Recently, I asked my subscribers, “What questions do you have about mindfulness or meditation?” and this post is the first of a series inspired by those topics. Kate S. said, “I’d like to see mantra and a variety of mindfulness activities – not limited to sit down meditations,” so in today’s post we’ll explore mantras and then in a future post will explore additional mindful activities we can take off the cushion.
Let’s Begin with Mantra
Did you know that mantra is a Sanskrit term meaning ‘mind protection,’ how incredible is that? The mantra is chanted in two different forms: verbal and mental recitation.
What makes mantra recitation such a powerful mindfulness practice is that you can practice it anywhere. When you’re waiting around for a friend or a bus, you can easily practice mental recitation. If you’re out taking a walk, you can squeeze in some verbal recitation. Think flexible and durable.
Mantra recitation can also be accompanied by music and practiced with a group of people, often referred to as kirtan. In kirtan, a mantra is used in a call and response fashion, and it’s a fun and exciting way to engage in mindfulness with friends and family. Mantra can also be practiced alone using Mala or Prayer Beads, where each bead is used to count the number of recitations.
Some of my Favorite Mantras
In the Buddhist tradition that I follow, we do group chant and prayers, and I also practice at home – in both situations I use mala. I wear a mala around my wrist, so I can just slip it off when I need to use it.
I often use the following mantras:
TAYATHA OM GATE GATE PARAGATE PARASAMGATE BODHI SOHA (Perfection of Wisdom, from the Heart Sutra)
IDAM GURU RATNA MANDALAKAM NIRYATAYAMI (Offering the Mandala)
OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA (Liberation from Sorrow)
OM AH HUM (Purify Body, Speech and Mind)
To explain the meaning of each of these mantras would take up another post, but the critical thing to remember is that we recite the mantras or prayers of our choice as often and as frequently as we can. Mantra recitation allows us to build our concentration and the stronger our attention muscles, the stronger our mindfulness.
Where to Find Mantras
Just doing a quick online search, you’ll find plenty of mantras. When surfing the web, you’ll most likely find mantras clumped into one of three categories: Buddhist, Hindu (Yoga) or Motivational. If you see yourself going this route, it’s essential to learn what the mantra means and how to pronounce it correctly. Again, you can get a lot of this information online and can even use YouTube for tutorials.
If you’re not drawn to religious practice, you can also create your mantras. Perhaps you need a little extra boost in the mornings or to get through a tough time? Why not sit and contemplate on your strengths and then turn that into a mantra?
Either way, if you’re searching online for mantras or creating your own, the mantra should have some significance for you. It should also be something that you can easily remember so that you can recite and practice it either on or off the meditation cushion.
What Do You Say?
If you practice mantra recitation, I’d love to hear about your experiences? Do you practice verbal or mental recitation? How often do you practice with others, do you use kirtan? Leave a comment below!
Originally appeared on CM.
Photo by Pixabay.