Meditation is one of the easiest ways to bring calm and clarity into your life. If you are not familiar with the basics go here for the beginners guide to meditation to see why many schools and businesses now make time for meditation and find the benefits far outweigh the small amount of time taken out of each day.
Why Mantra Meditation?
Mantra meditation can feel very proactive rather than the more passive mindfulness meditation of just sitting and being. Chanting mantras during meditation can be useful for those who find mindfulness meditation a little tricky. In mantra meditation it is easier to maintain concentration though it goes much further than that.
Swami Shivananda said that “The recital of a mantra brings everlasting peace, infinite bliss, prosperity and immortality.” And Swami Krishnananda said in a lecture at the holy city of Rishikesh that “Japa, or repeated recitation of a mantra, is a direct aid to meditation rather than mediation itself. The traditional definition of meditation is a complete and total absorption in an object, with no disturbing extraneous thoughts. Japa of a mantra regularly performed stirs new unknown powers in oneself. The mantra invokes in our mind the notion of a wider reality than we are likely to conceive in our minds in terms of earthly relations.”
How to Chant
Sit comfortably in a place you won’t be disturbed. Take a few deep breaths from your belly to centre yourself. Take another deep breath and chant the mantra on the outbreath. Try and complete the whole mantra on each exhalation. It’s a good idea to choose a fairly short mantra to begin with to make this possible. Let the final sound linger for a moment before taking another breath and repeating the mantra. Keep your jaws and neck relaxed. Let the mantra fall into the rhythm of your breathing. Feel the mantra resonate in your chest. If using the bija chakra mantras pay attention to the chakra you are invoking.
Choosing a Mantra
A mantra can be as short as one syllable as in the well known Om or can run into many verses. Generally though mantras used in meditation run from four to five words. Although the words are important it is also the combined effect of the words together with the sincerity and concentration of the individual chanting the mantra that can evoke a certain type of cosmic power called shakti which releases a special kind of inner awareness.
Words produce a specific vibration, especially when said with feeling and can aid in awakening your inner latent powers.
Here are some of my favourites.
This mantra brings inner peace as well as outer. By chanting this mantra you are also helping to promote universal peace.
Om I Am He (the Infinite)
This is a liberation mantra and confers cosmic consciousness through forgetting the limitations of the body and lower mind. It can be repeated in time with the breath, saying SO on the inbreath and HAM on the outbreath.
Om Namah Shivaya
(ohm nuh-muh shi-VAI-uh)
Om Honour to Shiva
This mantra destroys all negative tendencies and gives the ability to draw inspiration from the dynamic silence within and apply one’s mind perfectly even in a busy world.
Om Srim Lakshmiyai Namah
(ohm shreem luck-shmee-YAI nuh-muh)
Om Honour to Lakshmi
Endows one with prosperity of all forms both material and spiritual. Draws harmony to the home and confers contentment, serenity of mind, endurance and compassion.
Om Sri Ramaya Namah
(ohm shree RAH-MAI-uh nuh-muh)
To summon inner spiritual strength for material success and liberation. To face challenges and bring great joy, contentment and lightness of heart. Is said to relieve depression.
Om Mani Padme Hum
(ohm muh-nee puhd-mey hum)
Om the Jewel in the Lotus
This is the great mystical mantra of the Buddhists meaning that the individual is one with the Supreme. Cosmic consciousness is the jewel found in the lotus of divine wisdom and realisation.
Om Bhanave Namah
(ohm B’HAH-nuh-vey nuh-muh)
Om Salutations to That which diffuses light.
One of the sun mantras that is said, when chanted regularly, to “bestow wonderful health vigour and vitality, and clear eyesight.” Sun mantras bestow long life and brilliance. Most effective when used at sunrise or sunset.
Bija Mantras of the Chakras
Bija mantras are sacred words or sounds. It is said that mantras using bijas are the most potent. Using these bijas awakens the power of each chakra.
(luhm or luhng)
This is the bija of the first chakra which rules the elimination process. The corresponding element is earth and the sense is smell.
(vuhm or vuhng)
The second chakra bija, the generative centre, corresponding to water and the sense of taste.
(ruhm or ruhng)
Bija of the third chakra, the digestive centre. Its element is fire and sense is sight.
(yuhm or yuhng)
Bija of the respiratory centre, the heart centre. The element is air and sense is touch.
(huhm or huhng)
Bija of the fifth chakra whose element is ether and sense is hearing.
Mantra for the sixth chakra, the third eye, its element is vastness and quality is spiritual mind.
The seventh chakra is seen as a thousand-petalled lotus of the brain, the bija for it is considered beyond all sounds and represents all Truth and Being. Thus the sound of this chakra may be regarded as the true inner sound of the individual or the true sound of the cosmos.
Using the Mantras in Meditation
Choose one mantra and use it for at least a week in each of your meditations before moving on. I suggest 5-15 minutes morning and evening for best effect though once a day is better than not at all. Try and get into a routine by meditating at the same time every day. Approach each meditation in a relaxed open manner with no preconceptions.
There are three ways to chant: chanting aloud, whisper chanting and mental chanting. I recommend chanting aloud initially as it is easy to get distracted with whisper or mental chanting. When whisper chanting you may find you can say more than one repetition per breath. For mental chanting it is a good idea to use a simple mantra like So’Ham and let saying the syllables on the in and outbreath regulate your breathing.
A dusty mirror does not reflect as much light as a polished mirror. A mind which has been polished through meditation shines with the light of Truth. The inner brilliance is reflected in harmony inside and out.