Thursday, September 24, 2009

A long time ago, someone presented me with the concept of a mantra. I realize that many learned people can take the word 'mantra' back to its etymology, or at least find some expert to share an authoritative understanding on what a mantra is. From some traditions the mantra involves using a sound that helps someone focus their body's energy. I was also told that a mantra can help to keep the head clear while sitting, while breathing.

The first mantra many people hear of or learn about is the word "Om." This is a Sanskrit word, and was described to me as be "the primordial sound of the Universe" which sounds mystical enough for me. I see many people walking around with these symbols on their necklaces. I asked a woman, and she told me that it is the symbol for the Sanskrit word "Om". I smiled at her politely, and told her that "Om is where the 'eart is." I am not much of a mystic. I believe my few experiences with meditation proved that -absent any mystical pretexts- it is a very practical endeavour.

When meditation was studied, many aspects were reviewed. Blood pressure was lowered. Chance for stroke was lowered, and heart attack risk dropped. Of course, I have a friend who used to b a boxer. He apparently had issues controlling his temper in the past. He joined a program that got him on a machine to measure his stress levels, and played soothing tones when optimal levels of calm was achieved. Apparently using a basic behaviour modification model, he accomplished levels of calm and peace that others seek out in meditation classes with incense, discussions about energies, and chakras.

Indeed, researchers in biofeedback labs no little if anything about chakras, about extending your energy to flow from the Universe, and filter into the ground. They rarely would suggest the act of burning incense hoping to add to the biofeedback experience. With stated goals and projected results, biofeedback seemed to want to minimize the distractions that these mystical models provided. If I burn incense, perhaps I like the smell. If I put a mandala on my wall, maybe mandalas look nice. If I utilize a mantra, possibly I find focusing -on a sound, word, or sentence- I can stay on track in a meditation. Perhaps the mantra itself provides meaning for me.

Avoiding the primordial sound of the Universe, I came up with my own mantra. Without trying to ascribe any metaphysical significance, I felt inspired by a phrase from the Bible. The mantra I picked -and I used this one about two years ago- was the sentence "The truth shall set you free."
I needed a focusing mantra. I have no chakras to align, no auras to fix. My third eye is best left shut. So, I avoid the lure of Latin. "Veritas Liberabit Vos" sounds very beautiful, and certainly carries the same message as the English sentence. For my purpose, I need my mantra in English. This phrase I would say on every out-breath.
I find this mantra truly focuses me. In time, my perspective on what I believe starts to change. Just like my friend in his biofeedback clinic, I find my calm, and achieve new levels of efficiency. I live well,communicate better, and live to greater purpose.

Many of the books I read in the 1980's suggested that meditating to achieve those things would only sells the act of meditation short. I do not know that. But I do know many folk say to me "bring the body, and the mind will follow." I come to trust the experiences of others as guides. I learn from taking the actions I am shown. I have accomplished little by trying to change my motivations. If meditation has greater rewards, then I will find out by doing it, not by shaming myself for my failed enlightenment.

I thank you for reading.


Cheddarina said...

Good article....

Meditation is very good to relieve stress for me.... but dont have time to do it recently... too poor

bw said...

"bring the body, and the mind will follow"

It could also be "bring the mind and the body will follow". I am intrigued by the power meditation that I contemplated to do yoga at a yoga place near our house but my Indian friend cautioned me to do the right kind of yoga and it scared me a bit :)

Keith said...

BW, sadly for me, I must start with the body. Spiritual practice so often begins with the actions first. In fact many spiritual teachers initiate their students not with learning, but with action.

It is in the action, that the adept seems to develop understanding...

Lots of learning not backed up by action always got me confused. Always, good behaviour, regardless my learning brings me closer to understanding

LZ said...

*lz likes this post.

levian said...

good thoughts! i believe in the part that our mind guides our body. it worked for me, we are who we "think" we are. :)