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Mantra Meditation: A Non-addictive Treatment For Anxiety and Depression
In this blog we’ll answer these questions and more: “What is meditation?” “What is the easiest way to meditate? “What type of meditation is most important in Ayurveda?"
What is Meditation?
“Harnessing the power of the mind can be more effective than the drugs you have been programmed to believe you need.” Bruce Lipton, PH.D
Meditation is simply the process of putting your full attention, your concentration, on whatever object you have chosen.
That object could be something you can see, like a cloud or a candle flame, or something you can hear, like the sound of crickets or a mantra, or something you can do, like walking or breathing. In the West, thousands practice moving meditations like Yoga and Chi Gong. Others prefer a Zen style mediation... simply sitting, watching the thoughts come and go.
Meditation is Ayurveda’s main tool for healing the mind. It takes us out of our thinking mind (the worries and hurries) and puts us into a happier place, a place of peacefulness and calm, a place where we can watch thoughts come and go like clouds in the sky. But how do we get there?
All meditation starts with mindfulness...bringing your attention fully into the present moment. For example, mindful eating means giving your full attention to every bite of food...its texture, smell and taste. Is it spicy or bland? Hot or cold? Sour or sweet?
Mindful breathing is perhaps the simplest meditation, as simple as counting to two. Close your eyes and concentrate on the cool air coming in with each inhalation (One) and going out with each expiration (Two).
Another technique is to combine an intention with the breath. With each breath, repeat mentally, "I am breathing in peacefulness, and breathing out calm."
The purpose of meditation is to help us cultivate a state of higher awareness, a place where healing naturally occurs. If you are new to meditation, start with the following guided meditation on releasing painful feelings. Start feeling better today.
Guided Meditation by Cayenne Graves
Mantra Meditation: The Easiest Way To Meditate For Those Who Can't Sit Still
Of all the different types of meditation, I find mantra meditation, like AUM (OM) chanting, to be the easiest and most effective way to meditate, especially for beginners.
AUM (which became Amen in the Christian tradition) is the most important Sanskrit mantra and the source of all other mantras. Chanting AUM is yogic Xanax.
Over time, chanting AUM and other healing mantras can lead to feelings of happiness and health, peacefulness and calm, oneness and harmony. These good feelings, these positive emotions, are the goal of Ayurvedic Psychology.
Yet AUM is just the beginning. Yoga and Ayurveda have given us an entire treasure trove of mantras for calming the mind and healing the Spirit. Chanting OM Shan-ti Shan-ti Shan-ti-hi, a peace mantra often heard at the end of yoga class, is soothing and calming to the nervous system. In contrast, other sounds, like fingernails scratching on a chalkboard, or the shrill sound of a dentist's drill, make the physical body and the mind cringe.
The power of sound waves can even be used to elevate our mood, without the use of prescription antidepressants.
Chanting 101: The Cosmic AUM
Ready to get started?
Chant along with the author, Dr. G, on YouTube right now. Feel the peacefulness of the AUM vibration. Be sure to combine each AUM with the breath. One big breath = One long AUM.
Other mantras can be added to your collection as you go along.
The three letters of AUM stand for the three levels of consciousness: waking, dreaming and deep sleep. Chanting AUM is the first step toward accessing the fourth state of consciousness, turiya...the state of unbroken awareness (samadhi).
Amazon link: For more on AUM chanting, including how to chant the other chakra mantras, see The Mystical Chakra Mantras.
The Mystical Chakra Mantras
Lokah Samasta: The Ultimate Yogic Prayer
Another Sanskrit mantra that I recommend for daily chanting is Lokah Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu (May All Beings Be Happy and Free). "All Beings" includes the one who is chanting.
This mystical mantra comes to us directly from the Upanishads, the most ancient and mystical teachings from India. It has been called "the ultimate yogic prayer."
Here is the breakdown:
Lokah: a plane of existence. Our current address is Earth Lokah. Astral Lokah is next.
Samasta: all beings everywhere
Sukhino: feelings of happiness, joy and freedom
Bhavantu: to cultivate the feeling of, the bhava
Remember: Energy follows thought. If you don't like what your mind is saying, change the channel. When you put your focus on this mantra, mental worries and hurries can be diminished. You have taken the first step toward cultivating happiness, joy and freedom.
Why Sanskrit Mantra?
Sanskrit is the language of ancient India that is also the language of mantra. The big difference between Sanskrit and modern languages is this: in Sanskrit, the meaning of the words is secondary. The most important thing is the effect of the sound vibration itself. Example: the sound vibrations of AUM chanting actually create feelings of oneness and harmony. Chanting OM Shanti, Shanti Shanti-hi creates feelings of peacefulness. Chanting OM Peace Peace Peace simply does not have the same effect.
Many people are surprised to learn that a simple mantra is the main practice of Transcendental Meditation. A short Sanskrit mantra (based on one's age and gender), is repeated for 20 minutes twice a day. Man-tra means a "tool of the mind."
Healing mantras are especially good for those with ADD, a condition called rajas (hyperactivity) in Ayurveda. Ideally suited for those who can’t sit still, mantra meditation can even be done walking.
Mantra and Ayurveda
Mantra is the main therapy in Ayurveda for treating psychological disorders. In my experience, regularly chanting a mantra can be far more helpful than psychoanalysis. Mantric sound waves change the energetic structure of the mind and dissolve the problem (the worry) on a subconscious level, whereas thinking about the problem can reinforce it.
How do mantras work?
Mantras (and prayers) work on the basis of sound waves and thought waves (intentions). In fact, mantras have been called energized prayers. For example, if you have a relationship problem to overcome, first send out the intention, the thought wave: “I intend to overcome this obstacle.” Then add the appropriate Sanskrit mantra, OM Gam Ganapataye Namaha, the great mantra for overcoming obstacles. The mantra can be translated as "I call upon all the energy of the Universe to help me solve this problem."
How Mantra Tames the Monkey Mind: A Holistic Antidote For ADD
Mantras also work on another level. They give the restless mind something to hold onto.
A great example comes to us in a story from Mahatma Gandhi’s childhood. As a boy, Gandhi had a wise teacher, a family servant named Rhamba. She would remind him that the practice of mantra is much like the training of an elephant. The untrained elephant is naturally scattered and undisciplined. He wanders through the fruit market with a restless trunk. Tables are overturned. Merchants are scattered. Mangoes and coconuts tumble to the ground.
The wise elephant trainer will calm his elephant down by giving him a stick of bamboo…something to hold onto with his trunk.
All settled, he strides through the market like a prince, with a new calmness and serenity.
The untrained mind is just like that untrained elephant...undisciplined and easily distracted. It needs something to hold on to. That something is mantra.
Over time, Sanskrit mantra can gather and focus the mind’s energy like a laser beam, and lead from concentration (dharana) to meditation (dhyana) to samadhi (deepest meditation, or “absorption”).
Mantra is the easiest path to samadhi, though the journey may take some time.
Mantra is the best way to achieve the original aim of yoga: “calming the thought waves of the mind." Mantric chanting is the doorway to the meditative state, a state of peacefulness that is like the unwavering flame of a lamp in a windless space.
In this blog I have covered the basic types of meditation and introduced mantra meditation as the easiest place to start. We learned some of the benefits of AUM chanting and what makes Sanskrit mantra unique. Using YouTube links, we learned how to chant Lokah Samasta, the ultimate yogic prayer, and introduced OM Gam Ganapataye Namaha, the mantra to overcome obstacles, problems.
In my next blog, The Mystical Chakra Mantras, you will learn how to balance your chakras, and balance your life.