Good morning! Ahhh, ready to focus upon meditation? any questions?
Last week we spoke about mantra, how it is perfectly fitting for most of us, how we can use it in so many circumstances and activities.
Today I would like to go through how you might select a mantra, how to go about repeating it, and some extra techniques you might use to get more out of it more quickly.
There are so many mantras. Please note that if you are choosing a mantra to aid you in coming to an enlightened state and be the fullness of your Self, you really can ignore the "meaning" of the mantra (we talked about this last week some). Truly any mantra can and will take you all the way. Still, you need to select one.
For most of us it makes sense to try out several until we find one that feels good. We like chanting it. It is comfortable, and perhaps a bit fun to chant it. You can try chanting a mantra in a monotone with a steady rhythm, either slow or faster. You might also try to sing it a little - be free, just have fun. Try it at different pitches, and even change pitches while chanting it. Though these little games are helpful when you are exploring to discover which mantra you might choose to use, they are also fine once you get settled and working wit that mantra, too.
And, yes, it is ok to enjoy what the mantra means or does. Some mantras are about abundance; some about protection; some about healing; some about insight; etc. Since you will be repeating it everyday for years and years, you should like what it is. You want to look forward to hanging out with it. Let it become a friend you like to hang out with.
So try some out for awhile. You can use a number of them to see which one you are inclined to hang out with, which one you enjoy. But then, consciously and clearly select that one. Make a commitment, like a real marriage. Stick with it. Of course,there may be some times when the mantra repetition is dryer than others, even some periods, but even then repeat it with feeling and attention everyday. Play with it, too.
My Gurudev would regularly tell us of the man drilling for water. He would put a well down 50 feet, not hit water and move to another location and drill again. He'd go down 50 feet and again not reach anything, and so relocate and try again. He said that this is how many of us go about working with our mantra. We try one for a while, and then when it hasn't gotten us what we wanted, we blame the mantra and try another one - it might be better. However, the story goes that the driller got tired of putting down new wells and just stayed with the same one and went deeper. At a 100 feet he reached the water. If he had stayed with the first well and just gone deeper he would have reached the water so much sooner. The message here is that we should choose a mantra and use it steadily, not change to another because we see someone else using it and seemingly reaching higher states of consciousness (and people will tell you that it is their mantra which is the best one). No. Just keep using the one you have chosen. It will get you there.
As I said, choose a mantra and stick with it, repeating it everyday. This will work. After all of that, please note that it is ok to change to a new mantra. It may be that your inner guide is directing you. But be cautious about this. Be very reluctant to change to a new mantra. If it is right for you to do that, demand that the Universe make it really evident. Insist that you get the message through a number of sources. Or, if you enter into a special relationship with a teacher, your Guru, of course, take on whatever mantra he or she gives you to use.
Though you have chosen a mantra and are faithfully repeating it daily, this does not keep you from repeating other mantras, too. But do that in addition to your chosen mantra. This way you are free to explore, experience and participate using lots of mantras. But never fail to repeat your chosen mantra each day.
If you are still wondering how to find the mantra for you, why not put that out to the Divine as a prayerful request? If you are sincere and open to receive, guidance will come your way. It is fine to ask for suggestions from people, too - just remember to discount any talk that one particular mantra is the best. Go ahead and try it. See how it feels and works for you.
Now that you have chosen a mantra, how might you go about the repetition? Classically, mantra japa has a few stages. First do it aloud. This will allow you to feel it, let you note how the mouth, lips, tongue are moving with it, where and how it vibrates through the body, and how it impacts your state of consciousness. Repeating it aloud will also keep you repeating it. Next you soften up. This will draw your attention more inward, and heighten your awareness, bringing you to more subtle states of consciousness. Then stop making sound but continue to move the lips and tongue. This will move you even deeper within and to more subtle states of awareness, while making it easy to continue the repetition and notice what the the mantra feels like as it is repeated inwardly. Then, after some time in this fashion, stop moving anything and simply repeat mentally. Again, this will move you deeper within - Rumi says: "...moving down and down into ever widening rings of being." If you have done the earlier steps just described, it will make it so that you are ready and able to note the feeling of the mantra repeating as an inward experience. Though the most subtle levels are the most powerful, it is important to have moved through these steps that help you develop a subtle state of awareness. Otherwise, it may be hard to stay focused on the mantra. This is one of the benefits of using mala beads. As you move to the next bead it calls you to again repeat the mantra, and it holds your focus to what you are doing.
There are plenty of distractions, of course. You might hear or smell something which will catch you attention and draw you down a different path than the one were were on - focused on repeating and feeling the vibration of the mantra and letting it take you where it will.
Thoughts, too, can draw you down a different path. So using mala beads is a useful tool that can keep you on track. There is a traditional approach that uses the fingers like a mala to count and keep steady with your mantra japa. If you have moved into silent repetition but lose your focus, then simply begin to repeat aloud again. This will put you back on track.
Lots more to share about repeating mantras, and then some special techniques and tips... next week.
All love. Repeat your mantra. Have fun.