What’s Your Mantra?

There are so many mantras to choose from. Should we use one that is in English, Sanskrit, Hebrew, non-verbal language, or shrouded in initiative mystery? I tend to go for the ancient rather than “pop” mantras. They seem sappy to me. But then again, it’s more a matter of vibration than meaning or semantics, and common wisdom is that the more ancient sounds pack more sacred power. However, one long time meditator I know uses acronyms, like “PPM” for of “positive perfect moment” or “NA” (“no ants,” or negative thoughts). They work brilliantly for him. Other people bless the world with loving-kindness mantras in English.

During August, or Elul in the Hebrew or Jewish calendar, introspection is a recommended practice. We turn within and reflect back on the past year, seeking clarity, searching for meaning, and asking for forgiveness for our actions. We resolve to learn from our mistakes. As meditators, we may do this anyway, but now with more intense focus as the clock is ticking to the Jewish New Year. What’s this all got to do with mantra? Because we can take stock, reflecting on what worked, what fell short, and what to do better or more consistently. Re-intensify or start a mantra practice. It suits walks in the park, at the beach, or on your seat. Here are some tips on how to pick a “ripe” mantra, and use it fruitfully:

1.Old but true: If you’ve been initiated into a mantra already, choose to use it, even if you paid a lot of money to get the same secret mantra as everyone else and it has been in mothballs for years. But if it feels like spiritual baggage, find a new one.
2.Go for simplicity: “Om” or some variation on “A-U-M” or “Shalom” are popular. You can pick one from a book or tape, but even better, take a class, consult an experienced teacher, shop around. There’s no rule about using only one mantra.
3.Practice reaps its own rewards: Regularity and frequency will bestow benefits on body, mind, and Spirit. It’s like putting coins in the spiritual bank. It can be done before and after meditation; sing, chant, or say it silently or out loud.
4.Mantra repetition: It’s the hum of Universal Consciousness, a God or good vibration that uplifts us, and the key to drawing us into deeper meditation or connecting us to whatever we are doing. Try walking your dog, writing, doing art, shopping, etc. while allowing the mantra to reverberate softly under your breath. Don’t force it. Say it, re-start it if it slips away, or let it go.

There’s no mystery about why an enlivened or imparted mantra works. Mantras are vibrationally charged to replace “negative” mental tapes and messages, to fill the spaces between words with good energy. Proof is in the practice.