It’s not unusual for me to have a second thought about something I send out. Often it’s a clarification or an additional point I wish I’d made – or an aesthetic turn of phrase I wish I’d used. Typically, after some regret, I let go.
This morning I awoke with three substantive points I’d like to add about mantra practice. And I decided, in this case, to act.
Mantra as first aid: When I notice that I’m caught up in swirl of suffering stories that evoke fear, shame or resentment, I congratulate the awareness, breathe compassion to my suffering, and use a mantra to re-orient the mind. I stay with the mantra as long as needed; then move on with my day.
Note: the mantra helps us disengage from negative thinking. Generally, this is not the time to debate with our negative patterns.
Mantra as formal practice: When I use a mantra as an aid in formal meditation, I may begin by saying (or singing) it aloud or at a moderate-to-high internal volume, to match or slightly exceed the level of chatter in the mind. I give myself a clear invitation to attend to the mantra.
As the practice unfolds, I allow the mantra to grow gradually quieter. This helps me move toward the deeper quiet of inner spaciousness. There are times when the mantra goes silent, mirroring a silence inside. Inevitably, I pick up a distraction, and, when I notice the distraction, I begin with the mantra again at a level that slightly exceeds the level of the distraction. Then, I move again toward the quiet.
Please check out the Richard Moss videos, referenced yesterday, for an excellent tutorial on using mantra in formal practice. www.richardmoss.com
Mantra and engagement with life: Mantras are tools – used as needed – to help us disengage from negative narratives that create suffering, so that we can re-engage with life with an open heart and a spacious, creative mind. Mantras are not meant for permanent refuge or escape from life. The goal, always, is to be fully present – right here, right now, embodied.
May we be happy.
May we be well.
May we be at peace.
May we be fully alive.