Today, I want to talk about a topic that I first did my research on many years ago when I started to practice meditation. With many years passed, I want to share the knowledge that I have on the topic of meditation mantras. I still remember that there used to be some big and important questions I had in my minded when I was a meditation rookie. I am going to share these questions with you and I will also provide you with answers that are based on my research and my own experience. Let’s jump right into the interesting questions now.
What is a Meditation Mantra?
What are meditation mantras exactly? This is probably one of the most common questions related to meditation. In short, a mantra is a meaningless word, that’s it. Let’s use “so-hum” as the mantra in this example. When you practice mantra meditation, you would want to repeatedly reading in your mind “so-hum-so-hum-so-hum…”.
What’s the Point of Repeating a Mantra in Your Head?
Why would we want to say “so-hum-so-hum-so-hum…” in our head repeatedly? Is it something religion or what? First of all, I want to clarify that I don’t belong to any religion and I am not against religion either. I just want to clarify that meditation is a science-backed activity that has nothing to do with religion although some religions incorporate meditate as part of their recommended daily routines. To understand the reasons of reading a mantra, you have to first understand the big idea about meditation. Meditation is all about giving your mind some rest. Since it is very difficult if not impossible to stop your mind from processing information or thinking, the best we can do is to assign a simple task to our mind to make mind as close to resting as possible. Reading a meaningless mantra repeatedly is a simple and small task that you can assign to your mind to do.
You Don’t Want to Use Meaningful Words for Mantras
Now, by understanding that we are trying make our mind close to resting completely by making it read a mantra repeatedly, we can realize why the mantra has to be a meaningless word. If the mantra has a meaning attached to it, there is a good chance that it will make us think about that meaning and related things when we meditate. That’s certainly not our goal as our goal is to make our mind close to not thinking.
How Many Syllables Do a Mantra Have?
You now know the concept behind mantra meditation, it should be difficult to answer the question of how many syllables should a meditation mantra have. Since we understanding that the only requirement of the mantra is to make it meaningless, it is quite obvious that the number of mantras don’t really matter. A mantra can be as short as one-syllable long and can be as long as hundreds of syllables long. Yet, it seems like the most popular mantras are two-syllable long. And I found it easier to keep the number of syllables shorts. I also use a two-syllable meditation mantra myself.
What are Some Common or Popular Meditation Mantras?
For those of you who don’t want to be creative and come up with your own special mantra, one easy way to pick a mantra is to simply pick one that is popular. From my experience, all mantras work pretty much the same to me, but there will be ones that stick to your memory better than the others. So, eventually, I just use the mantra that sticks to my memory the best and it is probably the one the feels most natural to me. So, here are some very common mantras that you may want to use.
“Om” or “Aum” is a one-syllable mantra that is often used for those of you who like to sync only either the breathing in action or the breathing out action with your mantra reading. For example, you may say “aum” in your mind every time you breath out. More on the method of mantra meditation later in this writing.
“So-hum” or “So-ham” is probably the most popular two-syllable mantra that is used in mantra meditation. “So-hum” is how you usually pronounce the mantra. People often do breath syncing with the mantra by saying “so” when they breath in and saying “hum” when they breath out. Although I don’t like to use breath syncing for my mantra meditation but I do like to use “so-hum” as my mantra a lot.
“Om-Mani-Padme-Hum” and “Namo-AmitaBha” are two multiple-syllable mantras that are made up long time ago. I don’t particular like long mantras as I find it using a little too much of my mind’s power.
There are Some Mantras That Have Meanings
There are actually some popular mantras like “I am that I am” that has meanings. Let’s look at “I am that I am”. It does has meaning but the meaning isn’t that obvious. In theory, it shouldn’t make your mind work too much harder if you use something like this as a mantra. But to me, I find a simple meaningless mantra like “So-hum” to be the most effective.
How to Do Mantra Meditation
Let me now brief explain how you can use a mantra like “so-hum” to practice mantra meditation. First, have yourself set in a quiet place, in a relaxed position. For example, I like to sit on my sofa and have my hands on my laps. Some people like to sit on the floor with legs crossed. Then have your eyes closed. Now, start reading “so-hum-so-hum-so-hum…” in your mind. You can choose to say “so” when you inhale and “hum” when you exhale. I personally don’t like to sync my breath with my mantra reading. Both ways should work well and you should try it yourself and see which one feels more natural to you. During your meditation, you will feel that there are thoughts flowing into your mind and you will lose track of your mantra reading. That’s okay. “Say hi” to the thought and not to think about it and let it pass by. Start reading your mantra again. Keep doing for 10 to 20 minutes and you will have a very very clear mind.
In conclusion, meditation mantra is a meaningless word that you repeatedly read in your mind during your mantra meditation. If you really don’t know what mantra you want to use, just pick a popular one like “so-hum”. All mantras should work roughly the same.