Many people associate spiritual work with long periods of meditation. Actually there are many different types of meditation, which we will briefly cover here. In my view, it is hard to get the high brain mental faculties working properly without spending some time in silent contemplation using some of these techniques. But meditation isn’t strictly necessary and some methods (like Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga) do not focus on meditation at all. Indeed, you could argue that the best way of exercising the CEN is to engage in solving complex mental problems. However, for most people some long periods of silent meditation will be necessary to help bring a chaotic mind under control and get the prefrontal cortex into a proper working state.
Some of the meditation methods include:
- Mantra meditation or Japa. Repetition of sacred sounds or phrases. See section below on Mantra meditation.
- Yantra – concentration on a sacred symbol, or even the picture of ones’ Guru (which is a form of Bhakti Yoga). This works better for some people than Mantra meditation.
- Pranayama – breathing meditation. This works better for some people than Mantra meditation, and is often the first type of meditation taught by many Buddhist schools.
- Tantra and Kundalini yoga – these methods may include sexual practices, and are intended to awaken the nerve currents in the spine. Refer back to the nerve diagram in the physical body section – there is some science behind these methods. There are teachers in India who claim to be able to give the experience of God, but need to touch your genitals during meditation. This may work for some people but check the credentials of the teacher in advance!
- Self-inquiry (advaita) – aligned more to intellectuals, this is a powerful method of self-reflection and contemplation and reasoning. There are some good advaita teachers in the world today who advocate this type of inquiry.
- Kriya Yoga (see here and here and here) – made popular in the west through the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda (Self-realization Fellowship). A combination of breathing techniques and yoga mudras. These methods are endorsed by some highly respected spiritual masters.
- Siddhi Yoga (not to be confused with Siddha Yoga) – these are said to be the techniques used by ancient Hindu masters who were able to attain supernatural (Siddhi) powers. I’ve had difficulty finding much information about Siddhi Yoga, but the techniques may be similar to those in Kundalini yoga.
In this section I have collated some of the Mantras used in chanting and meditation from many traditions. Even Christianity has mantras! This is quite a long section, but mantra meditation is not for everyone. It perhaps works best if your mind is very busy and needs a useful distraction. As the mind quietens, the mantra itself can be a nuisance, so the technique is probably best viewed as a stepping stone to other methods such as pranayam.
Vaikhari – loud repetition, eg the Hare Krishna mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare. Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
Upanshu – repetition, hummed or whispered, perhaps moving the lips without making a sound.
Manasika – repetition, repeated mentally.
Likhita – written in large letters, and repeated mentally (eg Om Nama Shivaya).
Ajapa – circulation of pranic energy (as in Kriya Yoga).
Repetition of a sacred sound or phrase is done to bring about a change or effect. CW Leadbeater in “The Master and The Path” describes five types of mantras:
- Those that work simply by faith (analagous to applying a dock leaf to a nettle sting)
- Those that work by association (eg the National Anthem)
- Those that work by agreement or covenant (eg the Christian “This Is My Body“, which evokes Angelic assistance)
- Those that work by their meaning – repetition gives power to the words impressing upon the mind and mental body. Blessings given by a Priest fall into this category.
- Those that work by their sound (without meaning, eg Om, the powerful seed mantras)
I sourced many of these mantras were sourced from Joshua David Stone “The Complete Ascension Manual“. They are listed according to different religious traditions.
- Elohim (All that God Is – God in the aspect of the Divine Mother)
- Yod Hay Vod Hay = YHWH (God in the aspect of the Divine Father)
- Adonai (Earth aspect of God)
- Eh Hay Eh, or Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh (I Am that I Am)
- El Shaddai (God Almighty)
- Ha Sham (the name)
- Shekinah (Holy Spirit)
- El Eliyon (The Most High God)
- Sh’Mah Yisrael Adonai Elohainu Adonai Chad (Hear, oh Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is One!)
- Barukh Ata Adonai (Blessed is the Lord)
- Qadosh, Qadosh, Qadosh, Adonai Tzeba’oth (Holy, Holy, Holy is the lord God of Hosts)
- Eli Eli (My God, My God)
- Ruach Elohim (Spirit of the Godhead)
- Ribono Shel Olam (Lord of the Universe)
- Shekinah Ruach Ha Quodesh (Divine Presence of the Holdy Spirit)
- Ain Sof ur (Limitless Light of the Absolute)
- Layoo-esh Shekinah (Pillar of Light of the Holy Spirit)
- Ehyeh Metatron (I Am Metatron)
- Yahweh Elohim (Divine Lords of Light and Learning)
- Yeshua Michael (Jesus and Archangel Michael)
- Shaddai El Chai (the Almighty Living God)
- Adonai H’artez (Lord of the Earth)
- Moshe Yeshua Eliahu (Moses, Jesus and Elijah)
- Shalom (Peace)
- Hyos Ha Koidesh (Highest Servants of the Ancient of Days)
- Aum or Om
- Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva
- So Ham or Ham Sa or Haung Sau (I Am He)
The Gayatri Mantra – Bhur bhuvah svah, Tat-savitur varenyam, Bhargo devasya dhimahi, Dhiyo yo na pracodayat (Om Earth, atmosphere, heavens, We meditate on the sacred light of that effulgent source which should direct our thoughts). This particular mantra is particularly good and is highly recommended. Hear it here (and check YouTube for other renditions).
- Sai Baba or Sai Ram or Om Sri Sai Ram
- Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare (Hare Krishna chant).
