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How to Meditate

A Beginners Guide to Mantra Meditation according to Yogic tradition

 

 

The aims of Meditation:

A tale is told about an old lumber jack who lived alone in the forest with no family or sons to help him with his work. One night the old man prayed for a son to help him with his hard work, as he was getting too old and with only little strength for cutting trees. In the morning, as he woke up, he saw a grate ape standing in his house. “I am the son you’ve prayed for!” said the ape. “I shell do as you’ll ask me to.” The old man thanked the lord for he’s blessing and put an axe in the ape’s hand. “Cut a tree for me!” said the old man and the ape immediately went out to the forest and began cutting down a big tree. The old man was glad. Now he can finally relax he’s old body while the ape is doing all this hard work. The ape finished cutting the tree very quickly and then came to the old man asking him for more trees to cut. The old man told him to cut the trees over there and the ape began working again, cutting the trees with grate speed and enthusiasm and piling them up. As he finished the old man said: “That’s enough for today! You can cut more trees tomorrow!” But the ape insisted cutting more trees. He continued cutting more and more trees. All day long and all night long the ape was cutting trees and the old man was afraid there won’t be any more trees left in the in the forest. He again prayed for a solution for his problem. And again he’s prayers were answered. In the morning a grate tree stood in the forest. The ape raised he’s axe and tried to cut down that tree. But no matter how much he strike the tree would not fall down. And so the ape continued cutting that tree and that tree stood still. And so the ape was always happy and so was the old man.

The old man is the Self. The ape is the Mind. The tree is the Mantra.

 Meditation is meant for restraining the mind. The mind is meant to me a tool in our hands, in the hands of the Self. Our mind always wants to be occupied, doing something. Never stop thinking in many directions. In doing so, it is something coming to a situation that instead of the mind being a tool in our hand, the mind is in fact dragging us along after him. This leads to many complications which are very disturbing for our inner peace. The wilder and uncontrolled the mind gets, the more we are disturbed.

In the Katha-Upanishad the body is compared to a chariot. The senses are compared to the five horses that drag the chariot. The intelligence is the driver and the mind is the reins. The self is the lord of the chariot, the passenger. The chariot is meant for driving him to the right place. He is doing so by controlling the drier which controls the mind which restraining the horses from going in different paths, the objects of the senses, and thus dragging the chariot off it’s right course.

Peace of mind is important for focus. This is very important for our journey to self realization. A controlled peaceful mind is our driver to self realization, to spiritual realization. But just as a controlled mind is our best friend, so can an uncontrolled mind be our worst enemy. Therefor, a peaceful state of mind is very important for spiritual awareness. The calmer and more focus our mind gets, the easier it is to see through inside, into the self, our spiritual core, the soul. And inside it we find our true spiritual aim. This is the state which Yoga defines as salvation.

 

The use of a mantra:

The mind in its moving is compared to a wind blowing. It is impossible so just catch the wind. Like so, it is almost impossible to stop the mind from thinking. Some practice meditation that is meant for getting the mind to a complete stop. To get the mind to be completely clear. But since it’s the nature of the mind, and of the self for that matter, to always be in action, it is an easier way of meditation to concentrate the mind on a certain object. Just as a thousand objects are seducing the mind away to the wrong path, so can one spiritual object of thinking keep the mind away from external seductions and concentrating it on the right track.

Aside from the technique of meditation on void, emptying the mind completely, there is another technique of meditation meant for concentrating the mind on that is spiritual. The object of the mind in such meditation is the supreme, God, or whatever you want to call the absolute spiritual being that is the source and meaning of all creation. Instead of fighting the mind, trying to get it clear, the one who practice this meditation is trying to focus his mind on the supreme, on God, and thus using it as a tool in he’s spiritual practice.

The mantra is used by pronouncing it again and again and by so concentrating the mind on the sound vibrations of the mantra. What is pronounced by the mouth is influencing the mind. By the right pronunciation, the right state of mind is accomplished. Manas mean “mind” tra means to liberate or to restrain, to control.

A Mantra is usually a sacred word that represents the supreme. Usually it is a sound that represents the name of God in its meaning. It is not a sectarian, “religious” god, rather then a personal spiritual conception of the supreme. As shown by research, meditation on that supreme does wonders in keeping the practitioner relaxed and tolerant to outside stimulations. In this state, not only the mind reached the state of peace, but also it reaches the spiritual goal of self realization.

