What is Mantra?
Mantra translates to "mind vehicle" — "man" meaning mind and "tra" meaning method or instrument. Mantras possess mystical as well as spiritual powers.
Mantras are either recited aloud or in one's inner thoughts. The continuous repetition of a particular Mantra can instigate a trance-like state of mind in the practitioner which can lead him or her to a different level of spiritual awareness.
What is Mantra Meditation?
Mantra meditation is a type of meditation that involves the repetition of a specific mantra. The practice of mantra meditation has been used for centuries in various spiritual traditions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism, as well as in more modern spiritual practices.
The repetition of a mantra is believed to have a number of benefits, including the ability to calm the mind, increase focus and concentration, and promote feelings of peace and inner stillness. In addition, mantras are thought to have the power to transform negative thoughts and emotions into positive ones, and to bring the practitioner into a state of spiritual awareness.
What do Mantras mean?
Mantras often have deep and significant meanings behind them, as they are chosen for their spiritual or philosophical significance. In many spiritual traditions, mantras are believed to possess powerful energies or vibrations that can bring about positive transformations in the individual who repeats them.
Some mantras are derived from ancient scriptures and have been used for centuries in spiritual practices, while others may be personal phrases that hold special meaning for the individual using them. Ultimately, the meaning of a mantra may vary depending on the context in which it is used and the intention of the individual using it.
Some mantras contain Sanskrit words mixed with syllables, while some just contain syllables. The words and syllables represent different aspects of the Buddhist teachings, like with this example of “om mani padme hum”:
Om – this syllable is made up of the three sounds a, u and m, and represents both the body, speech and mind attained with enlightenment, and our ordinary body, speech and mind that first need to be purified of their deficiencies.
Mani – this word means “jewel” and it refers to the first, or method side, of two factors that bring about the above purification. In this context, method is compassion, based on which we have the bodhichitta aim to attain enlightenment in order to benefit all beings as much as possible.
Padme – this means “lotus,” and it represents the second factor, wisdom, an understanding of emptiness. Voidness (emptiness) is the total absence of impossible ways of existing. Normally we project all sorts of nonsense concerning how we, others, and the world exist, but these projections do not correspond to reality. We believe these projections to be true, and so we become self-centered and unable to develop sincere altruistic compassion.
Hum – this syllable indicates the indivisibility, here of method and wisdom, that will bring about enlightenment for the benefit of all.
How to practice Buddhist Mantra Meditation?
Step 1: Choose the mantra you want to recite.
Step 2: Learn the mantra, or write it down.
Step 3: Sit cross-legged on a cushion. In a quiet private place where you won’t disturb anyone, and no one will disturb you.
Step 4: Take three deep breaths. Do concentration meditation for two minutes by counting your breaths, or concentrating on your breath without counting.
Step 5: From your heart, generate the request to the Buddha, Bodhisattva, or deity that he/she grants you an inspiration to follow the path to full enlightenment; make this request on behalf of all living beings who are trapped in samsara
Step 6: Start reciting the mantra and visualize the deity of your mantra in front of you.
Step 7: After a few minutes start visualizing your words reaching all sentient beings and relieving them from all their suffering.
Step 8: Repeat the mantra 108 times or one round of mala.
Step 9: After you finish the meditation, sit quietly for a few minutes.
Step 10: Dedicate your merit to the happiness of all beings in order to free them from suffering and help them to attain enlightenment.
In conclusion, mantra meditation is a powerful and effective way to quiet the mind, increase focus and concentration, and tap into a deeper sense of spiritual awareness. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced meditator, the practice of mantra meditation is accessible to anyone, and can be easily incorporated into your daily routine. By choosing a mantra that resonates with you personally and repeating it during your meditation sessions, you can experience the many benefits of this ancient spiritual practice, and bring greater peace, balance, and inner wisdom into your life.