Are Mantras a form of meditation and mindfulness too?

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.
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Are Mantras a form of meditation and mindfulness too?

Post by Sonrisa » Mon Nov 08, 2010 3:33 pm

I have always wanted to sit silently to experience meditation. With no instructor, I have no patience to just be quiet and sit :meditate:

Recently, as I have been reciting the bodhisattva names, I finally realized what the mala beads really are for. They are a tool that aid in mindfulness.

Whenever my mind wanders away, I tug at the bead that I am at to gently bring my awareness back to what I am doing. Sure, I may not be "good" at all this yet but I am happy with my efforts.

I one time tried the following while taking a short walk. I took my smaller mala with me and recited Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva's name on each bead. To my surprise, I found my mind wandering less while reciting silently. Normally, when I walk, I think about a lot of things.

Also remembering when I was reciting, I felt immersed in the silence, solitude, and concentration and felt..calm (I dont know if this is the same "calm" that is experienced by zazen meditators).

Is reciting mantras a form of meditation as well as mindfulness too? I find I like this method of meditation. It is as if my mind is active yet mindful at the same time. I recently discovered I can apply this to my life too. With every breath I take, I try to bring it back (my mindfulness).

It's as if....taming the monkey mind :meditate:
Namo Amitabha
Namo Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva
Namo Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva

May I continue to practice loving-kindness and compassion for sentient beings. May my friends and loved ones be free from suffering. May those who have hurt me also be free from suffering.

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Re: Are Mantras a form of meditation and mindfulness too?

Post by fragrant herbs » Tue Nov 09, 2010 2:10 pm

I find if I also follow my breath, my mind becomes more calm.

I had a Zen teacher say that every now and then when you are meditating, ask, Who is doing the thinking? But don't answer. It actually stops thoughts. I have often used a different version, Who Am I? but only because it is shorter. There are many ways to calm the mind. Malas do work.

There is a Hindu guru who said this about chanting:

‘The rosary spins in the hand, the tongue spins in the mouth, the mind spins in four directions’

I actually don't believe that this is true, but I liked how it was put and so just wanted to post it. The mind can spin in four directions no matter how you practice but chanting and silent meditation are both powerful.

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Re: Are Mantras a form of meditation and mindfulness too?

Post by spiritnoname » Tue Nov 09, 2010 9:29 pm

Mantras are for mindfulness. Keeping in mind the qualities of the deity, their vows, their determination, their aspects of appearance that are the teachings (for example the paramitas being shown as the 6 ornaments of a Bodhisattva), our following in their footsteps as practitioners, and even emptiness as the mantra and deity arises from it.

When you are practicing in this way with a Buddhist mantra, you aren't just keeping your mental activity in mind, you are keeping the whole training in mind and if you operate in accordance with this training and then rejoicing in the goodness of the deity and the training, you'll develop a great bliss that will carry you through the rest of the training to liberation.

This is only on the level of Kriya, if you get the empowerment of Chenresig, even better Chenresig with nondual Mahamudra, the benefit will be much much more and your mantras will be a very powerful force for your development and other's.

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Re: Are Mantras a form of meditation and mindfulness too?

Post by Luke » Tue Nov 09, 2010 9:50 pm

Yes, reciting mantras are a form of meditation. It's basically shamatha, meditation with an object, and in this case, instead of your breathing being the object, the mantra is.

Mantras are also more than just objects to focus on: They actually are the deities in the form of sound and they have many benefits.

Good luck with your mantra recitations. You can't go wrong with "OM MANI PEME HUNG," although you can always learn more about it.

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Re: Are Mantras a form of meditation and mindfulness too?

Post by catmoon » Wed Nov 10, 2010 8:10 am

@ Sonrisa:

I think you are are the right path. I tried just reciting mantras, nothing else, and managed to bore myself into a foggy stupor that often took hours to go away completely. I might as well have been reciting nursery rhymes or nonsense poetry.

After some experimentation, I found that one can follow the sound of the mantra just as one follows the breath in other meditations. The mantra can become an object of focus, and a pointer to a set of thoughts to which one returns repeatedly as distractions occur.

Done this way, with full awareness of the meaning of the mantra, it becomes a form of meditation.
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