Many of us have heard that mediation is a great way to quiet the mind and help manage stress in our lives. Unfortunately, not many people have the patience or attention span to sit quietly and reflect from within. This makes it hard for people to think about a mediation practice and how to start the process. Thankfully, there is a technique called Mantra.
Mantra is a word or something smaller, such as a sound or syllable, that has meaning to the person saying or repeating it. While saying a Mantra, it is usually used in a repetitious way, which is called Japa. Mantras could consist of the practitioner paying tribute to a god or goddess, but it does not have to be. It could also be a word, saying or phrase that helps the person concentrate on their own journey and what they might want within it. A mantra can be spoken out loud or a thought in the mind.
During a mantra meditation, the practitioner would repeat the mantra multiple times. Usually, a mantra is repeated 108 times. I know you are thinking, “how many of us can count and speak at the same time?” The use of mala beads can help the counting process while you say the mantra or think it. Mala beads can be a long necklace with 108 beads around it. Each time you say your Mantra, your pointer finger and thumb would be placed on one bead. As you continue, the pointer and thumb work their way around the beads, until you are back at the start.
Being someone who has a sporadic mediation practice, I decided to try a mantra meditation. To help with my counting, I used a set of mala beads. I chose a mantra that meant something to me and would help me manifest certain qualities I want to emphasize in my life. This mantra was, “Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha, which Mary Grace Garis defines in short as, “Salutations to the remover of obstacles.” For the next 2 weeks, I would be indulging myself in a mantra practice. When I started, I felt no different. It felt like I was doing one extra thing in my day. By the end of week one, I had already observed: I was more comfortable saying the mantra, I could notice my breathing patterns, and I felt less anxious. By the end of two weeks, I had developed a strong comfortable seat and was using my mantra meditation 2-3 times a day! It felt so good to continue the meditation, I just kept going! I will keep this mantra meditation moving forward, as the benefits are priceless. Have I noticed anything in relation to overcoming obstacles? I first thought, not that I am aware of. Then I realized, starting this meditation in the first place, was a large obstacle to overcome.
Ashley Hackett is a certified Hot Yoga Educator and 200hr ERYT and is currently enrolled in the Boundless Yoga Studio 300 hr Yoga Educators Advanced Studies Program. She balances her love of heat building practices with her meditation, yin yoga and restorative yoga sessions.
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