Using a Mantra to Focus the Mind

I’m assisting in a class called Beyond Limits class at the Center for Spiritual Living. This week, among other things, we talked about mantras as an option for meditating. A mantra is a repeated phrase that helps focus and occupy the mind. I like to use a mala, a string of prayer beads, because it also occupies my hands. An east-Indian mala has 108 beads. Twice the number in a rosary.mantra mala

I love repeat a mantra in my mind as I fall asleep. And I especially like it for getting BACK to sleep after the common 3am wake-up. The mantra focuses my mind on a positive phrase and feeling, the mala beads get me in my body and out of my 3am thinking brain. And the repetitive nature of the mantra often lulls me to sleep in that positive frame of mind.

According to Wikipedia, a mantra “is a sacred utterance, a numinous sound, a syllable, word or phonemes, or group of words in Sanskrit believed by practitioners to have psychological and spiritual powers. A mantra may or may not have syntactic structure or literal meaning.

How do you choose a mantra?

god lightTraditionally, you get one from a spiritual teacher. If you don’t have one of those, then find one you like.

If you tend to be stuck in being responsible, sometimes overly-serious, choose a mantra for Joy. Sort of like the song “Don’t worry. Be happy.” But I like to make it completely positive, and telling myself “Don’t worry.” might not have the desired effect. So perhaps, “Joy” or “Playful” or any word that makes you gently smile.

If you want to overcome an obstacle, you can chant Om Gum Ganapata Yei Namaha.

Peace doveFor Peace, you could chant Om shanti om.

If you want more abundance, you can chant the name of Lakshmi, the Hindu god of abundance. You could think of Hindu gods like patron saints. Om Shrim Maha Lakshmi Yei Namaha

Here’s one source with a list of sanskrit mantras and their meanings. See if you find one that you like. As Americans, we like to sample things. Go ahead. And once you find one you really like, stick with it. That’s the traditional way. Discover new layers of depth and insight with that mantra over time.


How About You?

Do you use a repetitive phrase or mantra in your meditation? Do you have a favorite? Do you change them up or stay with one over time?