Question: Is chanting a mantra a form of meditation?
Answer: Repetition of a mantra is a very valid meditation technique when you use the mantra as your object of focus. It is regarded as one of the most widely used concentrative techniques. If the mind wanders, you can just bring it back to the mantra.
Known as concentrative thought forms, mantras are not mere words; they carry meaning, energy and vibrations that tune your subtle frequency in a gradual way. Sri Swami Satchidananda states that the more you repeat a mantra, the more you produce that sound vibration within you. After some time of constant repetition, you will start to feel that vibration within, which is a holding place for you to evolve and grow into heightened states of awareness.
Mantras given to you by your spiritual guide or Guru carry an extra energy charge. It’s like planting a seed which you grow and cultivate by repeating the mantra not only during meditation but also throughout your life as well. Mantra initiation is a ceremony where a Guru imparts the mantra to you but also means that you have committed to the teachings of this particular Guru and the system or lineage.
If you haven’t been given a mantra, choose one carefully. They have different energies and different purposes. Reflection of the meaning of the mantra is an aid.
If you are not into Mantras in ancient languages, then you can substitute a mantra for a positive affirmation. Make sure it’s inspiring and something that you would like to go back to every day.
Different ways to use mantras as the object of your focus:
Start by saying your mantra out loud about 10-20 times. Then whisper the mantra 10-20 times. After that, say it in your mind 10-20 times, then renew for another 10-20 times over and over until you are ready to come out.
Count the number of times you recite a mantra in your head. If you lose count or you catch your mind wandering, start over. The first few times, you may barely get past repeating it once before the mind goes somewhere else. Don’t lose heart. Over time you will see progress. You may actually get to repeat it twice.
Coordinate the mantra with your inhalation and your exhalation. Try to find a pace to repeat it that is sustainable and does not strain your breath.
How to create your own positive affirmation:
Follow an expert such as Louise Hay who has books of positive affirmations linked to physical health and wellbeing. Choose an affirmation that resonates with you or corresponds to a physical or emotional ailment you are suffering.
List seven positive attributes about yourself. What do you like about yourself? Seven is often a tricky number. Many will stop at three. Write down seven things. Your affirmation can be, “I like that I am #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, and #7.”
Observe the negative self-talk or judgements that you give to yourself and write down an opposite or positive statement that dissolves the negative belief.
Create an affirmation that you believe in. If you do not believe in them, you are not setting yourself up for success. Positive affirmations have to be real and based on yourself. You can start by saying, “I am willing to believe that…”
Receiving a mantra from a Guru or spiritual guide:
A Guru literally means “the remover of darkness.” A Guru is there to guide you spiritually on the path towards self-realisation. Choose a Guru carefully — make sure you resonate with the person on a soul-level. Make sure the teachings of the lineage or system are in line with your personal values.
If you have found a spiritual teacher that you follow, and want to commit to following these teachings, then you can request to receive initiation from that person. It is up to the spiritual teacher to decide if you are fit to receive the mantra.
If you have had initiation before from another lineage, usually you are not encouraged to take another mantra initiation. Stick to the mantra that you have.
The benefit of initiation is for the person receiving it. The Guru or spiritual teacher does not lose anything.