How to use a Mantra

Mantra Meditation expands the conscious part of the mind

Mantra: Crossing the ocean of the Mind

This article is an overview of Mantra Yoga, the science of sound and explains how a mantra takes the practitioner through the different layers of the mind.

Mantra Yoga, a branch of Tantra, is the science of sound. This sophisticated though esoteric science presents a practical aspect of understanding our world, its evolution and its structure. What sets it apart from most metaphysical philosophies is that it traces out not only the path of evolution from the subtle to the gross but also the process of dissolution i.e. the path travelling back from the gross to the subtle most, leading ultimately to the deep profound silence or the highest within.

For example: Imagine you are walking along a river, slowly returning to its source. 

What happens as you follow a large winding river? Initially the river is quiet. No sound. But as you continue back tracking, you will leave the plains and come to mountainous landscape. Here the river crashes down on rocks below; the river is loud.

What happens as you continue right up to the source? At the source the river springs forth from the depths of the earth, silently. 

So it is with mantra meditation. The mantra is the sound we follow back to the source. Ultimately all seekers seek to return to the source. Mantra Yoga, the science of sound is the "highway" to the source. Following the sound one returns to That, from which all manifests.

 

Mantra Meditation and the Mind

The mantra takes us through the layers of the mind. In Yoga psychology the three levels of consciousness are:

  1. Vaisvanara: the conscious mind is also called the waking state
  2. Taijasa: the active unconscious mind or subconscious mind is also called the dream state
  3. Prajna: the latent unconscious mind or unconscious mind is also called the deep sleep state

The thoughts of the mind are like the waves of the river. The deeper feelings and emotions are the currents in the river. And the ancient impressions of the mind may be likened to the riverbed.

Mantra Meditation and the other shore

Consider the mantra to be a boat that takes you across the ocean of thoughts and ideas. It guides you through the storms of random images, deep feelings and old memories. It provides you with safe passage across the treacherous sea of ancient impressions. You have reached the other shore. Your mantra has accomplished its task.

An ideal mantra meditation session begins with begins with simple stretching exercises. One follows this with relaxation and a few breathing exercises. These take the practitioner gently from the external world to the subtle inner most realm of the mind.

At first the practitioner may encounter peace and quiet. He has successfully calmed down his consciousness mind.


Expansion, Contraction and One-pointedness

The mantra leads you through all the impressions, in the mind. These may be memories, feelings, thoughts and random images that you have stored in the mind. Many of these impressions are unpleasant to deal with, some fears are deep rooted, some desires are over whelming and some expectations are too strong for you to accept. How can we deal with such difficult situations in mantra meditation?

To understand how to use a mantra, it is necessary to understand the the difference between Expansion, contraction and one-pointedness of the mind.

Mantra Meditation and Expansion

It is at this stage that the path of mantra meditation gets more challenging. As the mantra travels deeper the practitioner may encounter thoughts, images, emotions and desires that disturb the practitioner. These random objects of the mind, also called mind-stuff may pose serious difficulties to a practitioner unfamiliar to mantra meditation.

Practitioners may question their ability and worthiness to practice mantra meditation. One may not wish to continue to examine the objects in the mind field. This is definitely a deeper level of the mind and it brings up down of our unacceptable qualities and therefore it is uncomfortable.

Mantra Meditation and the Contraction

At this stage most practitioners begin to believe that their meditation was "bad". A mistake that is commonly made by practitioners of mantra meditation is using the mantra to push away thoughts, images, fears, desires and emotions like anger. This is not one-pointedness. It may appear to be so, but in fact has the opposite effect.  

This can be easily avoided with the basic understanding of mantra science.

Mantra Meditation and One pointedness

This is a crucial stage in the practice of mantra meditation. If the practitioner continues and goes through this difficult stage he goes beyond the conscious mind. The mantra is his guide and leads him through the random images, thoughts, desires and emotions of the mind field. This is true one-pointedness and leads to expansion.

Using a mantra is like driving a car. You change gears, you accelerate, you may put on the air conditioning, you adjust the wipers, may be even clean the windscreen. You may talk to your companions in the car, gesture angrily at road hogs and other fast or aggressive drivers, admire the scenery, sometimes even answer your mobile but while you may be doing all this you are essentially paying attention to the road. So with the mantra, you may let the thoughts, images, emotions and desires float through the stream of the mind, while paying attention to the mantra.

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Comments:

raj from Mumbai:
superb..have so far never come across such a lucid explanation, but the illustration is some what confusing..

Krish from Germany:
The driving car example is amazing and spot on. So much action may happen around the driver who may watch and occasionally respond, but if he takes his hand off the wheel or loses attention on the driving, all goes hell.

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