A mantra is a
syllable, string of syllables, word, or string of words repeated during
meditation. You can chant your mantra or simply repeat it in your mind.
The word mantra comes from the
Hindu use of this technique and is used by some religious meditation
practitioners in a more specific sense than it is here, but
mantras do not have to be religious.
The main thing with using a mantra to meditate is to find a mantra that
works for you — one you can actually keep repeating. You can say your
mantra out loud or in your
Don’t change mantras half-way through your meditation. Use the one you
chose at the start for the whole meditation.
Choosing a mantra
One of my meditation teachers taught that we should never use a mantra
that is in anything other than our first language — we're trying to
make our subconscious minds work with us, and they’re best off with our
native language. So ‘om’ and all
Buddhist mantras are pretty much ruled out by this. So is anything in
I quite like ‘om,’ anyway, as a focus, but I do find the first-language
argument has positives too.
A favourite phrase can act as a mantra, if it is short and you are
comfortable with using it that way.
One of my favourite mantras is based on a simple pattern: you take a
noun never a verb or adjective) that
you would like more of in your life, and you add ‘I am’ to it.
You could try ‘I am happiness,’ ‘I am love,’ or ‘I am joy.’
If you’re stressed about money or debt, ‘I am abundance’ is one you
might try. If you’re in a chaotic mess, try ‘I am peace.’
Using the mantra
Check your posture, then ground
Start repeating your mantra. Repeat it aloud or in your head, as you
find you’ve gone off on a tangent, that’s okay. Just start repeating
Meditation is most useful when practised every day, even for short periods of time.
As with the acceptance meditation, there are always bits
of one’s mind
that flat-out reject one’s chosen statement. You don't have to do
anything about them except to keep saying the mantra. You’re not trying
to drown them
out or disagree with them — you’re just saying it alongside, free to
however you do feel about the mantra.