Saying mantra is to be a human prayer flag. As the mantra sings in our mind or rolls off our tongue and mala turning fingers, the vibrations of Being pour out. Mantra is an excellent use of the mind, of time, and of one’s moment.
Many things run through our minds every day. We can wonder how much quietude there is in our mind overall, and do the experiment of listening to the quality of voices and thoughts that can be ceaseless in our mind. A colleague was telling a few of us about a study done that helped people describe to themselves their ongoing inner mental quality: rapid, ever present, self-referencing thought (REST). My guess is that we, too, will discover that unless we are trained in meditation or are in a moment of prayer, mantra, or song that our mind is possessed with negative or fruitless thought.
Thus, one of the benefits of mantra, prayer, or positive song is that it replaces negative, judgmental, or fruitless thought. It begins to replace the self-oriented and/or self-referencing stories in our mind. Choosing affirmation, such as “I am soul breathing*,” we remind ourself who and what we truly are. This makes certain forms of behavior less appealing, brings us to mindfulness, and illumines mindlessness.
Many forms of prayer, affirmation, and mantra benefit others. All spiritual traditions practice these. Using them, we retrain our mind to think of others. These thoughts help to reframe our personal situations into the relative relation they have within all of humanity and its struggles. At the same time, we put positive thought and energy into the world.
In these ways, mantra and prayer or affirmation that applies to more than only our self, purifies our mind, and seeds it with betterment. Incrementally, our mind, personalizations, and negative behaviors are retrained.
I have used all of the above since childhood, and continue to every day. Several of the mantras or affirmations that I have offered students and the Spirit Fire group field over decades have come from my own practice and are self-generated. That some are self-generated means that anyone can create a mantra, prayer, or affirmation. I have encouraged students and friends to do so many times knowing the value of it.
“Energy follows thought.” Energy always follows thought and never does not. This is a cosmic law. Thus be mindful with your choice of prayer, affirmation, and mantra. If an affirmation is self-centered, its boomerang could be quite significant and will be unstoppable. Thoughts and words are energy. Harsh words, a tone of voice that is prideful or negating of others is negative energy put into the world and, also, put into your stream of consciousness and karma. Small things are big things. Harmful or negative thoughts, words, and actions create sizeable and long lasting karma. Small adjustments toward kindness and happiness or gratitude in thought, word, and contemplation adjust the mind stream in only beneficial ways. These also cultivate positive karma for lives to come.
Many mantras, prayers, or affirmations speak of the Self but are not self-centered. For example, “I am soul ….”. To remember that one is Soul, that one is a source of clear light, that one gives life force to and through thought every moment, word, desire, and action, and that one is the director of one’s intentions is a powerful statement of Self. Yet, this mantra, its intention and vibration is not self-centered in a negative or small-minded way. Instead, the mantric affirmation calls one to one’s highest qualities and expression.
Because of the almost nine months of meditation and isolation that I recently completed, mantra is always singing in my mind and often quietly chanted. Mantra is the qualities of highest Being rendered in sounds and syllables. Mantras intone the qualities contained within a mind that understands their meaning and invokes into existence. Vibration is the very nature of everything in cosmos. Karma, for example, is a vibrational string chiming from moment to moment and lifetime to lifetime. We tune the string with positivity or slacken the string of karma and purpose with negativity. Either is our choice. Mantra is too.
The roll of positivity in one’s mind as well as the cultivation of clear light voidness as the state of awareness both require cultivation. But the truth is that the opposite are what is fostered by modern society: troublesome thoughts along with self-entitled self-referencing as well as no space or emptiness allowed in the mind. Mantra, said or chanted with understanding behind the words, provides positive imprints on the mind stream and beneficial vibrations into the world. Positive prayers, universal in their intention, do also.
Let us …
Break through divisions of mind
Let all come undone.
Court the edge of enlightenment
(then may we have the courage) then disappear (into enlightenment and Allness).
* This mantra was given to students years ago.
I am Soul,
Source of clear light,
Giver of dynamic life,
Director of all my intentions.
I am Soul breathing.
photographs: Prayer Flags at Spirit Fire by Steve Kramer, One’s Practice by Darren Roth