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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mantra Yoga Focuses On Using Chants To Achieve A Spiritual Balance And Peace Of Mind

By Tim Gorman

The term ‘mantra’ literally means chanting of words, phrases or syllables. From mantra comes Mantra Yoga, which is a type of meditation that involves the chanting of mantras. The chanting continues until the attention span of the chanter surpasses the physical environment and enters a stage of super consciousness. In this stage, the emotions and thoughts of a person get elevated to a high degree of clarity and revelation.

Mantras are an effective way to reach super consciousness because they help the mind to calm down and move away from daily distractions. The sole object of meditation is then fully realized and achieved. Chanting mantras have a soothing effect, and the combination of the meaning and rhythm of the mantra helps your thoughts to settle into the meditative state. This ritualistic chanting helps bind the mind to a single thought until it attains the state of samadhi or self-realization, which is at the peak of the practice of Yoga.

Achieving Samadhi through meditation is a slow process, and requires great patience, concentration and practice. Mantra meditation usually proceeds in three stages. First, you begin by chanting the mantras out loud, ideally in an isolated space. Saying the words and phrases out loud draws your attention away from other distractions and trains your body to sit still in a single place while meditating. Once the body is relaxed and the mind serene, the chanter automatically switches to whisper chanting. In whisper chanting the prana, the vital life force in the body, is balanced and harmonized, preparing the way for the balance of mind and emotions. At this stage the person is highly relaxed and calm.

Once the chanter is completely comfortable with whisper chanting, the prana flows deeper through the energy channels or nadis, and you move to the stage of mental chanting. This highly advanced stage helps you get rid of all forms of distractions because as soon as unwanted thoughts and distractions crop up, the mantra is simply chanted in the same area of the mind where the distraction is occurring. Soon also the distractions melt away and the mantra then begins to reach the border of super consciousness or samadhi. At this stage, chanting becomes a free flowing process that gives the chanter pleasure and peace.

The highest stage of mental chanting is called the ecstatic stage, whereby you experience total peace and a feeling of ‘returning home’; you are in a state of continuous joy, which lasts for about 15 to 20 minutes after which you return to the ‘outer world’. The words of the mantra filter-out in the mind and you reverse the whole process, going into whisper - and then out loud – chanting.