Meditation Part 6: Mantra Meditation
Some people find it easier to meditate by focusing their awareness on a sound. When meditating, they recite or chant some kind of phrase or sound repeatedly, listening to the sound, being aware of how the sound is formed, and concentrating on the sound itself.
Some sects of Buddhism rely heavily on mantra meditation. If you are assigned a mantra by a teacher, the mantra may have some meaning in Pali or Sanskrit, or it may just be a sound without meaning. Sometimes, although rarely, a mantra can be an English phrase. You may have heard the phrase, ‚ÄúOm Mani Padme Hum.‚Äú This is a very common mantra. It’s meaning is complicated, but generally involves
‚Äúthe jewel in the lotus.‚Äù The precise meaning of this mantra isn’t so important right now, the sounds of the words themselves is supposed to be powerful in itself. Another common mantra to be repeated while meditating is ‚Äúshanti,‚Äù which means ‚Äúpeace.‚Äù
Years ago, I was taught to use one, ‚ÄúAh Re Hum.‚Äù I don’t even remember what it literally means, but I know I like the way the sounds come out as I breathe the words. I breathe in on the ‚ÄúAh,‚Äù pause a second on the ‚ÄúRe,‚Äù and breathe out with the ‚ÄúHum.‚Äù It sounds a little silly, but it works. It can be very relaxing. Also, if you are especially stressed out, focusing on the sound is sometimes easier than trying to clear the mind entirely. After a while, you don’t actually have to continue to vocalize the words once you have gotten into the mindset; keep the mantra rolling over in your mind as you sit silently.
There is a lot of mysticism and religious thought behind various mantras, some sounds are ‚Äúholier‚Äù than others, some are used for purification, some are for tuning into your individual energy field or the universal energy field to produce practical results. Various sects of Buddhism treat mantras with differing levels of importance. There are also variations of this style of meditation that employ song, chanting, and rhythm to assist in focusing the mind.