In our first few articles on beginning a meditation practice we focused on the posture and the breath. There are many more breathing techniques besides the ones I previously mentioned. These were the most simple and effective for an early practice. (prior meditations articles)
The next important part of beginning meditation is attempting to control what the Buddhists call the ‘monkey mind’, our wandering mind of to-do lists and other random thoughts. Know that you won't always completely achieve this, and know that's OK. When you find your mind starting to wander, forget it, don’t get angry, instead forgive it, just tell it next, never mind, etc… and return to focusing on your ‘in’ breath and ‘out’ breath.
A great way to do that is with the ‘mantra’. A mantra is a one or two word phrase that you use to focus on your Breath. For example, at the Himalayan Institute where I studied, they often used the phrase “SOOO….HUMMM” . In Sanskrit, (ancient Indian text/language), that means “I am that I am”. So on the ‘in’ breath you would say out loud or to yourself…”SOOOO” and on the ‘out’ breath “HUUMMM”. You can choose any two words you want, but your mind calms itself best if it focuses on something it doesn't know what it means.
The word mantra can be broken down into two parts: “man,” which means mind, and “tra,” which means transport or vehicle. So the mantra is a powerful sound or vibration that you can use to enter a deep state of relaxed meditation.
Ohm or Aum is the most basic, well-known and powerful mantra you can chant. By repeating this universal mantra, you will create powerful, positive vibrations in your body. Chanting this, or another single syllable mantra, will help keep your meditation on track and on focus. By repeating a mantra you will also help transform the mind by creating positive mental patterns.
Some of the other known benefits of mantra meditation are:
- Reduced anxiety and stress
- Deep relaxation
- Strengthens the immune system
- Creates compassion & empathy
- Boosts awareness and promotes higher consciousness
- Heightens intuition
- Lowers blood pressure
Developing a daily meditation practice helps you to cultivate a more present, peaceful, and balanced lifestyle, which ripples out into every other aspect of your life and to those around you. Mantra meditation can help bring you back to a centered and present state of mind and being.
One of the great tools that I, my clients and students, have found particularly helpful in bringing on the relaxation and focus of the Ohm, is the use of theOhm tuner . This simple weighted tuning fork is calibrated to the sound of the Ohm, 136Hz, and is simple to use. I use this in my practice to help bring on an instant state of relaxation to my clients before we start an Alexander Method of Vibrational Sound Therapy session. I also use this at the end of a session for deep grounding.
For Meditation, you can sound this tuning fork several times in your ears to start getting yourself vibrating and chanting to this frequency. Before you know it, you will be relaxed and meditating like a Zen Monk.
I hope these techniques help you in cultivating a simple meditation practice that you can stick with and grow with. The most important thing is to show up regularly to do this. Even 5 minutes a day, everyday, will have a great and profound effect on you over all well being.