Mantra Meditation

by Cherie Miranda on October 30, 2013

Before we discuss mantra meditation, it’s important to understand what a mantra is and how it’s used.

A mantra is a sound or phrase that is repeated over and over. You could repeat the sound silently to yourself or you could recite it out loud. When a mantra is repeated aloud, it becomes a chant. In this article, we’ll focus on the use of silent mantras in seated meditation. Chanting as a form of meditation will be discussed in a future post.

The ancients recognized the enormous power of sound. In fact, the age old Vedic tradition holds that the world was created with sound: First there was OM, and from this initial reverberation everything came into existence.

Mantra usage goes back approximately 5,000 years to the Vedic tradition—before Buddha and before Jesus. The word “mantra” is Sanskrit, and it means “vehicle of the mind” or “tool of the mind.”

Keep in mind that mantras aren’t restricted to Eastern traditions, and they aren’t necessarily mystical or esoteric. The modern day affirmation is nothing but a mantra. Catholics who pray the rosary are using a form of mantra, repeating the same words over and over.

So, it’s clear that mantras are still popular in many traditions, including meditation. In fact, Transcendental Meditation, the meditation style that introduced the concept to most of the western world, is a mantra technique.

Why use a mantra in meditation?

Mantras are used in silent meditation to take your awareness to deeper and deeper levels, until you reach the place of no mantra and no thought. For people with very active minds, silent mantra meditation can be an excellent practice.

The mantra gives your mind something to do, something to focus on, so that whenever you have a thought cross your mind, you can return your attention to your mantra. Eventually, your mind quiets down as it focuses on the mantra.

The ultimate goal of mantra mediation is to reach the place of no thought, no mantra. This place is called “the gap,” and it is considered to be the place where your soul (or higher self, if you prefer) resides.

When you reach the gap, especially in the early stages of meditation, it is generally for a few seconds at a time. If you think you are in the gap, you aren’t because you are thinking. However, you may have just been there. You might suddenly realize that you are no longer silently repeating your mantra and that you were not thinking of anything. At that realization point, you aren’t in the gap…but you most likely had just been there.

When you reach the gap, you are achieving the highest possible state of relaxation. Meditation as this level provides a greater degree of rest than sleep. In fact, scientific studies have demonstrated that 30 minutes of meditation is more restful for the mind and body than 30 minutes of sleep.

If you’re meditating for a more spiritual reason, a mantra meditation is likely the quickest way for you to connect with your spirit. Giving your active mind the chore of focusing on one sound is a more direct route to the gap because you learn to filter out thoughts more easily. As thoughts fall away, the mind lets go, eventually losing the mantra and slipping into the space between thoughts.

Most mantra traditions, including my favorite—Primordial Sound Meditation—contend that it’s best to use a meaningless sound for your mantra. If you use a word such as “one” or “love,” two of the most popular, your mind has associations with those words and will tend to remain at the level of conscious awareness. When the mantra has no meaning, when it’s just a sound, the mind has no association and can more easily drop into a deeper state of meditation.

You may be wondering how to find a meaningless sound to use in meditation. The best way is to learn a specific technique. In Transcendental Meditation (TM), your teacher assigns a mantra to you in a bit of an arbitrary fashion. It’s based on your age, sex, and a few other variables. I say it’s arbitrary because one teacher might assign you a different mantra than another teacher since the guidelines are rather loose. There are approximately 12-15 mantra possibilities in TM.

Primordial Sound Meditation is truly a revival of the ancient Vedic tradition. When you learn this technique, your mantra is selected from over 100 possibilities and is unique to you. A proprietary software system uses ancient Vedic mathematics to calculate the position of the moon at the time of your birth. From this, it determines the sound the universe was making when you were born. This sound becomes your mantra.

To learn more about Primordial Sound Meditation, visit:

Personally, I’ve found mantra meditation to be very powerful, especially when used in conjunction with guided meditation. Mantra meditation is certainly not the only form of meditation, and it’s not the best. If you’ve been reading this blog, you already know the best kind of meditation: the one you will do.

Enjoy, and happy meditating!



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