February 14, 2013
Last week we were talking about mantra japa, repetition of a sacred sound formula, as a very accessible meditation technique. I will share some more about that until someone brings up a question.
A little review... mantra japa is repeating a sound formula. Since everything is composed out of waves (sound) it is a very powerful tool The repetition is best done aloud at first which really gets the body to resonate with it and makes it easy for the mind to direct its attention upon it, and then quieted down to draw the awareness inward and to let the mantra's vibration expand even more. Next the repetition is done quietly but still moving the lips and tongue so that you get more subtly aware of how the mantra moves you within. You go even deeper by stopping the movement and simply do the repetition mentally. And then, once you have been doing this practice steadily for quite some time, you can sort of ride the mantra - there is no more effort of repeating, only being attentive to it, and letting it take you wherever that may be.
As with all meditation techniques, there is a danger that when you have a wonderful, rich, deep experience, your mind then tends to think that "this is right; this is real meditation, this is what it is supposed to be like." And then the next time you sit to do your meditation practice you approach it looking for that same experience. Unfortunately this actually keeps from the experience. You did not have that nice experience by looking for it, but by simply doing your practice and techniques and allowing whatever was to take place to happen.
Back to mantra japa. Mantra repetition is most likely the most practiced yoga in the world. More people are repeating mantra right now and do it for more time than any other yoga practice. One of the reasons is that it is such a direct connection with the Absolute. Another is that it is such a powerful tool that not only quiets the mind so that you come to remember your eternal Self, but also shapes the circumstances of your present life in beneficial ways very effectively. And another reason is that it can be done in almost any setting and time and in so many different ways.
Let's talk about each of those elements. A direct connection to the Absolute... scripture and the sages of all traditions tell us that there is a primal sound and everything else is manifested through or by or of that. the word AUM or OM is often used to designate that primal sound. One of the names for the OM is Anahata, which means unstruck. All sounds but OM are brought about through something being resonated or struck. But OM is the primal sound of being and simply resonates. Scriptures tell us that we are able to hear that primal resonation the OM of being itself. We are also taught through scripture that the primal sound is actually God through which all takes form into being. So, when we use mantras, these sacred sound formulas, we are drawn to an inner awareness of the core of our being and all being itself.
Chanting a mantra regularly "shapes the circumstances of your present life in beneficial ways." As we chant a mantra regularly (and chanting the same mantra every day is key for this to happen), our mental patterns are reshaped by the vibration of the mantra. We start to think differently, and in very healthy, constructive, creative, insightful ways. It is actually our mental patterns that shape our life circumstances. As you thin, so you become. Think well, you become well. Think ill, you become ill. Think generously, abundance flows through you. Think miserly, your life becomes tight. Think joyfully, delightful circumstances surround you. Think fearfully, dangers manifest in your life. This is a universally recognized wisdom teaching. So, when you take on a sacred mantra it has a positive, constructive energy about it, and will shape your thoughts so that they take on these qualities. Then, as you stay with your practice, your life circumstances will take on the shape of your new mental patterns. You need not "try" to create specific things. You can trust that all is working together for your good and the good of all about you.
"Mantra japa can be done in almost any setting and time." It is so wonderful that such an effective, rich, spiritual practice is so easy for us to incorporate into our lives. It is useful, and important to do it in a more formal fashion where it is the only thing being done with full attention - such as sitting at your altar and repeating at least a mala of your mantra. But it is also important to do it outside of that setting, and it can easily be done - perhaps easier than almost any other spiritual practice. You can repeat your mantra as you go to sleep (instead of counting sheep). You can do it upon waking up while still in bed and starting to move the body. You can do it aloud. You do it silently in a crowded elevator. You can do it while driving the car. You can repeat your mantra while walking in the woods, or in town or while waiting at the front door for someone to answer. You can do it while you take a shower. You can do it as you swim, as you bike, as you jog. Get it? And you should. the more you repeat your mantra the quicker you will come into a peaceful enlightened state, and the quicker you will become established in that. You can also write your mantra.
Must sign off for this morning... repeat your mantra.