Have you found yourself trying to get started in a meditation practice but endlessly distracted by your to-do list or what to make for dinner? I get it; I've been there too!
When I first started trying to meditate, I would get all set up with a soft cushion, dim lighting, close my eyes, and then my internal dialogue would go into hyperdrive. I would get frustrated and then declare that meditation just wasn't for me and abandon the idea of it for a few months before I started the cycle over again.
What if I told you that it didn't have to be that way? That you could meditate any time and anywhere with just a straightforward tweak to your practice? No need for candles, or a meditation corner, or a totally silent mind.
Are you ready to start a sustainable meditation practice that will leave you calmer, more focused on your goals, and keep you in the present moment long after you are done? Adding a mantra to my meditation changed everything for me, and in this article, I will teach you what a mantra is, how to use one in your daily practice and how to choose the right mantra to amplify your intentions and keep you aligned with your goals.
How is a mantra different from an affirmation or intention?
Did you know that a mantra and an affirmation or intention are actually very different things? Though they tend to be lumped together, they are all separate tools that can help you clear distractions in your life and intentionally focus on the people and things that matter most to you.
An intention is a conscious decision that you make about what you want to work towards or focus on in your life. It is the "why" in your journey and what you aspire to be/do or focus on. When you live with intention, you make conscious decisions about how you want your life to look instead of getting caught in the momentum and circumstances of day-to-day life. The problem is that it can be very easy to get sucked back into the daily grind and forget what you are working towards in the first place. An affirmation is a phrase you can repeat throughout the day to remind yourself of your intentions.
Though a mantra can also remind yourself of your intentions, its true purpose is to help you clear your mind and make it easier to reach a deeper meditation level.
Mantras have been used for thousands of years in yogic and Vedic tradition are influenced by sacred and primal sounds and vibrations. These vibrations resonate and become a part of your energetic body.
Paired with an intention, a mantra can help you cultivate a present lifestyle and mind that helps bring your intentions to life by creating an energetic footprint of your desires.
A mantra can also be used to help you discover your true desires and intentions by helping you reach a place of inner peace and silence that is free from the influences of the outside world.
Put simply, a mantra is a tool that helps you quiet the noise from the outside world and connect with your true self.
How to choose the right mantra for your intentions?
Traditionally used mantras are either said in Sanskrit or are primordial sounds. I've listed some of our favorite mantras below. See which ones stick out to you or elicit a gut reaction and try them on for size. Close your eyes and try silently repeating each one. Let your intuition guide you to the one that resonates the most.
Shanti (Sanskrit for Peace)
Ananda (Sanskrit for Bliss)
Prasada (Sanskrit for Clarity or Grace)
So Hum (I Am That)
Sat Nam (I Am Truth)
"Om" is a sacred and spiritual sound in the Hindu religion. Take a deep breath, let your belly relax completely, and exhale the "Aaaauuuuummmmm." You should feel the sound reverberating from your pelvic floor upward through the crown of the head, filling the body with pulsating energy that simultaneously empowers and radiates tranquility.
How am I supposed to use a mantra?
I find this helpful because I'm not anxious about my timer going off or worried I will fall asleep. Once you reach the end of your mala, your meditation is complete.
If you reach the end of the mala and want to continue, you don't need to worry about a jarring alarm bringing you out of your meditation.
I also love that I can wear my mala beads after my meditation and carry my mantra's energy throughout the day.
That being said, you don't need anything to start with mantra meditation. Once you have chosen your mantra close your eyes and repeat the mantra silently in your mind. If your mind starts to wander (which it will), you return your attention to your manta.
That's it. It sounds too simple to work, but that simplicity is the key to it's success.
One of the most challenging parts of meditation is trying to clear your mind of thoughts. The mantra works because it gives you something simple to focus on, bringing your attention back to the moment when your mind wanders.
You aren't fighting against the thought; you are just directing it. Think of it like giving your conscious mind a toy to distract it when trying to have a visit with your soul.
And there you have it. You now know what a mantra is, how to use mantras in your daily life, and how to choose a mantra that amplifies your intentions and keeps you focused on your goals.
Click this link to learn how mala bead meditation can help make your mantra more effective, or click here to read about the super cool science behind meditation and the measurable changes in your brain that happen when you practice meditation regularly.