One of the things that has helped me greatly with living with sarcoidosis is meditation. I am meditating for years now, mostly doing guided meditations because I am convinced I have ADD and while I try to meditate, my brain just takes over and goes on its own journey to all sorts of places. Sometimes even in the guided meditations I wander off and even sometimes fall asleep, the later not necessarily being a bad thing.
My early introduction to meditation wasn’t positive
My brother and my best friend and his mother used to do transcendental meditation back in the 70s, and back then it was all secret and hush-hush. They would not talk to anyone about the practice other than with each other. It felt very “cultish” to me at the time. A few months ago, TM came knocking again at my door and as I looked into it deeper, my realization is that TM is just Mantra Meditation with a specific mantra given to you by a “teacher”, and you pay for this. And it is not cheap. You pay tthem according to your earnings. The more money you ern, the more money you pay. It can be any where from $500.00 to $960.00. Mantra meditation on the other hand is absolutely FREE!
What is a mantra?
A mantra in its rawest definition is a Vedic hymn, a statement or slogan that is repeated frequently. A specific word or phrase repeatedly said will eventually bring the person into accepting making the word or phrase part of your psyche.
I looked more and more, and read and read, and researched and researched and realized that there are millions of mantras, and you don’t have to pay any organization to give you a mantra. A mantra can be as simple as “I am happy” said over and over to yourself. Tell yourself something often enough over and over and you will be what you preach.
In further research, I realized that most people who do mantra meditation use a string of beads known as a Mala. The mala is for all intents and purposes a counting mechanism. There are 108 beads plus one large “guru” bead on a mala, the significance of that number can be numerous in explanations and open to many different interpretations. A lot of it has to do with the number 9 and its divisibility into 108. If you are interested, this site, has an explanation of many different interpretations of the number.
I grew up Catholic, so for those of you that think the whole mala bead thing is sacrilegious and anti Christian, here is a thought for you. When you say the rosary, that’s a Christian mantra. You are saying the same thing over and over. And another interesting point, a rosary has 54 prayer beads, which is 108 divided by two. Hmmm.
Why is Japa meditation different to other meditation?
Japa meditation is using a word or phrase of intention which you repeat over and over. With the help of mala beads, used for counting, I find myself able to stay focused on the meditation. With regular “quiet” meditation where you are trying to clear the mind doesn’t work for me.
No matter how I try to quiet my mind, that sucker is loud. He always has some thing to say or coming up with a list or is solving some issue. Having a word or phrase for my brain to repeat over and over allows my brain to actually stay focused on my intention.
Where to do meditation
The amazing thing with meditation is that it can literally be done anywhere, at anytime of day for any length of time. You don’t need a meditation room or a designated space and you don’t have to do it for a set time either.
All you need is a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Have a house full of people and everybody bugs you? Go in the bathroom and lock the door and give yourself five minutes of you time. Sit under a tree in your yard. At your desk at work. In your car in a parking lot before you drive off. Anywhere you can get a few minutes of quiet time where you probably won’t be disturbed.
What you will need for japa meditation.
First and foremost you need to be patient with yourself, especially if you have never meditated before. You need to give yourself time to work into it. Don’t rush, go slowly.
Other than a quiet space and at least five minutes of free, undisturbed time, you really need nothing. Having a mala, a string if beads, is helpful to keep you focused and on track but it’s not absolutely necessary. If you don’t have a mala, get a meditation timer app that will let you know when a certain amount of time is up. I recommend an app called “Progressive Alarm Clock” for the iPhone. Don’t know if it is available for Android but I am sure there are similar. Progressive Alarm has a gentle progressive bell tone to gently bring you out of your meditative state with. Also great to wake up to in the morning.
If you do want to be more “guided”, then mala beads are easily available in a variety of colors and materials to match anyone’s taste on Amazon. If you have a rosary, that will work just as well as I mentioned before, a rosary counted twice is the equivalent of one mala.
And of course you need a mantra. More on that below.
