does no good. In order to experience the power of mantra, you have to repeat it at least 100,000 times to yourself, and believe it each time you say it. This leads to the second secret of mantra repetition, and that is belief…
Belief is the most important aspect of mantra meditation. You have to really believe what you’re saying, or have the feeling of belief in what you’re saying for it to really work. This gets really tricky when people see things happen that contradict their mantra. For instance, I’m repeating, “I am happy,” but I don’t really feel happy. Or I’m repeating, “I am smoke free,” and I go smoke a cigarette. In times like these, it’s important to practice letting go of our self-judgments. One mistake doesn’t subject you to a lifetime of misery. If you run into issues, let go of it. Whatever happened happened in the past. Now is a new moment, so continue repeating your mantra with the feeling, intention and belief that it is real for you now.
In the case of repeating God’s name, try to ‘feel’ the name of God and the aspect it represents. For example, I love the name Elohim, because I can really imagine and feel that aspect of God that I can rely upon when I’m in distress or when I need guidance. That’s very real and very tangible to me. So when I repeat the name Elohim, I feel the meaning of the name inside and God feels very present.
Mantra - a tangible method for imbibing divine qualities, changing habitual patterns and knowing God in a deeper way. As you develop your relationship with a mantra, you will experience how it naturally pulls you into meditation, quieting your mind and shutting off the constant chatter (and sometimes negativity) we all have a tendency to experience. It also provides a way for us to remember what’s important to us during trying moments in our life. If we can just remember our mantra when we’re in that moment of anger, sadness or fear…the experience of these emotions often dissipates, and their power over us is replace by a power of our choosing–like happiness, patience or compassion.
May you experience the power of mantra in your life. And until next time, may all be happy, may all be well.