Mantra Yoga: the Yoga of Potent Sound

Mantra yoga meditation involves chanting a word or phrase until the mind and emotions are transcended and your consciousness vibrates in tune with the universal consciousness.

The word mantra is a Sanskrit word combining the two syllables: "man", meaning mind and "tra" meaning to overcome. A mantra is a pure sound-vibration intended to deliver the mind from illusory and material inclinations. Chanting is the process of repeating a mantra. After a while the mantra brings about its vibrations within us. It becomes spontaneous arising itself. It does not need then to be said always.

The mantra's purpose is to assist you to realise your essence, freedom from thought, to be aware of what you really are. How? It enables you to focus on the here and now, on this moment. It enables you to see the workings of your mind, the attachment we give to thought, the grasping of our ego. This builds an awareness of ego in all its gross and subtle dimensions.

The mantra can create the opportunity for old thoughts and feelings, fears and guilt, to be released, let go of and healed.

The words of the mantra take us to our true nature, our naturally blissful selves. The energy of the mantra, its resonance and its wonder, enables us to experience our awareness, bliss and light.

Mantra stills the mind and brings you peace. It brings you to this moment, the here and now. Mantra is wonderful as it gives you peace from mind; mantra overrides thoughts. It short circuits our mental traffic, from which we otherwise think we cannot escape.

Reciting mantras affects your subtle body and your consciousness. Your subtle body consists of small vibrations and mantra directly affects the energy vibration of your subtle body. After a period of time, subjective to each individual, you become absorbed in the mantra. The vibrations of the mantra still other vibrations. In time, the mantra brings about a state where the individual vibrates at the rate in tune with the universal consciousness. It brings you to now, this moment.

The mind has a habit of wandering a great deal. Focusing on the sound of the mantra enables you to not focus on your thoughts as much. The rhythm and meaning of the mantra enable you to guide the mind back to the point of meditation, your link with your consciousness, enabling you to tune into the collective, universal consciousness. Those who experience their true nature, unclouded by afflictive intent, thought, emotion and actions, say they experience rapture. They often say that they feel like they have come home.

The sacred sound or shabad, in the words of the Gurus and mystics in the Sikh scriptures and meditation are powerful keys to self-healing. Through their practice you can experience yourself as a whole, integrated person, knowing yourself to be of existence. We feel separate because our minds are the greatest thieves, robbing us of much of our lives when we remain in thought, especially when the thoughts are not positive.

The purpose of this human life according to the Sikh Gurus and Buddhas is to realise your Divinity, your consciousness, that moment of here and now, this moment of Eternity. Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, in his famous work on meditation the Japji, states: "man jite jag jīt", the one who overcomes the mind, conquers the world. You are then no longer a slave to your mind. Freedom is freedom from thought, identification with our mental chatter, for our desire for x,y or z or aversion to x, y, or z.

Of course the thoughts we all want to be freed from are those negative ones, those that cause us and others grief, worry, anxiety, anger, greed, pride, aversion, attachment and suffering. Would it not be wonderful to be able to recognise thoughts as just visitors and for them to just subside? We just have not been trained in recognising thoughts as just visitors. Therefore, we think and chase our thoughts. We permit them to take us wherever ultimately we wish. We are slaves to our masters, our thoughts. A tried and tested way over many centuries of "seeing" or being aware of your thoughts is through meditation on the mantra and on breath.

For five minutes when you get up and for five minutes before you go to sleep, just focus on your breath or the mantra "Wa he gu ru", that which takes you from the darkness to the light is wonderful." Your thoughts will come and go. Let them. Do not try and "do" anything. Just be aware. Just witness, without judgement, purposefully, as you do would say when you are listening to a great piece of music.

There is the higher self. This is referred to as Antarjamī within Sikh philosophy, an inner knower of hearts or our constant and permanent core. This is the very essence of our being or existence. It is not a product of anyone's mind or intellect. It is beyond personality, untouched and independent of emotional and mental content. Though mantra and meditation, direct experience of Antarjamī is possible. It can also be experienced in the company of those who are completely self-realised.

Those who have experienced this have relayed that it has a sense of permanence, eternity and timelessness, as well as radiance. That Higher self is the true Self, not the constant thought constructed "I".

The Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh scripture states: "Antarjamī sadaa sang karnaihār pachhān"; the inner-knower, the searcher of hearts, is always with you; recognise that as the Creator.

Nowadays many people are coming to the same conclusion. Robert Assiogoli, the transpersonal psychologist, recommends a great affirmation: "I am I pure consciousness." You can add to that: "I have a mind, I am not the mind; I have a body, I am not the body; I have thoughts, I am not thoughts; I have emotions, I am not emotions. I am pure consciousness". Repeat that to yourself whenever you can. Repeat that to yourself whenever you are in a situation where your ego may normally be challenged and observe what happens. This affirmation helps us to realise we are not body, thoughts, emotions; we are pure consciousness.