A mantra is a word or series of words chanted aloud or silently to invoke spiritual qualities. Chanting is used as a spiritual tool in virtually every cultural and religious tradition. In the yogic tradition a mantra is a Sanskrit word that has special powers to transform mind, body and spirit. Translated, mantra means, "that which when reflected upon gives liberation." Mantras are unique mystical formulas of sacred syllables, which were originally revealed to the Rishis (seers or sages) in the deepest states of meditation. Mantras were one of the earliest components of yoga and are quite possibly the first type of meditation that was developed.
There are three main types of mantras, Bija (seed), Saguna (with form), and Nirguna (without form). The Bija mantras can be used individually, but are most often incorporated into Saguna mantras to invest them with a special "seed" power. The Bija mantras correlate to the 7 chakras and to the main Hindu deities. The Saguna mantras invoke the forms of the individual deities or personalized aspects of God. It is said that the recitation of the Saguna mantras gives rise to the actual form of the particular deity, thus manifesting its power.
The Nirguna mantras originate from the Vedic texts and are thus the oldest mantras of the three types. As no deities or personalized aspects of God are invoked with these mantras, they are very difficult to interpret and are considered to not have a specific form or meaning to them. These mantras are said to have their identification with all the creation, and contain the fundamental truths in yogic philosophy. It is said that the mind must be very strong to be able to concentrate on the abstract Nirguna mantras, and thus they are not recommended for beginning students .
As each mantra invokes a precise power, they can be used for very specific purposes: spiritual development, the healing of diseases, and for the attainment of worldly desires. When combined with the user's intention, mantras can become even more targeted and empowered. The mantras are said to increase in power in direct relationship to the number of times repeated. A mantra is fully empowered by becoming "seated" in the heart after 125,000 repetitions, achieving what is called Mantra Siddhi.
The practice of chanting a mantra is considered the easiest form of meditation. Sitting in a comfortable position, with the eyes closed, the mantra is repeated silently or aloud. Pay careful attention to the speed and rhythm of your chanting, the correct pronunciation, aim, and esoteric meaning of the mantra. Allow the mind to be focused on the mantra, letting the thoughts go and maintaining a slow and deep breath. A Mala (string of beads) can be used to count series of 108 repetitions of the mantra.
Like prayer and affirmation the repetitious use of mantra can have powerful effects on the mind, body, spirit and emotions. Mentally, mantra meditation increases concentration, and improves memory and focus. Physically, mantra meditation lowers the heart rate, reduces blood pressure, and activates the relaxation response to allow healing and rejuvenation to occur. Mantra meditation builds self-confidence and self-empowerment, reduces stress and balances the emotions. Spiritually, mantras are said to dissolve one's bad karma, produce jnana (wisdom) and are considered one of the many yogic paths towards self-realization.
Well, so you’ve decided to meditate. You are sitting in a comfortable position (wow, you look so Zen!), closing your eyes… and now what?
Ok, so you start pushing yourself to blank your mind and then you start with THAT crazy monkey mind… “oh I forgot to reply to this email...” “Tomorrow I go to the supermarket”… etc. And then you realized that you are not meditating at all… STOP! Do not leave the mission; here I introduce you a meditation for distracted minds called Trataka, the technique of the candle gazing.
How to do it?
1- Light a candle and place it on a small table around 1 meter in front of you.
2- Sit in a comfortable posture with the spine upright with arms and shoulders relaxed.
3- Make sure that the flame is at the level of your eyes. Also, make sure that you are facing the candle directly without having to turn the neck even slightly.
4- It is important that the flame remains steady during the concentration routine. So, make sure that there is no breeze around the flame.
5- Close the eyes, inhale and exhale for about five breaths. This will allows you to settle down.
6- Now, gaze at the flame intently and keep your gaze on it.
7- Keep your vision focused and steady at the flame without blinking, for as long as you can.
8- Continue to gaze at the flame until you cannot keep your eyes open and tears start flowing. Once this happens, close your eyes.
9- You may be able to visualize an after-image of the flame with closed eyes. Try to bring this image at the point between the eyebrows.
10- When the image begins to fade out completely, you can open your eyes and repeat the full gazing again.
(10 minutes every morning)
And congrats, you are meditating!
Important: Meditation it’s not about to blank the mind, just watch and let thoughts pass.
Meditation is a biological process.
The brain has areas that are specialized in certain functions and has two hemispheres: right and left.
There is not one more important than the other, both are equally important. They are like two wings of a bird. But has discreetly distinct functions.
The left hemisphere is logical, mathematical, sequential, analytical, rational and executive.
And has a particularity, has a kind of clock which means that knows the passage of time.
The right hemisphere, for its part, is a hemisphere that has holistic, intuitive, emotional, creative, musical, spiritual, functions in general.
This hemisphere (right) doesn't know the passage of time, the left hemisphere does.
It happened to you sometimes that you were ecstatic looking at a candle and you stood there staring for a few minutes, and it's like time has not elapsed? Well, at that moment you were meditating.
The left hemisphere, rational, mathematical, always gets intrusive thoughts.
Meditate is to set the attention of the left hemisphere on a focal object. When this happens, the left hemisphere is concentrated and the right hemisphere which has no sense of time, enters into a state of ecstasy which is called meditation.
Where toxic substances in the blood go down and this is scientifically measured.
What to use to maintain the attention of our left hemisphere?
Can be a candle, to focus attention on our breathing, chanting a mantra, etc.
The repetitive sequence of counting the beads of a mala, makes the left hemisphere to concentrate and thus the right hemisphere works freely.
This is called meditation. And is extremely beneficial generating peace, serenity and calmness. This is why meditation is a concrete biological process that among other things allows to treat Stress.
Stop that monkey mind meditating and enjoy this Essential life!