- Om Siva Namaya (I bow to Siva)
- Om Sri Dattatreya Namaha
- Om Shanti (Peace)
- Om Tat Sat (Thou art the Inexpressible Absolute Reality)
- Hari Om Tat Sat (Om, the Divine Absolute Reality)
- Hari Om (Healing mantra)
- Om Sri Rama Jaya Rama Jaya Jaya Rama (Victory for the Spiritual Self)
- Yesu Christu (Jesus Christ in Hindi)
- Tat Twam Asi (that and This of One)
- Lam, Vam, Ram, Yam, Ham, Om/Aum (1st through 6th chakra)
- Sat Nam (mantra of Sikhs and Guru Nanak)
- Eck Ong Kar Sat Nam Siri Wha Guru (The Supreme is One, His Names are Many)
- Sivo Ham (I Am Shiva)
- Aham Brahmasmi (I Am Brahman or I Am God)
- Om Ram Ramaya Namaha (O Lord Ram, I Bow Down To You)
- Allahu Akbar (God is Great)
- Bismillah Al-Rahman, Al-Rahim (In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful)
- Ya-Rahman (God, the Beneficent)
- Ya-Salaam (The Source of Peace)
- Ya-Mutakabir (God, the Majestic)
- Y-Ghaffar (God, the Forgiver)
- Ya-Fattah (God, the Opener)
- Ya-Hafiz (God, the Preserver)
- Ya-Sabur (God, the Patient)
- I Am that I Am
- I Am God
- I Am
- I Will
- I Love
- Be Still and Know I Am God
- Areeeooommm (Edgar Cayce’s Mantra of Universal Mind)
- Nuk-Pu-Nuk (I Am He I Am)
- Au-U Ur-Se-Ur Au-U (I Am the Great One, Son of the Great One, I Am)
- Ra (Egyptian Sun God)
- Ra-Neter-Atef-Nefer (The Divine God, Ra is Gracious)
- Nefer-Neter-Wed-Neh (The Perfect God Grants Life)
- Erta-Na-Hekau-Apen-Ast (May I be given the words of power of Isis)
- Heru-Udjat (Eye of Horus)
- Jesus Christ
- God, Christ, Holy Spirit
The Lord’s prayer – Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed by Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom and the Power and the Glory, for ever. Amen.
- Ave Maria (Hail Mary)
Hail Mary, Full of Grace! The Lord is with Thee. Blessed are Thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
Lord Jesus Christ, Have Mercy on me.
Om Namah Christaya
Om Namah Christave
Yesu Yesu Jai Jai Namo.
Tibetan Foundation Chakra Mantras
- Shu (shuck)
- Wa (yawn)
- Hu (hue)
- Om namo bhagavate Vasudevaya
Om Mane Padme Hung Om – salutations to The Jewel of Consciousness (the mind) which has reached the heart’s lotus.
Om Ah Hum Soha – basis of many tantric mantras. OM, AH, HUM represents the three bodies of Buddha. Where OM, is the universe, the universal, the all-encompassing, the uncreated, the unchanging. The “mind” of the Universe. The original nature of Buddha. Where is AH, is the Truth embodied, the Word and “speech” of the Universe or Dharma. HUM is the fruition, and refers to physical manifestations i.e. the “body” of the Universe or Sangha. Soha – amen, so let it be.
Padme Siddhi Hum (Come to me, O Lotus Power)
Buddha, or Bud-ho (used in same way as So Ham, Haung Sau breath mantras)
Quan Yin, Avalokitesvara, Chenrazee
Sanskrit root sounds
Om (Aum) is made up of the sounds “ah”, “oh” and “mh”. The first spoken word is Aham. From Om and Aham arise the basic sanskrit vowels. It helps if you have some knowledge of the Sanskrit alphabet in order to follow this. It is quite scientific. The bar across the top represents continuous expulsion of breath , and the breaks in the bar are when the breath is interrupted.
The 5 basic vowels of the 9 vowel sounds have “ah” breathed through them which gives rise to 5 glide sounds, and these align to the five lower chakra centres..
Pranayama and Breathing meditation
The mantra sounds are: vam, lam, ram, yam, ham, and Om. A good yoga school would assign a new student a mantra according to their needs (ie which chakra centre they most need to work on). So they may begin by meditating on vam or ram, and after a period of time graduate on to Om.
Most introductory meditation courses will begin with either mantra or breathing meditation. Breathing techniques or pranayam are very powerful ways of calming the body and mind. Focused breathing works to calm the vagus nerve (also see here for reasons why the vagus nerve is important for health) and the area of the brain where the ego is centred. For other types of people, singing or chanting is more effective at calming the vagus nerve. There is no right or wrong here, use whatever works best for you. Ujjayi breathing, the Kriya Hong-Sau or Buddhist Soham methods are all similar and the foundation of more advanced practices.
A word of caution with breathing techniques – it is best to learn these under the guidance of an experienced teacher or following detailed instructions. The combination of focused attention and carefully timed inhalation and exhalation can have a powerful affect on the vital body. For many people a long period of focused attention is hard to maintain so you are unlikely to come to any harm if your timing is wrong. I have been told that 5 minutes a day incorrectly practising some techniques can quickly lead to psychiatric problems (the saving factor for many people is that they do not practice the method incorrectly with enough focused concentration to do any damage). If you follow the Ujjayi, Hong-Sau or Soham methods mentioned above you are unlikely to encounter any issues.
If all the above are too complicated, a simple and very effective way of learning to concentrate and focus is a simple candle meditation.
- Candle meditation – sit quietly in a dime room and stare at a lighted candle for about 30 seconds (unblinking). Close your eyes and concentrate on the image of the flame for 30 seconds or more. As it fades, open your eyes and repeat. Five to ten minutes of this a day is all that is required.