 

Type of mantras:

The word Om is very common in Yogic meditation. The Patanjali Yoga Sutras defines Om as “the name of God”. It is also mentioned as a word of such grate spiritual divine meaning in other writings associated with Yoga such as the Upanishads and the Bhagavad-Purana. In the Bhagavad-Gita the word Om is recommended as a spiritual mantra for meditation on the supreme spirit. In Sanskrit, the word Om has three parts (A, O and M). these three parts are given many spiritual meanings such as the three gunas, the three modes of material nature. They are also said to signify God, The love and mercy of God and the Soul (self).

Meditation on Om as a mantra is very common for it is a very easy word to pronounce. The practice is done by sitting in a comfortable position, bringing yourself to a relaxed state and then pronounce “Om” again and again. First take a deep breath, filling your lungs, and then slowly pronounce “Om”. The M is to be extended into a sort of a humming sound fading away as the air clears out from the lungs. Then take another breath and again pronounce the mantra.

Another mantra which consisted of the word Om is the mantra “Hari Om”. As Om is representing the almighty all prevailing divine essence of God, Hari is representing the love of God which is the source of all love. In this mantra, Hari Om, the soul’s original relationship with God is exposed. A relationship stated on divine love. The practice of this meditation fills the one who practice it with the divine spiritual light of love. The selfish concentration on the ego is forsaken and clears the way for love. Since love is based on caring for the other, selfishness is an abstract in the way to love and thus in the way to spiritual consciousness. Therefor, getting rid of egotism is one of the foundations of self realization. It is then elevating the soul to a state of bhakti, of divine love to God and by that to all God’s children.

A very powerful mantra mentioned in the Kali-Santarana Upanishad is the mantra called the Maha-Mantra, meaning “the greatest and most sacred of all mantras”. This mantra is thus:

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare,

Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare

In this mantra, the word Krishna represents God in its most personal aspect. Krishna means “all attractive”. This mantra reveals to us the souls natural attraction to the supream. The word Hari (hare) is representing the divine love of God and the word Rama is representing the grate all pervading power of God. In this mantra used in meditation we should concentrate on a sort of “prayer” to the supreme spiritual power to come and lift us up to a higher state of consciousness. To salvation.

 

How much should I practice?:

The practice of meditation should be done with grate devotion and with consistence. It is recommended to clear a certain amount of time in every day and dedicate it to meditation. If you can dedicate one hour a day for your meditation, that is wonderful. But ever if you can only clear 15 minuets a day, you should still be consistent in your practice daily.

A common way to measure the amount of mantra practice is the use of japa-mala, rosary prayer beads used to count the mantras. The japa-mala in Yogic tradition is 108 beads on a string with the edges of the string tied in a knot through an extra 109th bead. When sitting down to practice your daily mantra meditation, simply hold the first in the line of beads in the japa-mala and thean chant the mantra once. After that continue to the following bead and chant again and again and so on through all 108 beads. When you get to the 109th bead, don’t chant on it. Instead, turn the japa-mala around and start a second round. This way you can decide on a certain number of rounds you should do every day and estimate how much time you need to clear for this practice.

And also remember to take the state of mind accomplished in this practice all through the day. Don’t let the meditation end when you stop chanting and get up. Remember the goal: spiritual life.

 

Difficulties in practice:

Since the mind is hard to restrain, the act of concentrating on the mantra may seem hard at certain times. It sometimes seem that you have to sort of “whiplash” the mind into concentrating on the mantra rather then following different objects. But the further you practice, the better your concentration will be.

It will also seem at certain periods of time that your daily practice is some sort of a chore that you must do unwillingly. That is the result of lack of concentration on the mantra. The state of awareness to which this practice is leading to is spiritually natural to us. Therefor it should be naturally attractive to us. But the material inclinations of the mind to pursue a different path are disturbing to this state. Imagine the mantra chanting as a river trying to flow and the disturbances of the mind as obstacles in the river. In order for the river to flow freely you have to flow more and more water to wash away the obstacles.

There are no shortcuts. The more devoted you are to the practice, the more you’re elevated your consciousness will be. If you’ll abandon your concentration and just unwillingly count your mantras on the japa-mala, you will not be able to be coherent in your daily practice and eventually abandon it completely. You should not contemplate on those precious moments you lose trying to concentrate your mind on the supreme, moments that could have been dedicated to selfish thoughts. Rather you should embrace the grater pleasure you get by taking your concentration away from the self and into the other. That selfless pleasure is your motivation in keeping your practice.

 

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

(Om Peace Peace Peace)

 

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