A mantra is a phrase or two-syllable word or non-word. The simplest mantra is comprised of any two vowel sounds that are the same or different repeated in the mind silently with the breath consonants of ‘s’ and ‘h’. For example sah hah. The first sound is heard on the in breath, hence the consonant ‘s’ the sound of incoming breath. The second sound is heard on the out breath ‘h’, the sound of the out breath. This kind of mantra has no obvious meaning in the way that sounds that make up words belonging to a recognised language are meaningful. When the sounds are related to the Chakras there is a vibrational inference which can be represented in normal language mantras or affirmations, but still that meaning is not obvious to the mind. The purpose of the mantra is to provide a focus for the mind so that all noise or chatter in the mind can be ignored. When this noise is ignored it begins to reduce in intensity and gradually with the practice of mantra meditation the mind can become very quiet and peaceful. Mantras without obvious meanings serve well as they incur minimal associations for the mind to be stimulated by.
However there is a way in which we can use meaningful phrases or words as mantras. Care is needed in the selection of words to be used as the mind becomes very focused on the word its meaning and associations. For instance meditation on the word ‘banana’ could make us hungry or sick depending on the individual response to the thought of ‘banana’.
Useful words or phrases are ones that have spiritually uplifting ideas. Especially good are ones that are difficult to fully comprehend or ‘feel’. It is often said that human consciousness at its peak is thought to be immersed in a state of pure unconditional love, something that many mothers experience for their babies. It is a prosurvival program hardwired into the mother. The statement ‘I am Love’ is therefore a mantra we could use to draw our minds towards that state. We might not be able to ‘feel’ it when we first contemplate it. Indeed we may even reject the thought because of internal dissonance, or the difference between what we think about our selves and what the mantra is saying. Once in a class some years ago a woman with a poor opinion of herself found at first that she was changing the mantra to ‘I am shit’. There were tears pouring down her face as she persevered pushing away the negative statement until she could hold on to the “ I am Love ‘. Not long after that some very nice changes came into her life.
It is useful to experiment with different mantras that you can think of. Some people use affirmations in this way. Arrange the syllables of the mantra around the breath in a way that is comfortable for you e.g In breath ‘I am’, followed by out breath ‘Love’. The outbreath is always a release like a sigh, and should be as smooth as possible.