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Reciting a mantra during meditation can help you focus, calm and transform your mind. Mantra recitation is an aspect of Buddhist and Hindu spirituality, but you can use this type of recitation for mental and physical relaxation as well. It is known to relax the body, calm the mind, and develop compassion.
One of the most famous Tibetan Buddhist mantras is ‘OM MANI PADME HUM’. Known simply as the MANI, it is the mantra of the supremely compassionate Avalokiteśvara, the Tibetan Buddhist embodiment of compassion. What does it mean?
“When you say the first syllable Om it is blessed to help you achieve perfection in the practice of generosity, Ma helps perfect the practice of pure ethics, and Ni helps achieve perfection in the practice of tolerance and patience. Pä, the fourth syllable, helps to achieve perfection of perseverance, Me helps achieve perfection in the practice of concentration, and the final sixth syllable Hum helps achieve perfection in the practice of wisdom. So in this way recitation of the mantra helps achieve perfection in the six practices from generosity to wisdom.”
—Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones
One popular way of employing the MANI is to think compassionately towards all beings in the universe by slowly repeating the mantra at least 21 and preferably 108 times. Include human beings, animals, fish, birds, and insects. Remember to include yourself as an object of your compassion.
Mantra recitation is often practiced using a mala, a string of beads used for meditation and prayer. In Tibet, mantras are considered very powerful. In addition to being recited, sacred words or mantras are printed onto prayer flags. The mantras or prayers are carried on the wind and in turn bless the environment and its beings.
- Sit cross-legged on a cushion in a quiet, private space, where you won’t disturb anyone.
- Breathe deeply for a minute so to clear your mind. Then begin reciting the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM slowly in a low quiet voice. When thoughts intervene return to focusing on the mantra.
- After a few minutes continue to say the mantra and begin visualizing your words reaching all living beings and relieving them of their suffering. Be sure to include yourself.
- Do this for 108 recitations or one round on a mala beads rosary.
- End your meditation by sitting quietly and focusing on your breath for a few minutes.
When you have completed your meditation, you may add: “I dedicate my efforts for my highest benefit and for the highest benefit of all others” or whatever thoughts or prayers you may need to convey to bring peace and serenity into your daily life.