………What are Mantras exactly ?……..
Well, actually all they are is – a certain sound – that can affect us in a special way.
First – imagine the sound of chalk scraping across a blackboard !
Second – imagine the sound of a cat purring !
Third – imagine the sound of a gunshot !
You see how each one affected you differently mentally ?
If you do it again with your eyes closed, you will probably find that each sound affects you in a physical way as well.
… One making you tense up, the next making you feel more relaxed, and the third one tensing you up again, but perhaps in a different way.
We have just seen how sounds can have an effect on us.
… This idea is by no means new.
The ancient thinkers of the Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish and Yoga disciplines all studied the effects of various sounds upon us, some more than two thousand years ago !
They found that certain short sounds affect us in a much more relaxing way than others.
… (although they are sometimes associated with particular deities or leaders of the different traditional meditation schools).
But all have in common that their calming effects on the mind are much more powerful than other sounds.
These special sounds were given the name Mantras…this is made up of two ancient Sanskrit words, Man meaning either ‘mind’ or else ‘to think’, and Tra meaning ‘tool.’
So Mantra in effect means Mind Tool, and that is exactly what they are, tools to help the mind.
There are literally hundreds of these Mantras, all varying in complexity depending on –
… what purpose they are used for,
… and how various religious or philosophical organizations utilize and teach them.
We are going to confine ourselves to a simplified sub-set of these Mantras, that are for the most part one syllable only,
… and were the Original Root Mantras, on which all the others are based.
They are called the Bija Mantras, Bija being an old Sanskrit word meaning Root or Origin.
(An Indian Hindu Guru – Mahareshi Mahesh Yogi, had started the system known as TM, or Transcendental Meditation – which uses two or more of these Bija Mantras in combination.
… however one has to pay quite a hefty sum – to learn which mantra he feels is appropriate for your age and sex.)
There are many of these Bija mantras, but for simplicity’s sake we are only going to consider one of them at this time –
… the one which is the most common and yet probably the most effective.
We will be using the Mantra AUM, which is the first and very original Bija Mantra, it is pronounced like – “aaaoouuumm” – (quite drawn out).
It is shown in the original Sanskrit writing on the left.
Many people have it on their T-shirts or as tattoos,
… but they do not know how to use it properly as a Mantra.
So here is the way to do it –
But before you actually start to meditate, it is essential that you read this next section –
… right the way to the end of the page –
… and at least a couple of times –
… so that you are quite clear about it before starting.
Let’s talk about a room to meditate in – or Meditation Room – (where we are going to meditate is important).
It should ideally be somewhere quiet, that is a comfortable temperature, and where you can be undisturbed for up to 20 minutes,
… ( it is a good idea to have a little sign that you can put on the door, saying something like ‘Meditating – please don’t disturb’ ),
… and it is best if you use the same place each time.
In this room there must be somewhere where you can sit in comfort for up to 20 minutes –
… it could be on a chair, a bed, a Seiza bench, a pillow on the floor or whatever.
The important thing is that you will be comfortably sitting up straight, ideally with your back supported.
You should not be slumped, or lying down.
It is also a good idea if you can make the room a bit dimmer – if there is sunlight shining directly into the room, use a curtain or blind or something similar.
You should be wearing loose comfortable clothing, and make sure that it is warm enough, as you will tend to cool down a bit as you are meditating.
If you decide to continue with this form of meditation – using a Mantra – you will need to set time aside, (up to twenty minutes twice a day), for your meditating.
… (Although we will only be doing it for ten minutes now, and if you continue – then twice a day).
I can hear you saying that you are too busy to ‘give up’ 20 minutes twice a day –
… but what you will find quite rapidly is that you
… and so the 20 minutes twice daily will be time very well spent – and will not be missed.
The best plan is to use the same times each day, this has many advantages –
… it will tend to ensure that you are being regular in your meditations –
… it will get the rest of the family quickly used to the idea that these are your ‘meditation times’ –
… and your subconscious mind also quickly understands that these are your ‘meditation times’, and will put you into a meditative state much more rapidly.
Make sure that you have a watch or clock with you while meditating – to keep track of the time.
However do not use an alarm clock or kitchen timer to keep track, the sudden shock of the bell or buzzer is very stressful, similarly, make sure that any phone in the room is unplugged for that time.
Be very clear that when you are meditating you are Not in any form of decreased awareness,
… in fact quite the opposite, you are even More aware of what is going on around you,
… and so can respond very efficiently to any emergency or problem, if necessary.
