Varying meditation traditions make use of mantras as a way to keep the mind focused on a central point, and to have something to return to when the train of thought becomes alluring enough to lead you astray. I often find mantra useful when my mind is particularly busy, which can be often, as I live in a city full of hustle and bustle. Truth be told, our modern lives are busy in general, and as we are constantly on the go, it’s no surprise that sometimes it can be a little bit extra challenging to settle into stillness. The good news is that with continued practice, the transition becomes easier.
A mantra is a word or phrase that you repeat silently, within your own mind, as you are sitting for meditation. There aren’t really rules to how you can do this, or the word/phrase that you use, which sometimes can add an element of fun to your practice. I occasionally make up my own mantras, or use time-tested powerful ones like ‘om’. Other days, when I am perhaps recognizing that I am being too hard on myself, it can be nice to simply repeat ‘I love you’ or ‘thank you’ to shift into gratitude. On a more basic level, my go-to is often just ‘inhale, exhale’. I find that this is what I always return to when nothing else is working, and on the days when I am finding it particularly difficult to simply sit and watch my thoughts. The use of mantra is an ancient tradition which can be a secret in your meditation toolkit, it can create a sense of ease when sitting in your practice, and when you are just starting out, it can help to provide a sense of relief about approaching this new discipline.