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Mantra Meditation

Mantra Meditation
distractions mantra chanting krishna bhakti
11/24/18 8:39 PM
Hello all,

I am 26 years old, male, from San Antonio, TX. I have done moderate concentration meditation here and there for a few years, but nothing too serious. After I started going to my local Hare Krishna (ISKCON) temple a few months back, I started doing Japa mala with the Hare Krishna mahamantra (Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare) as well as some bhakti yoga (food offerings, prayer, etc.) Even though I am not necessarily an Advaita vedantist, I like the imagery of Gaudiya Vaisnavaism, and appreciate the symbolism of Krishna representing the potential for awakening within us all. It definitely reminds me personally of Crowley's Holy Guardian Angel concept that I could go on about, but I digress...

While mantra meditation does seems to be effective in terms of having something specific and tangible to focus on, I also find that I'm distracted by breaths interrupting my mantra and sometimes excessive yawning. Anyone else have this problem?

When I really get into the chanting, I have found that the mantra speeds up faster and faster, sometimes to the point where I can't even pronounce the words anymore, just sort of hum it externally while chanting internally. I tend start off with a more singsong quality but that usually pretty quickly drops to a low pitch, very monotone mumble, almost like a Tibetan throat chant.

Another thing, is that I find japa mala being more of a meditation pre-cursor than a particularly good practice in and of itself. That is, I might do 2-3 rounds of japa, and when I find myself feeling slightly dissociative, like my body has disappeared and i'm focused totally on the mantra, I will drop out of the chanting and focus entirely either on my breath (In-out, Chokmah-Binah, rising-falling, etc.) or simply keep chanting internally. It seems that doing this pre-meditation chanting sort of clears my mind, allowing me to more easily focus on something.

I'm trying to become a bit more proficient at concentration before I really start doing vipassana, about which I have questions that I shall post in another, more appropriate thread.

If anyone thinks I should try something else or change something, let me know. Comments, questions or suggestions are more than welcome!

RE: Mantra Meditation
11/25/18 5:46 AM as a reply to Graven Image.
Hi GI, I just responded to your other post on vipassana.

It sounds like you're getting some good results using a mantra. Mantras can do all sorts of weird and interesting things once they get rolling and our concentration increases. When you say that your mantra is getting interrupted by the breath, are you chanting out loud or internally? Generally, an internal mantra works better for building concentration, although it can be very nice to chant out loud especially as a sort of warm-up like you've observed.

Since you're also interested in vipassana practice and enjoy using mantras, you might check out (also hosted by Daniel) and consider trying fire kasina meditation. Using the after-image of a candle flame plus an internally recited mantra is basically a samatha-vipassana (concentration plus insight) fusion practice that can be a lot of fun and very effective for cultivating insight. Just keep in mind when you read/listen to other people's experiences that they may be extremely skilled and experienced practitioners who've spent hundreds of hours on retreat working with this practice. If you're less experienced and just using it as a daily practice your results are unlikely to be as spectacular, but that doesn't mean it isn't extremely worthwhile.

RE: Mantra Meditation
11/26/18 1:56 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Thank you for responding to both my posts Andromeda.

I do tend to chant out loud, at least to start as this allows me to basically drown out my thoughts. As I get more focused, I bring it down. I will definitely have to check out that website thanks.

Thanks also for the advice about not thinking too much about the vipassana. After I just started focusing on my breath, I started allowing myself to notice and note the other sensations. I guess the goal is simply to be as aware as possible of all sensations one is experiencing. It's a very intense kind of meditation I've never experienced before! 

RE: Mantra Meditation
11/26/18 4:44 AM as a reply to Graven Image.
Graven Image:
I guess the goal is simply to be as aware as possible of all sensations one is experiencing. It's a very intense kind of meditation I've never experienced before! 

Yeah, that's basically it in a nutshell! And you are quite right that it can be a very intense meditation, especially when you are first getting used to it. I see Neko kindly gave you more specific feedback on your other post which you should also find very helpful.

Have you read the chapter on insight in MCTB2? If you haven't yet, that would be a very good idea.

RE: Mantra Meditation
11/26/18 5:08 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Yes, Neko's advice was welcome and very succint, which I appreciate.

[font="times new roman", times, serif]I have not read MCTB2 unfortunately. I am almost done with MCTB1 (being a gift from a friend, it's turned out to be a blessing!). When I finish it, i'm going to get the revised version and read it immediately.

I understand the basics of insight, but I just tend to overanalyze and wasn't quite sure how to deal with some of my specific concerns, but that has been addressed thanks to this awesome website. Once I've practiced vipassana a bit more, say a few months, I think i'll look into a retreat.