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Does your mind race all day when you’re at work or when you interact with others?
Does it make it hard for you to fall asleep… and then fill your nights with restless dreaming?
Thought is good, it can be productive and lead to valuable introspection. But when the mind races out of control, in a way the Buddhists refer to as a “monkey mind,” it can control your life. You may find it difficult to concentrate, to think, to make decisions and, especially, to slow down enough to rest or sleep.
A racing mind also contributes to anxiety because one tends to worry too much about all the thoughts. However, you cannot stop a racing mind by focusing on that racing mind. Instead it must be quieted through meditation. And once you help your mind and body relax, release tension, return to equilibrium and rejuvenate your entire being — you’ll be able to direct the path you want in life…
Meditation has generally referred to those practices that involve the focusing of attention without thought or analysis. Such practices can lead to altered states of consciousness, enlightenment, awareness, insight or simply deep relaxation.
Many have heard of meditation and these days more and more people are trying it as various forms of meditation have reached the mainstream. Today, a word like “mindfulness” is common and often synonymous with the term “meditation” Itself. Yet, there are dozens of forms of meditation, each with their own practices and goals.
In the West, many meditative practices have been dislodged from their spiritual paths and co-opted for simple wellness therapies. Yoga, too, is a deep spiritual tradition that for many in the West is seen mostly as a relaxation activity. But there is more to meditation than relaxation.
Two basic types of meditation
Insight Meditation is known as Vipassana (literally, “to see things as they are”). As an ancient Indian practice that aims to transform the self through self-observation, Vipassana can help you know yourself better through self-discovery and the realization of your own self-imposed suffering. According to a main ideology of Vipassana, your happiness comes from within and the external world need not be manipulated to find it.
Mindfulness is a practice that is in vogue in the West today that originates with the Indian Vipassana tradition, though today the practices are quite far apart in purpose. Mindfulness practice helps you become aware of your own breathing, thoughts, and helps you to focus. Today, Mindfulness has become a common tool in Western psychotherapy, used mostly to help people live in the moment, observe in the moment, and thus quiet their minds.
Mantra’s in meditation
One of the things missing from mainstream Western meditation practices is the use of Mantra (power phrases). Mantras are most widely associated with Hindu and Buddhist religious practices and are chants of short phrases that are infused with intention and energy. The repeated recitation of these chant-phrases generate powerful sound waves that do much to center your energy, heighten your mental state of awareness, promote healing, expand creativity, spur insight and engender spiritual growth.
Experience has shown that mantras “work best” (so to speak) when certain boundaries are placed on them. Such as repeating the mantra a certain number of times per day; reciting the mantra at specific times each day; reciting the mantra in a specific location; including physical objects such as beads, rosaries, statues, etc. as physical manifestations of the mantra or the practice of reciting mantras.
One of the best general mantras is known as the Universal Mantra, “Baba Nam Kevalam.” In Sanskrit, “Baba” (“beloved”), Nam (“name), and Kevalam (“only”) refers to “only the name of the beloved” or more globally as, “Love is all there is.” Indeed love is everywhere and in all good things.
Here are several other very powerful mantras that can help you along your path:
Healing Mantra of the Medicine Buddha
“Tayatha Om Bhaishajye Bhaishajye Mahabhaishajye Taja Samudgate Svaha”
Mantra for Developing Compassion and Protection from all Fears
“Om Tare Tuttare Ture Svaha”
Mantra of Shakyamuni Buddha for Developing Morality, Meditation and Wisdom:
“Om Muni Muni Mahamunaye Svaha.”
Mantra for Healing Misunderstandings in a Relationship:
“Om Sharavana Bhavaya Namaha.”
When you are meditating either with Vipassana or Mindfulness, it is often difficult to “quiet the monkey mind.” When the mind races, it is difficult to relax, to let go, to focus attention, to be “in the moment.” When this happens, employing mantras like “Baba Nam Kevalam,” or any of the above, can help focus the mind and push out other thoughts. Including mantra back into mainstream meditation can help accelerate the meditative state, which is what you are seeking… whether just to relax, sleep or to achieve enlightenment.
Practice must reflect goals
Does it matter which meditation you practice? Well, that depends on your goal. If you are using meditation to relax or reduce stress, then mindfulness might be better than Vipassana. If you want to enter altered states of consciousness, then another form, like Jappa is a good choice. When trying to build energy, perhaps Chakra meditation is best. In other words, before meditating on a certain day try to identify your goal in meditating. Whatever the goal, the meditation practice must be suited to it.
I have previously written a nice overview article on various types of meditation. A look may help identify different types you are looking for.
And with the help of Monk Yunrou, I shared an article with video on a simple “Rejuvenating Meditation” for energizing yourself after travel or strenuous work.
Benefits of continuous practice
In the end, there are many terrific benefits to all forms of meditation; as long as the practice is scheduled and continuous. In fact, research has discovered time and again how regular meditation can change a person’s DNA, increase brain density, relieve anxiety and depressions, clear the mind, relax the body and increase neuronal connections. In all cases, meditation is a powerful tool to help boost your mental, emotional, physiological and spiritual health.