The style of meditation I teach is a mantra-based meditation. A mantra is a sound, or a vibration. In Sanskrit ‘manas’ means mind, and ‘tra’ means instrument, or tool. Mantra translates to ‘instrument of thought’. A mantra is part of the technique used in Deep Meditation I have been teaching since 2005 on a one-on-one basis, or to small groups. This individual instruction provides students with independence within their practice. The practice is very portable and follows you anywhere you go; you do not need to belong to a group or any institution. Among its many benefits, mantra-based meditation helps those who practise it to be calm, cultivate well-being, and gradually become self-reliant.
I started my own daily practise of this traditional type of meditation more than 25 years ago. It was easy to learn, natural to practise, and brought me rewards right from the beginning. During a mantra-based meditation like Deep Meditation, the meditator uses a mantra in a simple act of repetitive silent speech to help exert calm, or mental quiescence, without the need for intense concentrative efforts. Today, I would like to share with you a recent study about the efficiency of mantra repetition and its calming effect on the brain.
In a study published in 2015 in the Brain and Behavior, a scientific journal, scientists observed that repetitive speech, even in untrained subjects, elicits widespread deactivation or reduction in cortical activity. These regions of the brain include the thought-related Default Mode Network (DMN), which relates to a variety of self-related processes, such as predicting and planning the future, mind wandering, and stimulus-independent thought. Also, these functions have been linked to emotional stress. This study suggests a neurophysiological explanation that accounts for the relaxing power of mantra recitation, and shows that repetitive speech has a readily observable functional MRI (fMRI) signature, hence a significant reduction in thought-related cognitive processes. It is with great joy that I read this article last week because it confirms what my teachers and many years of tradition have taught us. If you are interested in reading all the details about this study, here it is.
In Deep Meditation training you will receive a tool, a mantra, to help you meditate effortlessly. From your first meditation experience you will spontaneously experience calmness, inner silence, or stillness of the mind. It is natural for your mind to rest and mantra-based meditation is a technique that allows this to happen. Such experiences are also called ‘yoga’, another Sanskrit word that translates to union, or connection, or if you prefer a state of unity within. Mantra-based meditation is a tool to experience the calm within. It is simple, natural, non-religious, and available to you.
Once a month, or as needed, I offer an introduction to Deep Meditation that you can attend for free. In this session you can ask all your questions and learn more about all the benefits of this deep meditation practice.
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Rest is an essential part of the creative cycle and therefore the cycle of life. Everything in nature moves within the following steps: creation, maintenance, and dissolution. Each breath you take has its full cycle, each task you face, each meal you take, and each smile you make 😉 Think of the cycle of one day that begins when you wake up, lasts until you prepare to go to bed, and ends with sleep. Deep rest during sleep state is essential to allows for the next cycle to begin from the highest place. If you’ve had a good night sleep, the next day will go pretty smoothly even when obstacles come your way, and you’ll find inspiration and solutions more easily. However, if you haven’t rested deeply enough, you’ll need other strategies to help you cope with the ups and downs of life .
Daily meditation is a great tool for you to recharge fully and bring efficiency to your actions. It is the best way I know to enhance your quality of sleep, as tensions, like anxiety, are released in deep meditation, which in turn supports your ability to rest. It is in the rest and digest after the final phase of each cycle that space is given for inspiration to arise and for new projects and ideas to emerge. (In Tantra Philosophy we refer to two more steps in the cycle of life: concealment and revelation, which will be the theme of a future blog.) Without balance between rest and play, our nervous system ages faster, our quality of life reduces and clarity of mind is impaired.
In preparation for and during the holiday season, make sure you get enough rest. Not only will most of us be given many opportunities to celebrate, but we’ll receive from our bodies and minds lots of invitation to rest! While work, play, and celebration are necessary, and often fulfilling parts of life, a balanced lifestyle includes equal portions of rest and play.
Here is some advice to end 2016 in an auspicious way, which will help you begin the New Year optimally energized.
“Take pauses; say “no, thanks”; sleep; and meditate to sustain your tranquility. Rest gives you time to be with yourself, lie in your own arms and feel who you are. When you rest, your connection with life and its cycles is restored and deepened, opening your heart, so you can celebrate life.”
“Play naturally follows pleasure: say “yes”; cultivate the activities that bring you joy and stimulate your creativity. Feast on gatherings with your favourite people. Be where sacred space opens – a space where your dreams and blessings can be shared and heard.”
“You are a human being, not a human doing. You are meant to be in harmony with yourself, enjoying life in all its forms and offerings.”
Rest, play, and celebrate the deep beauty of being human with those you love. Have a really happy Holiday Season!