Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Meditation and the Way of Mantra

Many of us live in a vast, rich, multi textured and ever repeating soundscape. We devote time and spend money on sounds that we expect to give us happiness, excitement, relaxation and fulfilment. Most sounds are physically produced outside of us and reverberate in. Let's dare to be different. In this article are 2 exercises and some ideas for exploring sounds inside us, to produce great effects for our well being. I wonder if you've thought that mantras are no different than a word you've never read or understood before?

Photo: Poorfish

I'm sure you've all heard of mantras. They are a sound, created inside you to effect change in your awareness. Mantras are constructed from a series of syllables that appear to mean nothing when read by themselves.

Much has been written on the internet and in books about mantras. I've used several mantras and I've not found them reproduced elsewhere. To be honest, I can't remember them accurately anyway. What I do remember are their effects and the ways we can repeat mantras or syllables internally.

I discovered a lot can be revealed by repeating syllables and even some everyday words. The effects vary. One useful thing to remember is, a mantra has no personal, logical, social meaning to inhibit what you may experience directly from saying it. I found that mantras given to me many years ago were quite powerful and revealing. I won't be revealing any mantras here. I will be giving you good ways to say syllables internally to create positive effects.

A little extra on mantras and syllables
They have no meaning by themselves, compared to everyday words like those I've written. They have less mental, emotional or physical associations with them. Therefore it's easier for you to repeat them and 'go inside' to discover more. Mantras move your focus of awareness from the exterior world, into yourself. They offer an absence of logical reasoning. Such syllables may replace reasoning and thinking with insight and realisation. I like to think that's a good thing.

What benefit will I get from repeating syllables or a mantra?
I honestly don't know how rewarding you'll find an exploration of mantras. I'll offer several good suggestions later on, to help you get the most. I'm going to use a few general and vague references here, so be patient until we get to the good stuff later.

To deepen your self -appreciation and understanding. Maybe even broaden your relationship with your environment.
Repetition of anything reveals and creates new structures.
To move your awareness into your 'inner world'.
To help gain information of yourself.
To discover what's always been there.
It has no personal, logical, social meaning to inhibit what you may experience directly from saying it.

Your name as your first mantra
Have you ever considered that mantras are no more unusual than the sound of your own name?
Is it possible that your name is your first personal mantra? This may sound a little contrary to the definition I gave earlier. Take a moment to consider the following.

Sometime, very early in your life, a series of shapes called letters and syllables were given a very personal meaning and structure. Due to many years of use, your name combines intention, repetition and elicits a state of awareness from you. The obvious difference with your name is that others more often say your name than you do. Your name, that 'word' has personal, social meaning. When read and heard as a series of syllables it changes and social meanings fade away. The meaning is what you experience in a new way inside yourself.

The effects or states it produces in you are what's important in this article. So let's play with you saying your name for a change.

Using your name for a change
Explore as much as you can, by saying your name as if it were the first time you'd heard the word or read the syllables that make it. For this exercise only, of course.
  • Relax and sit comfortably.
  • Remember hearing your name spoken by someone you know well.
  • Be aware of any feelings you have, when they say your name with a certain emphasis and loudness.
  • As you reproduce or imagine those things now, you are creating sounds within yourself.
  • Now say your name to yourself using your inner voice or dialogue.
  • Change the emphasis, the volume - how loud or quiet it is and notice the different feelings within yourself.
Is this interesting? Is it revealing new things and making you more curious?

How far can we take this?
Your name and statements of self worth you repeat to yourself (via your inner dialogue) are the powerful mantras you carry daily. Syllables or mantras can be more personal than an adjective you use to describe yourself and maybe more powerful. Why? When you repeat a mantra with intention and relaxation you experience it's effects more fully. How many of us do that with adjectives or nouns that describe us?

The following exercise uses your internal voice or inner dialogue. Remember to be seated and comfortable. If at anytime you are less than comfortable, stop, do something else and return to this again later.

Say the syllables or words continuously until you are content. With eyes closed you'll be aware of more. Avoid any personal, logical, social memories or images connected with a word. Simply repeat the syllables. You want to enjoy everything you can experience directly from saying the syllables.

From an adjective or a noun, into a syllable or a sound, all inside you
Read through the exercise and be familiar with it.
Choose a word that makes you feel really great. For those of you who don't find a word easily, be daring. No one ever has to know what words you choose. Be wild and imaginative. Provoke a response from yourself that pleases and surprises you.
  • Pick a word or two that instantly create a wonderful feeling.
  • Sit down with both feet on the floor, back straight and comfortable.
  • Relax. Take your time and relax as deeply as you can.
  • Say the word or syllables to yourself as you normally would. Do this internally using your inner dialogue.
  • Notice whatever you notice.
  • Say the syllables or words with increased volume and at a rhythm that feels good to you, whereby you remain relaxed and focused.
  • What are you noticing?
  • Say the syllables or words with a direction going out infront of you.
  • After a period, as you say them send them in different directions and just be aware.
  • Say the syllables or words so they are in your space all around you.
  • Explore this to find what volume, rhythm is best for you.

When you're happy to stop, do so. Sit comfortably and stretch, move about gently. Focus again on the physical place around you. Make a cup of tea, have a snack and move around.
You may like to write your insights, feelings and discoveries on paper or pc.

I strongly recommend enjoying periods each day in exploring your internal sounds and their positive effects. I always remember a friend saying to me: 'You never know what benefits you'll get until you go in and find out.'

Please let me know what your experiences are.

Thanks for reading.

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