Day Seven: Mantra Meditation (11 minutes)
I used to think that mantras were used as a form of distraction in meditation. I thought they were to drown out any extra noises. I was wrong!
Mantras are used to protect your mind. They're used for visualization.
Don't actively think about the intention or the meaning on the mantra. If you know what some of the words mean, it will have a meaning without you having to intentionally think about it. These associations will have an affect on your mind, and will deepen in significance over time if you explore them outside of meditation.
Ira suggest using one of the following three mantras:
1. Sat Nam
Sat Nam is the Kindalini Mantra of Awareness. The most prevalent of all mantras in theKundalini yoga tradition is at once very simple and very complex. You'll hear this mantra used as a greeting, as a part of many kriyas and meditations, and as a closing to class. You'll find it the "default" mantra, suggested by teachers as the mantra to have playing in your head constantly on each inhale and exhale. It even headlines Spirit Voyage's Kundalini Yoga and Music Festival: Sat Nam Fest.
OM/AUM: The three parts of Om (A-U-M) encompass the three states of waking, dreaming, deep sleep, the three levels of gross, subtle, causal, and the three levels of conscious, unconscious, subconscious, as well as the three universal processes of coming, being, and going. Absolute silence beyond the three levels is the silenceafter AUM. It also refers to Tripura, the one who live in the "three cities" as in Mahamrityunjaya Mantra, as well as the light referred to in Gayatri Mantra.
Namah/Namaha: Adoration, homage, respect. Nothing is mine (as an individual person); everything is thine (as the Absolute Reality). The three levels of Om, the three worlds of gross, subtle, and causal, along with the three states of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep states of consciousness, as well as the three levels of conscious, unconscious, and subconscious themselves are "not mine" as the true properties of who I really am. Truly, "nothing is mine." Rather, everything, all of these triads is "thine" or the "other" as the Absolute Reality.
Shivaya/Shiva: That Absolute Reality that is the ground out of which the others emerge. It is that "ink," so to speak, that is not separate from the many forms which may appear to manifest or be created from that ink. In the Realization of this, one comes to see that he or she is one and the same with the Absolute Reality. The Mahavakyas, the great utterances, are seen to be true. Shiva (the static or ground) and Shakti (the active or creative) are seen to be one and the same. She (Shakti), while one with Shiva is realized in direct experience as the one in the three worlds (Tripura) outlined in Om.
The Five Sacred Syllables: The Om Namah Shivaya mantra has five syllables: na-mah-shi-va-ya (sometimes called six syllable mantra by including Om). Thus, Om Namah Shivaya mantra is called five-syllable mantra, or Panchakshara Mantra (panch means five). Among other things, these five represent the five elements of earth, water, fire, air, and space. Thus, the Om Namah Shivaya mantra leads awareness in the reverse order from manifestation back to the source from which manifestation arose.
3. Om Mani Padme Hum
Tibetan Buddhists believe that saying the mantra (prayer), Om Mani Padme Hum, out loud or silently to oneself, invokes the powerful benevolent attention and blessings of Chenrezig, the embodiment of compassion. Viewing the written form of the mantra is said to have the same effect -- it is often carved into stones, like the one pictured above, and placed where people can see them.
Spinning the written form of the mantra around in a Mani wheel (or prayer wheel) is also believed to give the same benefit as saying the mantra, and Mani wheels, small hand wheels and large wheels with millions of copies of the mantra inside, are found everywhere in the lands influenced by Tibetan Buddhism.
It is said that all the teachings of the Buddha are contained in this mantra: Om Mani Padme Hum can not really be translated into a simple phrase or sentence.
It is appropriate, though, to say a little about the mantra, so that people who want to use it in their meditation practice will have some sense of what they are doing, and people who are just curious will understand a little better what the mantra is and why it is so important to Tibetan Buddhists. We begin in the next section with some information about the mantra itself.