What is a Mantra?
"The word mantra can be broken down into two parts: 'man,' which means mind, and 'tra,' which means transport or vehicle. In other words, a mantra is an instrument of the mind—a powerful sound or vibration that you can use to enter a deep state of meditation." -The Chopra Center
Although we know that meditation is a powerful tool and an ancient medicine for the mind and soul, we may find ourselves cringing away from the idea or even avoiding it all together. Some of us may have a decent practice going, but find ourselves 'missing' days or weeks without it, finding it hard to keep a consistent practice. Or maybe you have a solid practice going and already feel the benefits from the practice in your everyday life.
What many of us don't realize is this: oftentimes we are without knowing, meditating. When we are focused on an idea, or stuck on a thought - that is that you are meditating on it. For many of us it could be catching ourselves with negative self-talk, of constantly hearing the inner critic, or of fantasizing about what we want or don't have. These are the thoughts that we choose to plant within our minds. What we know as mindfulness meditation is bringing awareness to what seeds we are planting and of re-fertilizing the grounds in which we plant these seeds. The ancient wisdom of meditation teaches us to tune in to this garden of the mind - to be aware of the thought-seeds we are planting.
If we are always filling our minds with negativity, worry, fear, etc., we are filling ourselves with these ideas. If we are reaching for the positive thoughts, we're one step closer to that light and may also be attracting the good. As the mystic philosopher Lao Tzu once said, "as we think, so we become". When we begin to open up to this deep knowingness, we start to see how powerful the mind truly is.
"Like a seed planted with the intention of blossoming into a beautiful perennial, a mantra can be thought of as a seed for energizing an intention. Much in the same way you plant a flower seed, you plant mantras in the fertile soil of practice. You nurture them and over time they bear the fruit of your intention." - The Chopra Center
Mantras help us to condition ourselves into filling our minds with the positive. It's like the placebo effect - this is when a doctor prescribes a patient a drug that has no real active ingredients, but they give it to them to feel as though they are being healed. "When people already know what the result of taking a pill is supposed to be, they might unconsciously change their reaction to bring about that result, or simply report that result as the outcome even if it wasn't" (1). Recent studies have been explaining the psychological and physiological understanding of this effect and it demonstrates that the stimulus is the medicine. I see it as a way of tuning in to the flow - it's working with the Law of Attraction.
So mantras can also be seen as this stimulus - the medicine. If we tell ourselves regularly that we are going to succeed, that we are beautiful, that we are okay.. we begin to condition our minds into believing that as the truth. We then move forth with this positive, higher vibration and flow with all that is and all that is to be. From personal experience, I can safely say that I believe in this idea because I have seen it change many aspects within myself and my surroundings. But with this being said, I recognize that there are times when we are down or can't get out of negative feels. So on the other hand, don't be upset with yourself for not being able to stay positive all the time - I would even say it's a bit unnatural if we didn't have challenging times. We are just meant to do our best always, and some days our 'best' could be different from that of yesterday or tomorrow. No expectations, no judgement.
We can also see mantras as a simple reminder. To remind ourselves of the possibilities, of the things we already have to be grateful for, or for setting intentions. It is a practice that is so simple yet so powerful.
"I cannot expect victory while planning for defeat."
Food for thought to leave you with: We cannot expect victory while planning for defeat. This is all that we summed up - just how powerful the mind is. Oftentimes we are expecting success, expecting something but that in itself is the plan for defeat. Even though you cannot control everything that happens, you can control your attitude toward what happens. And in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you. Awareness is the first and greatest step. 'Expect' victory by planning for victory! Allow yourself to open up to this practice of planting the seeds you want to fill yourself with. You are the commander~
Leave a comment or leave us any personal insights you have with meditation or mantras!
With light and all the love,
Photo by soul sister Silvia Yom