“If there were a little more silence, if we all kept quiet…maybe we could understand something.”
With difficult political and social times, pandemics and the uncertainty of how to even approach this holiday season layered over its normal challenges, finding ways to stay present for family, loved ones and our own physical and mental well being is more important than ever. Under more constant stress our physical stress and tension can mount and our minds seem to go a hundred miles an hour. Finding and taking time to relax the body and gear down the incessant mental chatter in constructive ways is a challenge. Meditation and Yoga give us structure and particular ways to help us get back to our center and ourselves.
There are in the practices of Yoga, Bhuddism and other ancient traditions of healing and higher consciousness innumerable ways to utilize meditation or contemplation to bring powerful caming, healthful and transformation effects. As is so often the case simple is best especially when stress and distractions to our inner peace are greatest. Some of the most important, powerful and simple practice we can do are mantra meditations.
According to Wildmind.org, the word mantra is said to come from a root meaning “that which protects the mind.” In Buddhist and other forms of meditation, many things can be used as objects of concentration — as “mind protectors.”. (3)
Emotions or mind states, simple, actions such as walking, sweeping or cleaning rice, the sensations of breath or other bodily experience are just some of the objects upon which we can focus or contemplate to bring the mind under greater control.
Mantra is most commonly known as being as words or sounds that are repeated in certain ways; inwardly(meditation/contemplation) or outwardly(chants or hymns) to clear and calm mind and emotions as well as generate heightened states of consciousness.
****What follows below is a description of a simple Mantra meditation that uses sound(mantra) in addition to the breath to bring greater calm, focus and stress relief. This simple and profound mantra meditation practice is the So Hum meditation.
In an articles for Yoga Journal, Shiva Rea (4) describes the higher aims of this practice “an opportunity to focus “thinking mind” on the mystery of being and to reflect upon the interdependent nature of all phenomenon revealed by the sages and confirmed by contemporary physics.”.(2)
So Hum is a mantra derived from Sanscrit that represents the sound of the inhale and exhale. Literally it means I am that–I am(So) that(hum)
To practice this simple meditation:
- Sit in a comfortable meditation position. The main prerequisite is that you are comfortable with the spine erect and the body relaxed. The space you are should be free of distractions and allow you to safely take the time you need.
- The mantra So Hum is silently intoned in connection with a natural breath, “remembering or hearing “so” with the inhale, remembering “hum” with the exhale.
- Continue to do this, returning to the breath and mantra if the mind drifts off. You should begin with 3-5 minute sessions and work gradually up to you desired time frame. Discontinue this and any practice if negative effects are experienced.
- As the attention is established on the sounds and breath you can deepen the inquiry to contemplate or reflect on the meaning of the mantra, the source or feeling of the breath in an easy open way if desired.
- Overtime there may be moments of absorption into stillness or expansiveness that come spontaneously. Most find even moments such as these very calming and healing experiences.
- Don’t force the mantra, chase after any experience, or resist other thoughts as these mental struggles are usually unhelpful and can create tension that can lead to headaches or other unpleasant effects.
- Many people report being discouraged that the mind is so busy and troublesome. Don’t be! It is the nature of the mind to think; our meditation practice helps us gain a measure of control and changes our relationship with the mind. Over time and consistent practice the mind will tend to quiet more often and spontaneously.
The guidance of a teacher and your own research can be a important support to help in working through the difficulties and getting the most out of the practice. Of course if negative effects emerge discontinue the practice.
****The information here here is for educational purposes only. When practicing any Yoga or meditation techniques you accept responsibility for all you do and work in accordance with your medical and psychiatric needs and limitations. Read the website disclaimer for more information. I encourage you to seek out instruction and guidance from a teacher as you need answer any questions and to ensure the most positive outcome of this and any practice.
Alan Franzi and Creative Edge Yoga, LLC offers both individual and group Yoga classes in the Guilford, Madison, Branford and New Haven and Woodbridge areas. In addition, I specialize in employing yoga therapy and other powerful energetic, meditative and corrective movement practices that offer a non medical way to help with stress management by mitigating the effects of long term stress, developing physical and mental balance and resolving movement difficulties and chronic pain.
For a free, no-risk consultation on which services may best meet your needs please call me at (203)488-1700.