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
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
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
was in that just-waking-up stage where a long forgotten
part of me finally felt free enough to show itself.
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.
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
In Sanskrit the word "mantra" is derived from
two words – manas or "to think" or "mind," and
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
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
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)
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
Others to consider:
Om Advaitaya Namah (ohm
uhd-vai-TAI-uh nuh-muh)) – honor to that which is
Om Sri Kalikayai Namah (ohm
shree KAH-lee-KAH-YAI nuh'-muh) – grants mercy, in the
manner of a loving mother to her child.
Om Sri Maha Lakshmiyai Namah
(OHM shree muh-HAH luck-shmee-YAI nuh-muh) – serenity
of mind, humility, compassion.
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.")
Haro Hara (huh'-roh
huh'-ruh) – bestows knowledge of intuitive truth.
Om Sri Hanumate Namah (OHM shree huh-noo-muh-TEY nuh-muh)
– gives strength
and courage to discover the powers of the soul.
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.
Jaya Ganesha (jai'-uh
guh-nesh'uh) – profound wisdom through absorption of
sage counsel, ability to lead the multitude.
Ayam Atma Brahma
(uh-yum AHT-MAH bruh'-muh) – awareness that the self
within is the Divine self.