If you miss a meditation time for some unforeseen reason beyond your control, Do Not double up on meditation times the next day ‘to make up’ – just continue with your twice daily sessions as before.
What are the actual Meditation Instructions ?
Now that you have done all your planning and preparation, it is time to look at the ‘nuts and bolts’ of how to start meditating.
But once again, first read through all of these instructions carefully a couple of times, right to the end of this page.
This is important so that you know EXACTLY how to proceed.
What you will be doing is as follows –
1. Sit comfortably in your chosen place, and make sure that you are comfortable, and can stay in the same position for eventually up to 20 minutes,
… uncross your legs, put your arms and hands wherever seems easiest for you,
… ( most people put their hands in their laps), and make sure that you are warm enough.
Look at the watch or clock, make a mental note of when you start the 10 minutes,
… and then put the watch or clock near to you so that you can easily pick it up again.
2. Gently close your eyes, and try to relax as much as you can.
3. Very quietly but out loud, start to repeat the AUM sound over and over.
… How quickly or how often is not very important, as after a while the mantra will sort of ‘pick up a rhythm’ of its own.
4. Continue repeating the mantra out loud, and then slowly say it more and more quietly until you are only repeating it on a mental level.
5. As you become aware that other thoughts are coming into your mind, gently ease them aside and bring your mind back to repeating the mantra.
This will happen again and again and again – this is our ‘barrel load of monkeys‘ talking.
No problem at all, in fact quite normal…so don’t be concerned.
Each time when you become aware that you are thinking of something else, just bring the mantra back into focus again.
Continue like this for 10 minutes total.
6. When you estimate that ten minutes have probably passed,
… bring the clock or watch up close to your eyes, and open your eyes just the very smallest tiniest bit until you are just able to make out the time.
If the 10 minutes have not yet passed, then close your eyes again and continue as before until another time-check tells you that you have completed 10 minutes total.
7. Once you have completed 10 minutes, gently stop mentally repeating the mantra,
… take three or four deep slow breaths while bringing your awareness back to the present,
… and then very, very, very slowly, begin to open your eyes.
It will seem to be very bright at first, and if it feels uncomfortable, then close your eyes again and open them even more slowly.
Finally have a big stretch and enjoy the relaxed feelings that you have !
That is the whole process in a nutshell !
Can you give me any more useful details ?
O.K. – let’s talk about a few other ideas that may help you:-
Many people get concerned about how regularly their meditation gets interrupted by distracting thoughts.
It is very important to realize that this is entirely normal – there will always be other thoughts that creep in.
This is not ‘bad’ or ‘good’ – it just happens – and is part of the meditation practice, and is the way that our minds work.
However, it is true that slowly, over time, they will become somewhat less, and will also become not as distracting for you.
I would like to share a small technique that I use – that I find is helpful in this regard.
What I often do, whilst meditating, is imagine that I am looking at a stage – like a stage in a darkened theater.
Then I put the Mantra at center stage – like a sound suspended in the space.
Thoughts then come in like extras in the ‘stage production’ – and as I become aware of them I gently make them leave the stage to the left or the right –
… so that there is only the mantra on stage again.
Give it a try sometime, maybe it will work well for you also.
A few other points should include the following:-
Sometimes people, especially beginner meditators, will get aching feelings in their legs as they meditate, as we mentioned before.
This is usually because the cushion that they are sitting on is too hard – find a much softer one !
Sometimes meditators report a few seconds of feeling ‘spaced out’ while they are meditating.
This is entirely normal and should not disturb you.
If you think about it, it often happens in everyday life, especially if we are performing repetitive routine tasks.
Most of us have experienced this when we are driving for long periods of time on a freeway –
… sometimes we will suddenly ‘come to‘ and realize that we have traveled the last five miles or whatever, without really being aware of it at all, and being ‘spaced out’ instead !
Sometimes meditators will get tingling feelings – that can occur anywhere on their body or limbs – or even a headache or other minor fleeting pains.
Once again, this is common and normal, and will usually go away quite rapidly by itself, do not be concerned.
On the other hand, if you are experiencing Severe pains,
… or severe feelings of disorientation or depression,
… or any other similar severe and unpleasant symptoms, during or soon after meditating;
… then that usually means that you are progressing too quickly for your system to get accustomed to it.
What you need to do is – cut back your meditation time by 5 minutes for each session – which should resolve the problem.
Continue with this reduced time for a period of one week, and then go back to the original length of time that you were taking before.
