Meditation is hard. At least for me. My overactive mind is so used to jumping on a bouncy castle of cognition that its a struggle to ground and quiet my thoughts. This is why I find that I need to concentrate on something while practicing meditation. When I first started my 30 Day Meditation Challenge, I brought my attention solely to my breathing. I would focus on my belly rising and falling as well as follow my breath as it moved in and out of my lungs. A Zen Buddhist Monk in Japan taught me to concentrate on the sensation of breath in my nasal passages as he said it had a lot of sensitive nerves there. But sometimes this is not even enough. I still found my mind wandering – and not just a short meander before I brought my attention back, but a full on gallop away with myself.
Luckily, the universe’s energy wants me to settle down and so I happened to be listing to CBC during a special they had on meditation. Here a meditation expert and author on the subject recommended using the power of mantra. He explained that it is easier to concentrate when you are repeating a word to yourself over and over rhythmically to focus your attention. Mantras have been used in Eastern Mediation (with the classic Ooooommm) for centuries, but he recommended the word “Maranatha”. Apparently it is not important what work it is, but its best to use a non-English word or one that you have no preexisting perceptions about. The most important thing is to stick with the same word so it becomes familiar and easily built into habit. Maranatha is a Christian Aramaic word meaning “Come Lord” and while I do not subscribe to any particular faith, I thought I’d adopt it. While in Ayurveda I have learned that there are different chants you can use – Om being one of them, they tend to be one syllable and I liked the idea of a longer, musical mantra.
Since starting to use it, I have found it to be helpful. I say it once on an inhale and once on an exhale. This makes my breaths very gradual and drawn out. I read online that you should do the “Ma-ra” on an inhale and the “na-tha” on the exhale, but I found it most relaxing this way. So, if you also have a busy body mind and find meditation difficult, try picking out a mantra for size. While it hasn’t completely stopped my thoughts from running away with me, its got them down to a light stroll.
Here are some other mantra examples I found on Finer Minds.com – while some are in English, there’s a nice mix from different cultures. Plus, while the guest on CBC said not to use English, its obviously working for some, as they are cited below.
- “Aum” – an oldie but a goodie, you really can’t mess this one up too badly. The “Om” is the sacred sound of Hinduism and is said to mean, variously: It Is, Will Be or To Become.
- “Om Mani Padme Hum” – this one’s from Tibet and it means, roughly, “Hail the Jewel in the Lotus.” The jewel in this case is the Buddha of Compassion.
- “Namo AmitaBha” – Homage to the Buddha of boundless light.
- “I am that I am” – This is one of the Hebrew Torah’s most famous lines, and it was God’s answer to Moses when Moses asked for his name.
- “Ham-Sah” – The Hindu variant, meaning I am THAT.
- “I love you, I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank You” – Ho’oponopono (Hawaiian) Mantra.