The meditation of mantra

When I was about ten one of my primary school teachers posed my class this: “Please don’t think about elephants. Just don’t think about elephants”.

What happened? Without a second thought my mind began to ask, “What elephant?”. Then it conjured ideas of a large, rotund mammal with leathery skin and enormous flapping ears. Then it told itself not to think about said elephant. My mind tied itself in knots thinking about what I wasn’t meant to be thinking about.

The point: our mind is inordinately difficult to manage. And telling it not to do something, is like a red rag to a bull.

So what can we do? One of the tools yoga gives us  is mantra. Mantra helps to channel the mind’s natural busyness, to help it focus and thus relax. As we chant, we also listen and feel. In this way we regulate and contain the information passing from our senses to our mind. This in turn allows the mind to enter the present moment and become still.

Over the years I’ve been practising mantra I’ve used it in all kinds of situations: a particularly turbulent flight from Malaysia to India; as a prelude to meditation; and in the last year as a way to relax a fretful baby. In all of these situations I needed to calm my mind, reduce the messages my senses were giving it and curtail its wayward thinking. And it hasn’t failed me yet.

But what I love most about mantra is that I can practice it anywhere and anytime – there’s no yoga mat and no stretchy pants –  all I need is the will and my voice.

If you’re interested in learning more about mantra and what it could do for you I’m running a workshop on Yoga, Mantra and Poetry on September 2nd. Click here for more details.


Image: Copyright Robert Pollack

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