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3 Meditation Mantras & How to Use Them

In this article, you’ll learn three simple meditation mantras and find out how to use them. This article is highly practical, and you’ll be able to get going with this variety of meditaton straight away.

And at the end of the day, mantra meditation is extraordinarly simple. You don’t need an official course or guru. I’ve been practicing meditation for nearly a decade and can assure you that this is one of the simplest meditations around. Simplicity doesn’t preclude power, however.

In this article, you have everything you need to get started with mantra meditation today.

What is a Mantra? What is its Purpose?

A mantra is a phrase or affirmation that we repeat to ourselves mentally or vocally. Mantra meditation works well as a technique in its own right and as an add-on to others. You can also accompany these phrases with images, movement and rituals.

Mantras appear in many spiritual traditions and have myriad purposes. They’re useful as an object of focus and for deliberately inducing new thoughts and emotions, as well as for practicing devotion and experiencing altered states.

The phrase depends on the style and purpose of the meditation. Sometimes they’re general, like in devotion practices from the spiritual traditions, and other times they’re personalized to the practitioner. But in most styles you should find a collection of phrases that anyone can use.

How To Practice Mantra Meditation

There are several variables involved when it comes to the mantra meditation technique, including the volume of the mantra, whether you repeat it vocally or mentally, the time between repetitions, and object of focus (exactly where you hold your attention from moment to moment). I encourage you to experiment to find what fits you.

First of all, let’s choose a phrase for our meditation. Here are three simple examples:

  • Aaaaahhhhh,
  • Eeeeeeeeee,
  • Ooohhhmm.

I don’t believe they must be personalised to you, especially when you start out. This is just an overcomplication and a means to charge students more. My advice is to focus on doing your meditation practice every day rather than seeking the “perfect” mantra.

Now follow these steps to practice mantra meditation:

  • Sit in one of the three meditation postures, preferably in a distraction-free setting,
  • Follow my steps for perfect posture,
  • Repeat the phrase to yourself every few seconds,
  • Hold the sound of the mantra in your attention, detecting details such as location, intensity, changes, sounds within sounds, and so on,
  • Whenever your attention moves elsewhere, return to your phrase,
  • Repeat for the entire session.

As I said, mantra meditation is simple. These instructions are all you need to get started – don’t overcomplicate it!

You might be wondering why this kind of meditation is powerful, so let’s look at the key points.

The Benefits of Using a Mantra While Meditating

First, mantras can quickly cut through the ordinary mind. Usually our mind is caught up in everyday concerns and runs in circles, jumping between our current situation, our past, and our future. This keeps us in our ordinary, contracted state of consciousness.

Since these phrases occupy our attention, require effort, and are positive, inspiring and devotional, they can open up new parts of ourselves and take us into altered states. For example, I find that self-compassion affirmations help me connect with my deeper, transpersonal self that sees me and loves me unconditionally.

Second, mantras are deeply healing, especially when used for compassion and devotion. They train our mind on something new and slowly replace our usual thought patterns. They help us release and digest our impurities and stored emotions. There is plenty of evidence that suggests they temporarily alter our psychology and behavior after a modest amount of practice.

Third, mantras aid concentration, the common denominator of all meditation practice. Unlike many other practices, they give us a very tangible object of focus that is under our control, and this helps with focus.

The Challenges of Mantra Meditation

One challenge is that the mantras often don’t have the desired effect. We can even experience the opposite of what we intend. Agitation, boredom, and difficult emotions can all come up.

That’s normal, not a sign of failure. The effects of mantra meditation are long-term and general, and we might not experience them on a given day. Think of meditation as training. Mantras retrain your mind, and it takes time.

That said, if you don’t have any connection to your phrase and never seem to glimpse its power, then by all means switch to another. When you find a phrase you love, you’ll know it.

Another obstacle is that the mantra can become monotonous after a lot of repetition, meaning we fall into mindless repetition. Try repeating it steadily, intermittently, and with full attention. It’s best to repeat it a few times every minute, with lots of purpose and presence, than dozens of times with little focus and meaning.

Some Parting Tips

My most important tip is to have patience. The mantra might not resonate with you right away, and you might seem to be getting the opposite effect. But know that mantras are powerful, and it just takes time and experimentation to find what works.

Don’t overthink it, and don’t have too many expectations. This is training, and the effects might not be obvious right away. Trust in the process, and stick to phrases that resonate with you.

And keep everything simple. Sometimes the simplest solution is the most elegant one!

My Alternative to Mantra Meditation

In my beginner meditation system, I use mantras during compassion meditation mainly to induce wholesome states of mind and practice concentration.

We choose our meditation posture, repeat a phrase such as “I am inherently whole and complete” every 5-10 seconds and observe its effects on the body and mind. As we do, we try to sense our innate fullness yet let whatever happens just happen. Our object of focus is mostly our emotions, thoughts and the body. This is an excellent self-compassion practice.