If you have swirling whirling thoughts which buzz around you when standing in line, going to bed, preparing for your day… or even during yoga practice consider allowing one of the key components of yoga to redirect the mind for you. The part of the mind that wants to chatter and make you think that remembering exact details about how to connect batteries for a jump-start actually matters when you are currently in a perfectly quiet yoga class and doing downward-facing dog — that part may need something to do.
Mantra: the word comes from the sanskrit “man” – which means “to think” and “tra” designating tools or instruments. So it is, in fact, a tool for thinking. If you go to an ashram to study yoga and go through a process with your guru, it is possible that you will be given a mantra for your use. In some traditions this is chosen for you and may be different from that of others. In some traditions, the mantra you are given is the same as the others in your group. People from many different backgrounds, religions, and philosophies use mantram in a similar way, but how one is chosen can vary. The first way I was taught was to pick a brief phrase or group of words that brought me joy, and use this.
Some people pick words from a poem. Some choose a short prayer or a line from a hymn. Some people look online and find traditional mantras. You can always use a single word like “peace” or “joy.” You can also use a phrase that means absolutely nothing, but brings joy – like supercalifragilisticexpialidocioous. Seriously, anything is okay.
Om Shanti (Peace)
Lokah Samastha Sukino Bhavantu (May all beings be free from suffering)
Soham (I am, or It is I)
Maranatha (Come Lord – Aramaic, traditional Christian Mantra)
For a neat link about the Maranatha Mantra you can go to the link here. I particularly appreciate the audio clip in which how to use the breath is explained. Even when you are just saying the mantra silently in the mind, you can still go slowly and with the breath.
It is good to stay with one specific mantra. If you allow the mind to decide that you are “bored” with that one and need another, this defeats the purpose. Give the mind something to do, which is to say the mantra over and over. This is the talking mind’s task. Then the rest of you can rest.
In the old Celtic legends, they said if you had a fairy cross your path you could throw a handful of salt in front of them. They could not mess with you until they had counted every single grain of salt. I had to laugh when I came across this legend, because it was so obviously about the silliness of the monkey mind, and how to tame it. Some people actually use counting rather than a mantra.
So we finish off the week with this calming work. Find a mantra, see what it is like. If you feel you don’t like it, laugh a little, because that is sort of the point, and then keep going. Let the mind be busy with the mantra. Let the rest of you relax. Before you know it, you’ll have waited for the doctor for 15 minutes without a worry. You’ll have made it through meditation. You’ll have experienced a bit of time without stress and anxiety.
Yoga Pose of the Day: Paschimottanasana – Seated forward bend
Yogic Concept of the Day: Today I will choose a mantra and work with it for the weekend.