Why use mantras in meditation
Mantras are a helpful tool during meditation.
I've been using them ever since I realized that my mind was in control of ME and it was saying things to me that I wouldn't let a stranger get away with saying: mean judgments that stung, hurtful snipes that wounded, and untruths that were unfair.
A mantra is a way to change that running monologue in your head into a message that you control and thus is beneficial to you by:
1. calming your mind
2. focusing your thoughts
3. providing a framework for your meditation session
Using a mantra during introspective meditation encourages attentive concentration. Specifically, pairing a mantra with quiet contemplation or meditation provides containers for your mind to explore in a deliberate way. Mantras facilitate an exploration into your self in order to discover answers and understanding. This can be an emotional practice because it uncovers buried or unrealized emotions.
Over time, added benefits of your mantra meditation meditation practice are that you will grow your gratitude, compassion, and patience.
Easy steps for mantra meditation
Here’s how to incorporate a mantra into your meditation:
1. Select a mantra. You can use a modern mantra in English - or your native language - or use one in that is thousands of years old and is chanted in Sanskrit. Some of the mantras I often use are:
- Love flows to me and through me and from me.
- I Am (or the Sanskirt So Hum)
2. Enter your meditative practice as you see fit. Make your body still and comfortable as your mind slows and your breath deepens.
3. Paying attention to the breath, using steady and equal inhales and exhales, begin to
match the mantra to your breath.
Inhale deeply. Exhale completely.
At first focus on breath + the mantra and nothing else.
4. If other thoughts appear, let them drift away as you refocus on the breath and the mantra.
5. As thoughts related to the mantra drift in, stay with them. Explore those related thoughts and feelings. If they become uncomfortable or you feel unsettled, notice those feelings too but stick with the inquiry. Go deeper.
6. It might help to consider specific areas where the mantra might apply. For instance, bring the idea of your family or a particular relationship or situation into your hearts as you breathe with the mantra. Explore where this takes you.
7. Again and again return to the mantra and the breath pairing to guide your meditation.
8. There is no time limit. Finish when your attention needs to return to a different task
With mantra meditation, I am able to notice without judgment. To breathe with intention. To say something nice to myself. And to calm down while slowing down.
Frequently asked questions about mantra meditation
Is a mantra the same as an affirmation?
Mantras and affirmations might have overlapping phrases, but they differ in their purpose.
The purpose of using a mantra is to increase mindfulness and bring about a meditative state by pairing words and breath.
The purpose of an affirmation is to feel better about yourself.
What's important to remember is that your mantra meditation practice goes much deeper than a superficial, feel-good affirmation: it's a chance to better understand your Self, while reaping the physical and mental benefits of meditation (including improved focus, reduced stress, better sleep, boosted immune system, and more.)
How long should my mantra meditation session last?
Meditating with your mantra can last for less than a minute or as long as you have. The length of your mantra meditation sessions can be anywhere two breaths to 40 minutes or more.
There are times when a couple of breaths is all I get through. Other times, under the right conditions, close to an hour can pass almost with notice.
Don't let the length of time devoted to mantra meditation inhibit you from trying. Two intentional breaths with the saying of the mantra is a great place to start.
How often should I practice mantra meditation?
Mantra meditation is a practice you can return to again and again because you can always explore more deeply or apply the mantra to a different area of your life.
Practice mantra meditation multiple times a day. I do.
I accomplish that by incorporating mantra meditation into my everyday routine. Only sometimes do I use mantras sitting in a meditative posture in a quiet place. Most of my mantra meditation practice takes place in the midst of my busy day. I use little cues like when I notice I'm agitated or when I'm engaged in a mindless activity that occupies my hands but not my head.
Rather than let my mind wander when it is idle or overwhelmed, I use the moment to become mindful and present.