These are my own thoughts on a process and practice for personal growth.
The practice of Mantra chanting as meditation and remedial action for the unresolved conflicts between the Ego-mind and Unconscious Self originated thousands of years in the past. Every tradition has their sacred hymns, songs to the Creator, and the primal sounds of these hymns (Om, Aum, Amen, etc.) are demonstrably the seeds of all language and the root source of creation. The demonstration, however, is not an intellectual exercise of theorizing, designing an experiment to test the theory, collecting and sharing results with a peer group, having the experiment duplicated, and eventually having it become part of the dogma of evidentiary belief, the closest thing to truth that one finds in pure science as understood in the modern world.
Sacred sounds are personal, and their impact on the body, or rather bodies, of the whole person does not occur by taking in sound from outside the self, but rather from recognizing that the self, in all its manifestations is created, sustained, and evolves through vibrational energy. Whether we are talking about string theory, light waves, audio resonance, or gravity, the ability of waves and particles to shift from one to the other forms the basis of energy condensing into matter and dissolving back into pure energy in endless cycles of creation that transcend time, space, and human knowledge. It is perpetual vibration from an unknowable Source that underlies all of creation. It fills and animates every particle of space throughout all of time. Invisible, infinite, eternal, and incomprehensible, it nonetheless shows its effect in everything from massive galactic clusters to the tiniest sub-atomic particles. Existence is the evidence of a Source.
We may never intellectually understand the Source, but there is a way to demonstrate the presence and power of it that requires only a quiet space, a half-hour a day, and the persistence to engage with the vibrations of reality. Meditation and Mantra chanting – both aloud and eventually in complete silence, meaning absent any vocal engagement, is generally safe and when undertaken with an open mind and heart will quickly begin to reveal the hidden power of our connection to the body of the universe, to the ultimate, eternal, and all-encompassing creative engine for life, love, and perfect balance.
Beginning the process is simple to describe. But I don’t want to mislead you. It will challenge you in ways no other activity you have undertaken ever has. And mastery, if it comes at all, will require thousands of repetitions over a long period of time. So why bother? Because after just a few weeks you will notice changes in your body, your thoughts, your relationships to the world, and your understanding of every experience.
Using a tool from the world of business will help to clarify some of the effects. Meditation and chanting will help you to much more quickly determine what is Important and Urgent (Needs to be done and the sooner the better such as fixing a burst water pipe or putting out a raging fire), Important and Not Urgent (Will eventually need to be done, but is a longer and more comprehensive project than the Urgent such as giving up harmful habits like unhealthy eating and avoiding exercise), Not Important but Urgent (These are the daily interruptions that steal time but turn out to be nothing, such as the neighbor who comes over unannounced to complain about the latest bit of political bombast from their favorite radical pundit), Not Important and Not Urgent (These are the time stealers that we create to procrastinate from the Important but Not Urgent. Binge watching a series instead of getting up and exercising or spending time on our meditation and mantra practice is one example).
The ideal balance is when we take care of the Important before it becomes urgent, the unimportant and not urgent is minimized, we create boundaries to reduce the unimportant and urgent, and the net effect is we seldom experience Important and Urgent events because our life is focused on building a deeper connection to the important elements and experiences that last. This doesn’t happen in a day or a month or maybe at all, but we can move closer by beginning to get in touch with the deeper vibrations of the universe.
The process is
1) To have a place and time for meditation that we commit to for 30 minutes every day, either soon after awaking in the morning or just before retiring for the night.
2) Adopt a mantra that becomes your single point of focus and what you return to when your mind begins to wander (And it will, but like a restless child, gently and lovingly bring it back to the mantra for the length of the meditation. Eventually, the mind learns that life is better all around when it sits quietly focused on the mantra).
3) Adopt a shorter form of mantra that you call up whenever you feel out of balance during the day. (A single comforting word holds your attention whenever your mental or nervous process gets overstimulated. This will quickly become automatic after a few weeks of effort). You mantrum can be single word like Peace, Love or a sacred name like Jesus, Ram, Lord, Buddha, etc. Any calming word that you can easily call up in the moment and focus on.
On this point, I’ll give an example: I was having a painful eye exam where intense pressure was being put on my eye using a plastic implement. Every muscle in my body tensed and tears and pain led to an unmanageable urge to blink and fight the eye doctor’s efforts. When I began to focus on my personal mantrum, “Om, Om, Om, Om…,” with all my mental capacity the pain didn’t end, but it moved to the background. Before the mantrum it took nearly ten minutes for the doctor to examine the eye with pressure from a single point. In less than ten minutes he was able to finish the remaining seven while I focused on the mantrum with far less discomfort and resistance.
4) Read inspirational or sacred literature on a daily basis. It can be a paragraph or a page, or more if you have the time. And draw on many sources (poetry, religious texts, inspirational biographies, etc.). You may find other short pieces that can be the basis of future meditations after you have used your personal mantra for several months and begun to feel the benefits of the practice.
5) Associate with others who also have a meditation practice. You’ll be surprised how many there are. Invite others to take up the practice in social settings once a week. This is in addition to your personal daily practice.
6) Don’t be hard on yourself if you miss a day. Just resume as soon as you can. The mind will resist this practice because it wants to be out in the world, taking in what it enjoys and avoiding what is difficult. It is distracted by everything, and this increases when you begin to draw it under your control. It is the Ego fearing its eventual dissolution that causes this. But once you control it, the Ego learns of its connection to Source and the evolutionary change it undergoes with each life cycle. Be patient, kind, and persistent.
As for your personal mantra, some of the most powerful are from the Vedas, ancient Sanskrit texts containing thousands of verses, and are discovered through examination of your Vedic birth chart. You of course may select any mantra from any source, (one teacher I follow recommends the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi) but if you are looking for some guidance, the Vedic birth chart will point to ones that reflect the vibrations of your own creation. Using one of these mantras can strengthen the best energies available to you.
We find this mantra by looking at the exact degree placement of the planets in your chart. There are 108 traditional Vedic mantras for each of the 9 Vedic planets. These have been collected and compiled over the years by many great teachers. I personally like the work of Andrew Foss, PhD. who is one of the founders of the British Association of Vedic Astrology. HIs book Yoga of the Planets: Their Mantras and Philosophy organizes all of the mantras in easily accessible form.
You can also combine the selection of a mantra with a Vedic Astrology reading in order to more deeply know how your personal planets bring opportunities for learning to you over space and time. I will include a mantra as part of any reading. See my services page for contact information.
A final note: While the use of mantra is safe for nearly everyone, these are powerful vibrations that affect the body and nervous system through use. If you are under the care of a mental health practitioner or have been under such care and have ongoing issues, you should consult your caregiver before undertaking ANY mantra practice. Contemplation on a mantra may be helpful in uncovering the root source of nearly any problem. Modifications to alter the energetic strength are possible. Most importantly, approaching the practice with a loving heart, both for yourself and others, is the foundation of a successful practice and increased connection with the creative and healing power of the universe.