Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Metta Sutta

The latest installment of the Italian Buddhist: Urban Buddhism. It is a reading of the Metta Sutta, the Buddha’s words on loving kindness.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Japa (Mantra) Meditation

Japa Meditation

Japa meditation is also known as mantra meditation. With Japa meditation, the use of a mantra is used to focus the thoughts while quieting the mind. Japa meditation exists in many cultures along with a variety of practice methods.

Most methods involve repetition of a word or set of sounds. Some common mantras which you may have heard before are "Om" or "Om Mani padme hum". The sound "Om" pronounced "A-U-M", is a sacred sound which represents the creative energy of the universe. There are many interpretations and a great deal of focus spent on understanding the meaning of the sacred sound. Some interpret "Om" to be the sound of the initial creative spirit of the universe, or one true God.

"Om Mani Padme Hum" is also of great importance. It is one of the most revered mantras due to the amount of knowledge transmitted through its use. It is said that the entirety of the Buddha's teachings are contained within the mantra.

When beginning Japa meditation choosing a mantra which focuses the mind is an important step. If you are in contact with a spiritual leader then you may choose to have them select your mantra for you. If you're unable to speak with a spiritual leader, then selecting your own mantra should be your focus before beginning.

There may be different purposes for your mantra meditation. Using a mantra such as "Om", is meant to bring the spirit into contact with God. However, a spiritual goal such as that may be difficult to attain without the proper dedication and guidance. Not every person has the chance to meditate two or more hours a day in order to attain such a lofty goal. We may all be at different places in our journey to communicate with our spirit. Regardless of where you are at, Japa (or mantra) meditation is a great technique for bringing the mind to focus on one point of concentration. This concentration may be used to accomplish many different goals in life.
While some may believe that creating your own mantra may be tantamount to sacrilege, my view is that whatever helps you attain spiritual focus is a worthy pursuit. Before creating your own mantra though, realize that many of the mantras, which have been used for hundreds or thousands of years, are said to contain great spiritual power. Please keep this in mind when deciding on a mantra to use.

If you find that there is a particular area in your life that you need help on, then using a mantra to bring focus to the mind is a powerful way to activate your subconscious success mechanism.
If you would like to create a mantra for success in a particular area of life first acknowledge the need for development in that area. Then sit quietly allowing your mind to focus on what you would like to achieve. You may have a visual idea or be able to describe it well verbally. However you perceive it, for the purpose of your mantra meditation, you will need to summarize the essence of the focus.

This does not necessarily mean that a mantra will become something like "I want more money in my life" or "I will find the love of my life". Both of these mantras actually point to a lack of something in life. Thoughts such as those would likely create more negative energy by focusing on the present lack of abundance. A mantra will be most beneficial by creating a positive change in the mind/body. A powerful mantra might be something like "I am a man, I am complete alive and whole" or "My mind is free and clear of distracting thoughts, I am in complete control of my will". These mantras create a positive energy by creating a clearly defined actuality.
Mantras such as these allow positive energy to flow through the body while building strength in certain areas.
Once a mantra is chosen you may begin the practice of Japa meditation. Sit in a cross-legged position, much like you would in daily mindfulness meditation. You would then bring focus to the breath and allow a full and natural breathing pattern to relax the mind/body. In the case of mantra meditation, rather than focusing on the breath, your focus will be on the mantra.

Begin repeating the mantra either out loud or in your head. If you are in a place where you cannot repeat the mantra out loud, then repeating it in your mind will be jut as beneficial. If you repeat the mantra out loud, allow your body to feel the vibrations of your spoken voice. The mantra carries power through your body in this way. If you are repeating the mantra in your head, allow the mantra to consume the entirety of your thoughts. When you repeat it through your mind you may also want to imagine the mantra flowing through the entire body.

Some practices believe that repeating the mantra 108 times is a key to successful meditation. If you own a set of prayer beads, then it may be easier for you to keep track of the mantra count. Otherwise don't worry about the number of repetitions. Simply set a time that you will devote to the practice and repeat the mantra as many times as possible within that time frame. Setting an alarm to help you stick to the committed time may be helpful to you.

In any case when you choose to complete a mantra meditation, stick to one mantra. Don't begin the meditation with one mantra and then switch to another. You may not feel completely comfortable with your chosen mantra at first, but that will change over time.
By repeating one singular mantra you will find that the mind will slip into a deep meditative state. This state will help you absorb the teachings of the mantra deep into your subconscious mind. The repetition will also have the benefit of providing the conscious mind with a deep restful state along with increasing your ability to concentrate.

There are many benefits of mantra meditation. Be sure to stick to your mantra meditation in order to see your way through the challenges of life. I assure you that you will see deep and lasting changes which affect many areas of your life.