Meditation is key to helping us get in touch with our essence, our Buddha nature. However, quieting the fluctuations of the mind's thoughts is no easy task! When your mind is scattered, it’s a bit more challenging to reconnect to that innate place within you where bliss consciousness resides. Be that as it may, when you diligently practice synching your breath (pranayama) to the calming repetition of mantra recitation, it helps quiet the fluctuations of thoughts and allows you to tap into a calmer, more aware state of being.
The Breath: Pranayama
During a guided meditation, you’re often instructed to place your awareness on your breath. This is because your breath is the most accessible link to the present moment; whatever has happened or with happen, your breath is your direct link to the here and now. At any point in time, you always have your breath to turn to when you need to focus. So, the breath is the chief catalyst for connecting – this can access through breathing techniques such as pranayama, mantra, mala beads or, all three.
Mantra Meditation: “So'ham”
Mantras are another essential tool for staying focused in your meditation practice. Mantras are known to be powerful vehicles for soothe the waves of mental activity and arrive at a place of inner stillness. Mantras are the sounds of divinity; containing sacred energy and can be thought of as a kind of condensed prayer. One might say that the most universal mantra of all is the “So'ham,” because it is inextricably linked to the breath. The inhalation sounds like “so” and the exhalation like “ham.” Placing your attention on the breath – namely “so” as you inhale and “ham” as you exhale, brings you to a state of one-pointed awareness. You gradually become more relaxed and therefore present. So'ham is the perfect mantra for beginners to practice because it's easy to align our breath to this subtle sound. It’s derived from the Sanskrit sah, meaning "that" and aham, or "I am." When we translate So'ham into English, we get “I am that.”
Using Mala Beads:
Visualization When practicing with more complex mantras, a set of mala beads becomes quite useful. Using mala beads facilitates mental focus, visualization, and physical awareness. Mantras can pick up their pace as the practitioner becomes more advanced, and they can ultimately become almost inaudible – sounding more like pulses of energy than the weaving together of syllables. The beauty of this practice is that it’s both systematic and methodical. It gives you a solid and outlined approach to the inner practice of meditation. Without it, accessing a point of inner stillness can be difficult. You can concrete on certain tools to guide you into deeper states of awareness. And because we all breathe, we all have access to these transcendent states of consciousness. What a simple yet profound practice!