Meditation makes me feel good. It makes me calm and helps me get through difficult times. It has now even become part of my daily schedule.
When I look back at my early years of meditation, I can see how my primary motivation was to attain enlightenment. Gradually, I let go of the concept of enlightenment and started feeling grateful just to have peace of mind during meditation.
However, I was not truly satisfied. The feeling of calmness I experienced during my morning meditation session did not stay with me throughout the day. By mid-afternoon, I would already be overwhelmed with work and other chores. I really wanted to maintain peace of mind for the rest of the day, if not forever.
A mantra is a powerful, sacred verse that helps us enter a deep state of meditation. I recite mantras quietly in my morning sessions, while I sing them out loud during evening meditation sessions. Singing mantras in the evenings rejuvenates my cells after a long day at work.
In the beginning, I used to meditate on my “self-scripted” mantra. One day, by luck or sheer grace, I stumbled upon a Siddha, the wise one. He advised me to recite a sacred mantra.
He said to me, “Why do you want to waste your time and energy purifying your mantra when there are many sacred mantras already purified for you?”
His words struck me quite deeply. I thought to myself: Time is precious. Buddha meditated in severe conditions for many years, not getting any results, and finally when he chose the middle path, he gained wisdom. I did not want to waste any more time purifying my mantra.
My eyes glued to the yogi’s glowing face, and in a soft and respectful tone, I made a humble request for a mantra. With a warm and generous smile, he wrote down a few words on a piece of paper. He recited the verse and asked me to repeat it after him. From that day onward, I have been using sacred mantra for meditation, and I feel truly blessed.
Based on my experience, it is essential to have a good mantra, because good mantras are full of positive energy. They are purified and blessed by realized beings, therefore they will produce immediate positive results.
A mala is a traditional tool used in Buddhist and Hindu practice for meditations and prayers. Malas help us become more mindful during our meditation session. I use a mala to keep count while reciting or chanting a mantra. A typical mala is made with 108 beads, a sacred number in yoga and Hinduism. Most mala beads are made from Rudraksha seeds, sandalwood, or yak bones. Nowadays, glass beads for mala necklaces are also popular.
There are many types of malas available. Some specifically claim to be “for certain types of meditation.” No matter what they say, be assured that all beads can be used for all kinds of meditation and mantras. I wear my mala as a bracelet, but you can also wear it as a necklace or simply carry it in your pocket or bag.
I would like to share with you a simple meditation practice using a mala while reciting mantras, also known as japa in Sanskrit. One does not have to follow a specific sect or a religion to use a mala or recite mantras.
1. I start by exhaling. I try to feel the bigger “self” I am connecting to—the universe—by giving it all my air.
This may surprise you a bit. We are usually taught by modern meditation culture to start by inhaling. However in ancient times, most sages and monks in the East always started their meditation session with exhaling. The tradition of offering something to God or the universe first is still widely practiced in Hinduism and Buddhism. Therefore I recommend you start your meditation by exhaling, showing gratitude to the higher power before you nourish yourself with the universal air.
2. I inhale through my nose, and I try to feel the smaller self—the individual—I am nourishing with the universal air.
I usually do the breathing exercise for three to four minutes until I feel a sense of connection with the bigger “Universal Self.”
I relax my body and alert my mind.
When thoughts, emotions, and feelings come, I just acknowledge them. I do not entertain, cling to, or grasp them. I do not obstruct them either. I let them in, and let them out. I become aware like the ocean undisturbed by the waves. I become aware like the blue sky undisturbed by the clouds.
3. I take my mala in my hand as shown in the picture below and touch the first bead next to the center bead, also known as the “Guru Bead” with my thumb. I recite the mantra quietly, with deep attention, and let my breath, the mantra, and my awareness become slowly one.
If you do not have a mantra, I recommend you to use this sacred mantra purified by the Awakened Ones:
“Om Ah Hum”
“Om” represents the body blessing of all the Buddhas.
“Ah” represents the speech blessing of all the Buddhas.
“Hum” represents the mind blessing of the all the Buddhas.
Then I move my thumb to the next bead and repeat the mantra quietly, with deep attention, and let my breath, the mantra, and my awareness become slowly one.
I repeat the process until I come back to the center bead. If I want to do another round, I start over from the first bead. I usually do two to three rounds.
To make my meditation experience more mindful:
While reciting “Om,” I think of a white color on my forehead.
While reciting “Ah,” I think of a red color on my throat.
While reciting “Hum,” I think of a blue color on my heart.
The mantra resonates in my inner self throughout day and night, giving me tremendous peace and clarity. I wear the mala wrapped around my wrist like a bracelet. It reminds me to become mindful of myself and the external environment. I can feel the positive energy in my mala. It is ripe with blessings from the universe.
The mantra and mala have become my best companions, just like friends in need are the best indeed.
Author: Manishi KC
Images: Author’s Own
Editor: Travis May