Whenever we see pictures of people meditating on a hilltop, or by the ocean side, or in a serene surrounding, we invariably think “Oh, how I wish I could do that” or “I would like to be in that calm state”. The daily pace and noisiness of life wraps us in its bustle, leaving little time for solitude and self reflection. In fact, there is a barrage of sound bites that causes our mind to be in rapid activity all the time. When the mind is not in a relaxed state, the body is also not relaxed. For most people it is hard to quietly sit and do nothing. All the distractions train our minds to think in sound bites and many people are fast losing the capability of deep thinking, where one can hold a thought and think it through fully.
The good news is that meditation is a universal human quality and with some effort anyone can meditate. There are different types of meditation techniques that can slowly bring the mind to a restful state so that a person can meditate. Such techniques use an object of meditation. The object can be the breath, or a picture of a deity or some specific sounds. Taking the sound as an object of meditation is called “Mantra Meditation”. Mantra is a Sanskrit word derived from two roots – man meaning “mind” or “to think” and trai meaning to “free from”. Mantras are tools of the mind to free the mind. The commonly used meaning of mantra is “chant”
A chant or mantra is nothing but an arrangement of sounds in specific ways to create the needed ambiance. These sounds when uttered and repeated a certain number of times decreases mental activity, and the person experiences calmness and is more present. The main essence of a mantra is the repetition. It is the repetition of the mantra over and over again that brings about the change in the psyche. How is that possible?
Sounds are nothing but vibrations and our body is made up of vibrations. Our thoughts and feelings are also vibrations. Yogis of yore discovered that by sustaining a particular sound vibration for a long time, the nature of the mind and body can be transformed. Repeating the mantra imprints that specific set of sounds in the mind. The more the repetition the bigger the imprint. It is this imprint of the sound that can improve concentration, well-being, resilience to negative inputs, and elevate consciousness.
How to choose a mantra? It is better to use tried and tested sounds, one that has been used by various spiritual seekers and masters. Mantras created in the older languages like Sanskrit, Pali, Tibetan are effective as these mantras have been used effectively over many centuries. It is important to keep the intonation and pronunciation as it was originally intended. As these are sound vibrations, the smallest of alteration changes the quality of vibration. If the language is foreign to you, it is best to keep the simple sounds that can be easily uttered without distortion. You can try a few mantras before you decide on which one most speaks to you. Once chosen, it is better to always use the same mantra.
There are different types of mantras. Every mantra activates a particular kind of energy in a different part of the body. Without that necessary awareness, just repeating the sound only brings dullness to the mind. But when it is done with proper awareness, with exact understanding of what it is, a mantra could be a very powerful means.
AUM is the most common mantra. It is the fundamental sound in the universe. It is short and can be easily uttered without deviating from the original sound. It is a very powerful mantra that is known to have numerous benefits.
· Creates a meditative state giving deep relaxation.
· Improves concentration and focus.
· Removes negative mental impressions from your mind.
· Improves immunity and health.
· Improves voice, gives strength to vocal cord and thyroid gland.
· Normalizes blood pressure.
· Helps with emotional regulation.
· Increases energy and removes fatigue.
Follow along with this video for an AUM chanting session.
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