...Nature, Consciousness, Allah, Buddha Nature, Creation, Krishna, Brahman, Om, Jesus, God… whatever your belief is, meditation brings you closer to The Divine Ground of Being, to truth, and it closer to you.
I would like to share with you a simple, accessible form of meditation that transcends all religions and dogmas.
Though its origins are Eastern, the practice of mantra meditation, repeating a mantra, called japa in Sanskrit, is common in religions the world over. Repeating the Hail Mary with rosary in hand, chanting “Alahu Akbar” or repeating a piece of any inspiring scripture, are all japa. All that is required to turn this repetition into a healthy mantra meditation practice is a little bit of intention, correct posture and diligence.
Choose Your Mantra
First, we must choose our mantra. The easiest and most effective mantra to start with is your chosen name for God. Common mantras include “Jesus”, “Rama”, “Allah”, or “Om”. Once you have chosen your mantra, it is important never to reveal it to others, lest you lose the reverence for it. (Visit this webpage for help choosing a mantra: https://www.bmcm.org/learn/recommended-mantrams/)
Find the Appropriate Space
Setting aside a special space in your home for meditation is beneficial but not completely necessary. Find a comfortable, quiet place where you can remain undisturbed for at least half an hour. Pick a comfortable chair or create a mat on the floor with blankets and pillows. Light a candle or incense to bring a sense of calm to all your senses.
Assume Proper Posture
When meditating, it is important to keep your spine as straight as possible. You may sit on the floor, lie down or sit in a chair, as long as your back is straight. Keeping the spine erect will fix just enough of your attention on your physical posture to keep you from dozing off. There is no need to assume full lotus posture (if this is available to you, then go for it!). If you choose to sit on the floor cross legged and your knees are above your hips, place a yoga block, pillow or some books under your sits bones until your knees are level or below your hips.
Set a Timer & Begin...
The appropriate duration of a meditation session is 30 minutes. Any longer and you run the risk of zoning out or dozing off. Any shorter and you have not given yourself the chance to enter the meditative state. (I highly recommend the Insight Timer app. It allows you to set a meditation timer with soothing, ambient, background music.)
Close your eyes, relax the body, take a few deep breaths then begin slowly repeating your mantra to yourself silently. Holding each syllable sacred as you focus all of your attention on the words of your mantra, unifying yourself with God, Creation, The Divine Ground, Buddha Nature, or what have you. When we shut out all external noise, suppress all notions of the past or future, we are left only with the present moment. This present moment is where we are able to unify ourselves with truth.
Your mind will inevitably drift away from the task at hand and that is ok. Whenever thoughts enter the mind, acknowledge them then let them go, like clouds floating by in the sky. Be gentle with yourself. Don’t scold or ridicule as thoughts arise, simply acknowledge them, let them go then refocus your attention on repeating your mantra.
“By repeating [the mantra] constantly, a part of the mind gets linked to that. It is like going down into a tunnel with a life-rope tied around the waist and one end of the rope fixed to a peg outside the tunnel.” - Sri Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
The tunnel Satchidananda speaks of can be likened to the tunnel of thoughts and emotions we find ourselves in day after day. The mantra serves as our lifeline to your truth. As long as we hold the mantra close to our hearts, we can pull ourselves out of the tunnel and closer to our True Selves.
For more information on mantra meditation I highly recommend the book Passage Meditation by Eknath Easwaran.