Tuesday, December 28, 2010


A mantra is a word or phrase that is spoken or chanted over and over again, either mentally or aloud.  They can be hard to translate, but it is not absolutely necessary to understand exactly what they mean.

Word Games:  Mantras are words of power.  Their effectiveness lies in the vibration of the sound.  When they are vibrated correctly the sound strikes a certain frequency, which resonates within the subtle body, stimulating the psychic energy centers and releasing blockages in the energy flow.

The best known mantra is "Om."  This is said to be the primal sound, the sound which, going forth at the beginning of time, brought the whole universe into being.  Om is a "seed mantra," one from which other mantras are formed.  A much-loved mantra is "Om mani padme hum."  Approximately translated, this means "hail to the jewel in the lotus," the jewel being the divine spirit and enlightenment hidden within the lotus of our being.

Make Your Own Mantra:  In the East, mantras are chosen for a pupil by a teacher.  However, you can choose your own.  This can be very simple.  A single word such as "love" or "harmony" will suffice, or a phrase such as "peace to the world."  You can use the name of a spiritual master or even your own name.

There are also plenty of ancient mantras springing from various spiritual traditions.  If you have a specific religious belief, then try using part of a prayer, hymn, or saying as a mantra.

Monday, December 27, 2010


The religions of the East have long used meditation as a means to connect with a deep level of spiritual enlightenment.  Many of the techniques used in these traditions are highly practical and effective.

Koans:  One of the various ancient meditation schools, Zen Buddhism, uses koans.  A koan is a riddle that defies logic.

Probably the most famous koan is:  "What is the sound of one hand clapping?"  The Zen master chooses a koan for the pupil and tells him or her to go away and meditate on it with single-minded devotion.  This might take the pupil days, weeks, or even years.  When the conscious mind finally gives up the impossible task of solving the elusive conundrum, the anser suddenly arises intuitively from the higher consciousness.  This is an iimportant lesson in the process of understanding.

Mandalas:  Another ancient method, used particularly in Tibetan Buddhism, is the mandala.  This is a symbolic picture incorporating geometrical shapes, especially the square and the circle.  Typically, a mandala is divided into four outer sections representing the outer world and a round inner section symbolizing the self.  Through contemplating its elaborate imager, the meditator is led from his or her outer to the inner being, where balance and wholeness are found.

I actually enjoy coloring mandalas.  I have two sets of mandalas.  I small set of round cards that I sometimes take to work with him.  It is a great way to decompress during a 30 minute lunch.  The second set is larger and each one requires more time than 30 minutes.  My children also enjoy coloring them.

Eight-fold path:  A major tenet of eastern meditation is the Buddhist eight-fold path.  This embraces right thought, right action, right speech, and right understanding.  It is a philosopy of compassion, respecting all beings and harming none.  Meditation is viewed as the means of discovering our Buddha nature, which in non-Buddhist circles we might call the true light within.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


As I have mentioned in previous blogs; part of being healthy is taking time to take care of ourselves.  Meditation is a great way to destress and to get balanced.

In eastern monasteries, the monks and nuns spend much of their time carrying out menial tasks like raking the paths.  How do they meditate then?  In fact, any activity can be used to meditate by being "mindful."  For me, my most meditative state is when I play the piano.  There are other ways to find that focus and balance to get you centered again.


Meditation doesn't always mean sitting still with your eyes closed.  Whatever you are doing, whether it is eating, working on the computer; or washing the automobile, do it with your undivided attention.  This practice is called "mindfulness."  It sounds much easier than it is.  See how long you can hold your attention before your thoughts wander.  Mindfulness helps you to be fully present in every moment of the day, without regrets about the past or anxiety for the future.  It is a way of bringing meditation into every day chores.

Walking Meditation:

1)  walk slowly, keeping your body relaxed and your eyes open.  Turn your attention to the actions of your body rather than just your breath.
2)  Be fully conscious of every move you make.  Be aware of lifing one foot and putting it in front of the other, as well as your breathing.
3)  Feel how your arms are moving.  Being conscious of your body as it propels you forward, the blood flowing carrying oxygen to your muscles.
4)  Concentrate wholly on the present moment, performing every action with your whole attention.  You can try this out at intervals during the day.