It is important to remember that although meditation using this method seems very simple, it is in fact very powerful, and must be approached with respect and gentleness to yourself.
Do not approach it like a ‘bull in a china shop !’
How long should my meditation sessions be, and how often ?
As mentioned earlier, you should start off with 10 minutes twice daily, seven days a week.
It is VERY important not to exceed this length or frequency.
More is NOT better in this case, in fact it can be harmful.
… Your entire system, mental and physical, needs time to slowly and gradually assimilate and get used to the changes it will be experiencing.
After you have been meditating for a one week period –
… if you feel comfortable with the meditating –
… you should now increase to 15 minutes twice daily.
However if you do not feel comfortable, then continue for one more week before increasing the time period.
One week later still, if all is going well – then increase to 20 minutes twice daily.
This is the final length of time and number of meditation sessions daily, that you should continue with from then on.
DO NOT be tempted to either increase the length of time, or the number of times daily that you meditate.
This is VERY Important.
Also very important are the different lengths of time of meditating for children under the age of 12 years.
Basically they should meditate for only HALF the adult times,
… (in other words, children under age 12 should start off with only 5 minutes twice daily,
… then up to 7 and a half minutes twice daily after one week,
… then up to a final 10 minutes twice daily after a further week.)
From the age of 12 they can add weekly increases of 5 minutes to each meditation, until they are up to the 20 minutes twice daily – the same as the adults.
The ONLY time that you can increase the time span or frequency is if you are doing a special program under the direct supervision and instruction of an experienced meditation teacher, but NOT otherwise, under ANY circumstances.
After you have been meditating for about three months, your subconscious mind will very powerfully associate your personal mantra with you being in a relaxed yet alert state, like you experience with meditation.
You can use this to your huge advantage in any sudden stressful situation that occurs on a day-to-day basis –
… simply repeat your mantra to yourself mentally, usually only 5 to 10 times is necessary, (but do not close your eyes !)
… and you will automatically become more relaxed and better able to deal with whatever crisis has happened.
So now you have all the tools to make Mantra Meditation a part of your life if you choose –
… (or you may prefer one of the other forms of meditation that I talk about !)
Mantra Meditation is the form that I personally use most, and like best – but see what you personally think by the time you have tried all of the different forms that I give in this Website.
If you would like more information about the Bija Mantras, and ways to use them that are more on an individual level –
then to guide you in your learning I have an E-Book about the Bija Mantras, that I am offering at an excellent price – Click on my E-Book page to find out more details
There is also a form of Christian Mantra that probably you will find very interesting as a type of Christian meditation.
It was taught by a Christian monk, Fr John Main.
Who, in consultation with an Indian Guru and expert in Mantra meditation called Swami Satyananda, created a new and totally Christian mantra.
It is in Aramaic, which was the language that the Bible was originally written in,
… and almost certainly was also the language spoken by Jesus.
The word used is MARANATHA, which is Aramaic for “Come Lord.”
It is taken from the Bible (from 1 Corinthians 16:22 and also Revelations 22:20), so can truly be said to be a real Bible Meditation.
It is used in exactly the same way as with the Aum meditation above, and should be used following precisely thesame instructions.
Devout Christians may well be more comfortable in using this Christian Meditation Mantra instead of the Indian mantras.
So now you have all the tools that you need to start meditating using a Mantra –
… But The Most Essential Thing To Remember –
.. as I have tried to emphasize.
… Is To Start Gradually and Go Slow.
Do not expect your whole life to suddenly change overnight !
… It takes time and practice.
… But you should be able to notice definite positive change within two weeks.
So if you wish you can start today !
The next section will deal with Mandalas and Tankas and Yantras and Labyrinths – another totally different and fascinating way to meditate as you will see.
Click to go to Yoga and meditation – Active meditation 1
Click to go to Martial Arts and meditation – Active meditation 2
Click to go to Dance and meditation – Active meditation 3
Click to go to Pain and meditation – Active meditation 4
Click to go to Buddhism and meditation – Passive meditation 1
Click to go to Tibetan Buddhism and Tantra – Passive meditation 2
Click to go to Zen meditation – Passive meditation 3
Click to go to Jainism and meditation – Passive meditation 4
Click to go to Other Religions and meditation – Passive meditation 5
Click to go to Mandalas and Yantras – Passive meditation 7
Click to go to Tai Chi and Chi Gung – In Between meditation 1
Click to go to Taoism – In Between meditation 2
Click to go to Sounds and meditation – Sounds 1