Out of the Box Coaching and
    Breakthroughs with the Enneagram, Mary R. Bast, Ph.D. 
    Copyright 1999. All rights reserved. Revised: April 24, 2015






Choose Your Own Mantra

A colleague asked me, "Do you engage in daily practice of some sort? What do you do to tune up, tune in?"

In a general sense, my practice is the intention to stay present, to notice when "monkey mind" ego takes over and as in sitting meditation come back to the present. Often this means recognizing such triggers as anger, envy, hurt, or judgment and staying with the emotion, using what Stephen Cope in The Wisdom of Yoga refers to as restraint ("... the beginning of a process in which a pattern dies beginning with the outward and visible gross behavior, and culminating with the death of the root of the pattern").

Cope adds to his description of restraint: "These patterns, of course, take years or even lifetimes to be attenuated. But with each subtle attenuation comes an increasing sense of freedom and energy." Here's an example from "Eating the 'I'":

I can't always get out of the "grip," but I try to stay with it, to ask, "O.K., what's my ego doing? What defenses are up?" And I'm better at loving myself regardless of what I observe. The sweetest example is an incident that occurred years ago. I woke up early one morning and could all but see a little gremlin popping out of me, saying, "I'm no good!" It wasn't a dream I was in that just-waking-up stage where a long forgotten part of me finally felt free enough to show itself.  

I've also used mantra meditation for more than twenty years, since I found the book Choose Your Own Mantra. Chanting (sometimes singing) a mantra supports my intention to be mindful I might chant when I first awaken from sleep, right before I talk to a client, while I'm doing yoga, or even while biking. 

Some online resources present a "mantra" as an affirmation such as "I will be successful in my career" or "I will have plenty of money." This is not an approach I recommend, because these desires can reinforce ego-patterns rather than transcend them. A paradoxical mantra, though, may sound ego-based but can transcend ego, as in this mantra I helped an Eight client create: "I'm in control of needing to be in control."

In Sanskrit the word "mantra" is derived from two words manas or "to think" or "mind," and trai or "protect" or "free from." Thus, its literal meaning is "to free from the mind." Saying any word produces an actual physical vibration and when coupled with intention mantras carry high energy. At the same time, your ego-based thoughts pulse through you and you also subtly tune in to vibrations of others nearby. These myriad waves of sound continually riding through your mind will become absorbed by your mantra as you become attuned to its energy and intention. I prefer and recommend the Sanskrit instead of English because words in our own language have images that interrupt mantra chanting by causing the mind to wander.

Because Choose Your Own Mantra is no longer in print, I offer readers a few possibilities to consider: 

  • While in my graduate program I was attracted to the Sanskrit Om Sri Maha Saraswatjai Namah for its qualities of deep study, mystical and academic wisdom. I chanted this "dissertation mantra" morning and night and, without making a conscious connection, each day when I walked through the doors of the campus library where I researched and wrote, my heart filled with immense joy. 

  • I've chosen other mantras over the years; the most recent one an invitation to Divine Love, which reminds me to keep my heart open: Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya.

  • Let a mantra draw you toward it (your logical mind may want to discount this, but logic hasn't always worked for you, or you wouldn't have read this far).

Om Sri Maha Saraswatjai Namah (ohm shree muh-HAH suhr-uh-swuht-YAI nuh-muh) deep study, mystical and academic wisdom (OPEN MIND).

Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya (ohm nuh-MOH b'huh'-guh-vuh-TEY VAH-soo-dey-VAI-uh) invitation to Divine love (OPEN HEART).

Om So'Ham (ohm soh-hum) liberation from limitations of the body and lower mind (OPEN WILL).

Others to consider:

  1. Om Advaitaya Namah (ohm uhd-vai-TAI-uh nuh-muh)) honor to that which is non-dual.

  2. Om Sri Kalikayai Namah (ohm shree KAH-lee-KAH-YAI nuh'-muh) grants mercy, in the manner of a loving mother to her child.

  3. Om Sri Maha Lakshmiyai Namah (OHM shree muh-HAH luck-shmee-YAI nuh-muh) serenity of mind, humility, compassion.

  4. Om Namo Narayanaya (OHM' nuh-MO NAH-RAI-uh-NAI-uh) total liberation, the ability to dissolve obstacles resulting from egotism. (A great sage gave this mantra to his disciple, instructing that those who were not worthy should not hear it. The disciple immediately went onto the temple top and shouted it for all to hear. When the sage questioned his disobedience, the disciple replied, "I do not mind undergoing suffering if all these people can be freed.")

  5. Haro Hara (huh'-roh huh'-ruh) bestows knowledge of intuitive truth. 

  6. Om Sri Hanumate Namah (OHM shree huh-noo-muh-TEY nuh-muh) gives strength and courage to discover the powers of the soul.

  7. Om Sri Ramachandra Charanau Sharanam Prapadye (ohm shree RA-muh-chun-druh chuh-ruh-now'shuh-ruh-nuhm pruh-puhd-yey') surrendering all thoughts in service of the Divine.

  8. Jaya Ganesha (jai'-uh guh-nesh'uh) profound wisdom through absorption of sage counsel, ability to lead the multitude.

  9. Ayam Atma Brahma (uh-yum AHT-MAH bruh'-muh) awareness that the self within is the Divine self.