While there are many different types of meditation, the end result that we all aim for is the same. And that is of managing to still the mind and to enhance the connection to your inner being, or, in the case of those who wish to, to God.
The mantra is simply a tool that helps us accomplish this? It helps us in our quest to achieve a state of non-thought, and once there, manage to maintain it.
Where does the word, ‘mantra’, come from?
Mantra is a Sanskrit word, and is actually two words co-joined together. These are the word ‘man’, meaning mind, and ‘tra’, meaning instrument. So the literal translation is ‘the instrument of the mind’. Mantras have been used by yogis for thousands of years to assist them to achieve the hallowed state of non-thought.
So how does it work?
The whole purpose of repeating a mantra during meditation is to help you to focus on a single thought or idea. For most of us, thinking about literally nothing is virtually an impossibility – this is something that takes a lot of training.
So repeating a mantra helps us to prevent other distractive thoughts from slipping into our consciousness. Focusing on a single thought is far more simple than trying to focus on nothing at all!
The mantra sets an intention
The mantra has its roots in the basis of all prayers, scriptures, and religious traditions. It can be any words that you choose, although popular phrases such as ‘I am focused’ or ‘I am strong’ are often used. The words are then repeated over and over again within your mind, assisting you towards the state of true non-thought.
How long will it take before I can achieve a state of non-thought?
Well, you might as well ask, how long is a piece of string? Because this is different for everyone. At the very least it will take several months of daily practice to have the desired effect. But don’t give up. Even the most accomplished of yogis continue to improve their skills every single day.
Words of wisdom from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
To understand the true meaning of the mantra during meditation, let’s bow to the esteemed teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
He says that while sound changes in pitch – perhaps loud sound or low sound – the meaning of the sound is the same at every pitch. This might sound confusing at first, but, he says, the whole thing is very simple. It’s an absolutely natural process.
See his explanation for yourself here.
To sum up
In short, simple terms, the mantra is used during meditation to focus the mind. In truth, it’s very rare for our mind to stop buzzing with thoughts, emotions, sound, and outside influences. Even when we sleep our subconscious mind continues to work.
Focusing on a mantra helps us to put aside this frantic input, allowing us to eventually clear the mind completely, allowing true connection with our inner self.