by Steve McSwain
Speaker, thinker, activist and spiritual teacher; author, 'The Enoch Factor: The Sacred Art of Knowing God'
A mantra is a sound, syllable or group of words which, when recited, are regarded as capable of producing spiritual transformation (or so says Wiki). Actually, mantra is a word common in the eastern world and is itself made up of two words: man meaning "mind," and tra meaning "instrument." So, a mantra is "an instrument of the mind."
In eastern religions, and to a lesser degree in the mystical traditions of Christianity, meditators use mantras to center themselves and so bring health and wholeness to the inner self (or, greater unity between the mind, body and spirit). Benedictine monks regularly use scripture in this fashion. For example, they might recite in meditation over and over again the words, "The Lord is my shepherd" (from the 23rd Psalm).
In my own experience, I have made it an every-morning practice to meditate and recite the following mantras. This is the first time, however, I've actually written them down. This was itself a wonderful discipline.
In many respects, a New Year's Resolution is a kind of mantra. But, like mantras, resolutions must be practiced daily if you're serious about them becoming your way of living. Which is why, my first mantra is...
1. I will practice meditation every day.
This is no longer difficult. But, in the early days of becoming a meditator, it was extremely difficult to shut down the mind with its propensity to chatter almost incessantly. With persistence, however, and with time, my mind began to slowly shut down whenever I entered a state of meditation. Today, I would no more consider starting the day without first meditating than I would to go through a day without eating. Meditation is to my innermost self what food and nourishment is to the outer self, the body. Pema Chodron, the Buddhist monk, said, "We don't sit in meditation to become good meditators; we sit in meditation to become more awake in our lives." It is in meditating on the following mantras that the miracle of inner transformation takes place. I become that which I imagine. Or, in the slightly altered words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The antecedent to every behavior is a mantra." You are what you think about. So practice meditating on the following and see what happens. Read More