How long you need to do japa meditation for
If you never meditated before, start slowly. I would suggest just meditating for five minutes and then working your way up as you get more comfortable with being relaxed. A lot of us are always on the go and believe me that staying still will be unusual and even uncomfortable for a lot of people.
How do you get a mantra?
Think of a mantra as an intention. Something you want to place positively in your life. Most mantras are Sanskrit words, ancient Indian texts. One of the most popular mantras is just simply the word “Om”. Om, also written as “AUM”, is the most sacred syllable or mantra in Hinduism, that signifies the essence of reality and consciousness.
Deep right? Want to keep it simple? How about a simple mantra such as “I am healed”. Think of any positive intention you want to establish in your life at this specific time and make it your own personal mantra.
As you get more into the practice you can begin researching more sacred text for mantras in Sanskrit that will resonate with you personally. I have been doing mantra meditation for a while now and I have been using a Sanskrit phrase that basically asks that I receive abundance.
Now here is where you see how intention plays a part in mindset. Abundance does not necessarily mean monitory. Abundance can be happiness, health (in my case), joy etc. When I do my mantra, I focus on my physical health and happiness. Not so much on the financial. And have I seen any change in my life? Definitely.
How to actually do a mantra meditation
People approach meditation very apprehensively, but although it appears intimidating, it is actually very simple.
I am going to give you a very simple meditation which is an excellent starting off point. Sit in a comfortable position, place your hands palm down on your lap and close your eyes. Relax. Now slowly take a deep breath in. Slowly exhale and as you exhale say “one” in your head. Inhale deeply again, then slowly exhale and say “two” in your head. Repeat the process until you reach the number “ten”. Ta da! You just did a very simple and short meditation. Easy right? Do that for a few days adding more numbers as you go along until you are comfortable with the process.
When you are ready to do an actual mantra meditation, Jappa meditation is intended to be done with an “intention”. The intention would be your “mantra” or the word or words you will repeat 108 times, either silently in your head or aloud. Your choice.
Try to do the meditation every day straight for 28 days using one mantra for that time. It will help set a habit pattern. If you feel as if that mantra has worked for you and you feel a shift, then you can create a new mantra to fit a new way of being you wish to pursue.
Eventually, when you get comfortable doing simple mantras, you can try to find a Sanskrit mantra that fits with you and what your daily intentions are. If you are eventually going to find your own Sanskrit mantra, please be sure to research it thoroughly. There is a lot of bull shit out there. You don’t want to end up saying that you are crossed eyed.
The act of japa meditation.
Find a place that you can be undisturbed, that is quiet. If you want to put on quiet music, that is fine, but best to use music without words. Just instrumental. You can find a lot of meditation music on the internet, but I have found the most effective are those with an East Indian influence. That’s where mantra meditation came from, so it’s in the DNA.
With your left hand, bring the thumb and middle finger together. You can place the mala loosely in the circle the index creates. Now in your right hand, place the mala between the thumb and middle finger, holding onto the bead nearest the guru bead (Some people say the bead to the left of the guru bead, but who’s left?).
Take a deep breath, and as you slowly exhale, say the mantra you created for yourself. Use your thumb to move to the next bead. Inhale deeply and as you slowly exhale, repeat the mantra. Repeat this until you get back to the guru bead. Do not cross the guru bead. If you wish to do another 108 repetitions, go the opposite direction on the mala.
As you get more into it, it becomes very second nature. For the past couple of years I have been using a Sanskrit mantra that works for me on a universal basis. The days I miss a meditation, I can feel the difference. If at first you don’t make it through a whole mala, don’t beat up on yourself. Just do as much as you can. Some people say that if you miss one day before you finish the 28 days you need to start over from day one. I think that is nonsense. That’s just putting too much upon a simple devotional exercise. The whole 28 day is really just a habit forming exercise more than anything.
A Beautiful Example Of A Healing Mantra
This mantra is on Apple Music if you wanted access other than YouTube. It is a beautiful healing mantra.
“Prana Apana” from MeditativeMind.org
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