Mantra meditations are meditations in which the repetition of a sound, a word, a sentence or an affirmation is our focus of meditation or the focal point we use while meditating. We may speak the mantra out loud or repeat the mantra in our mind.
Mantra meditations are especially effective in helping to reduce or eliminate distracting thoughts and bring our awareness into one focus. In some schools of meditation the ultimate aim is being 100% focused. In this state you become one with the object of your meditation.
Mantra meditations go back as far as the ancient Vedic traditions, in which mantras were used to garner influence of the gods. The original meaning of the word mantra is considered to be "that which protects our mind".
Some people also believe that mantras may have a healing effect as a result of the specific vibrational energies that each word has.
Mantras are also commonly used with mala beads or prayer beads.
In the past we may have used mantras to win favor from the gods or to improve our spiritual abilities, nowadays it may be more common to use affirmations as used in modern psychology to improve our self-esteem or mental or emotional health.
Have you ever stood in front of a mirror and said to yourself: "you can do it, I am beautiful, strong and healthy, I am happy or I am attractive?" These are all positive affirmations.
In our meditations we may use mantras that are derived from traditional yoga and meditation schools of thought or we can use mantras that we create ourselves like positive affirmations.
The mantras can be as simple as a sound: "Aum" or even a word or a sentence: "I love myself" It just depends on your preferences for which mantra that you want to use during your meditations.
There are many mantras to choose from. We have provided a few sample suggestions below. It may be helpful for you to try a few and notice which ones resonate more with you.
In general Aum is seen as the mother of all mantras. Aum is the sound through which the universe vibrates and it symbolizes all mantras, all vibrations and all sounds put together.
In general they may be a little more challenging than simple breathing meditations in which we only count our breaths. But the fact remains that mantra meditations can be exceptionally useful for quieting down your thoughts and finding peace of mind.
Here's a few sample mantras (or affirmations):
- Om, Ah, Aum, Hum
- Om Namah Shivaya
- Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo
- Sat Naam
- Om Shanti Shanti Shanti
- Om Mani Padme Hum
- I am Safe
- I am Happy
- Everything is in Divine Order
In the following meditation exercise, the repeating of a mantra is our object of focus. This could be the first inspiration for you to choose a mantra of your own. Choose a mantra from this article or choose one that you have created or found yourself.
It may be helpful to choose a word or a sound that has a positive meaning for you. When you have chosen a mantra, prepare yourself like you would for any other type of meditation.
Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit and begin to repeat your mantra internally. If you find that your mind is wandering, just bring your attention back to your mantra.
When you are repeating the mantra in your mind, the mantra may change a little. You may repeat the mantra more quickly or more slowly, more loudly or more softly, more clearly or less clearly or the duration of the mantra may vary. That is all okay.
Just remember that any time that you notice your thoughts pulling you away to return to your mantra gently and firmly.
Go with the flow, but remain aware of everything that happens.
Mantra Meditation Exercise
For this exercise, we have chosen the mantra "Aum" (aaa-uuu-mm)
- Sit down in a comfortable position, close your eyes and settle in.
- Be aware of every breath in and out. Let your breathing find a natural rhythm rather than trying to control it.
- Observe how the air slowly passes in through your nose, fills up your lungs and comes back out again.
- After a few breaths and when you feel more relaxed begin to repeat the mantra Aum internally.
- Concentrate your full attention on the internal sound of Aum. Don't worry about the speed or if the way you are doing it is correct. Just let it flow naturally however that is for you.
- Maybe you want to imagine that you hear Aum in your mind or visualize the word Aum in your mind's eye. Aaaauuuummmm, Aaaauuuummmm, Aaaauuuummmm
- If you start to think of something other than your mantra, let it be okay and return to your mantra.
- If you begin to notice any sensations in your body, that's fine just observe and go back to Aum.
- Continue with this mantra meditation for as long as you wish.
- When you are ready, slowly bring your awareness back to the rest of your body and the sounds in the room. Move a little, stretch your muscles a little and open your eyes.
Very simple and effective. The more often you do it, the longer you will be able to stay with your mantra. At first, only a few seconds, then ten seconds, then twenty or half a minute.
You will get more skilled the more you practice. In time you may notice more of the positive effects that this style of meditation has to offer and may find that your meditations are deeper.