Mantra is a Sanskrit word stemming from two roots: man means mind, and tra means tool, or instrument. A mantra is therefore a tool for the mind on the path to enlightenment.
These days, we see mantras in the form of positive affirmations (“You is smart, you is kind, you is important.”) and also in their more traditional form as a one-syllable sound vibration that doesn’t necessarily have a literal translation.
On the level of the mind, mantras replace thinking. In any moment, you can only focus on one thing. So in mantra meditation, for every moment you actively concentrating on the sound or phrase, you are not distracted by other thoughts.
In certain religions, including Buddhism, Christianity, and Hinduism, practitioners recite mantras to deepen their mind-heart connection and be present with Divinity.
If you are interested in trying mantra meditation, or japa meditation in Sanskrit, under guidance, you can seek a teacher from a secular or spiritual background.
In each of these cases, mantras are typically given by the teacher to the student, along with instructions on how to practise with it.
Otherwise, you can choose your own mantra or affirmation and repeat it silently in your head, or softly out loud. As with loving-kindness meditation (see above) it is important to recite the words intentionally, with heart and purpose.
Some popular suggestions:
I am patient.
I am content in this moment.
My heart will guide me.
My treasures lie within.
For a morning mantra meditation,
As you inhale, think I am energized.
As you exhale, think I am focused.
Or try the traditional Buddhist mantra: om mani padme hum , which has been used for hundreds of years to help Buddhist practitioners touch their own inner wisdom.
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