Episode #5 of the course 10 easy meditations to bring calm to your everyday life by John Robin
Welcome to Day 5 of the course!
Yesterday, we explored metta meditation. I hope you’ve been able to use it at least once in your day, especially during those stressful moments that can lead to anger, anxiety, or worry. Of course, let’s not forget about eating meditation to improve digestion and those idle moments where you can alternate between open and directed awareness.
Today, we’re going to add a fifth meditation to our tool kit, one that taps into yet another dimension of transcendence.
The Power of the Vocal Brain
Stop for a moment to think about what your thoughts are.
You will notice that they fall into categories:
• auditory, i.e., things you hear, remember hearing, or imagine hearing
• visual, i.e., things you see, remember seeing, or imagine seeing
• sensory, i.e., things you feel, remember feeling, or imagine feeling
Let’s focus on the auditory category.
Transcendental meditation is the use of repeated auditory thoughts to induce deep relaxation. The stereotypical form we are all familiar with is sitting with crossed legs and repeatedly chanting, “Om.” However, this practice, while rooted in meditation tradition, is just one way to channel the mental process that transcendental meditation invokes.
“Om” is an example of a mantra. A mantra is a word or phrase that you chant repeatedly, usually in time with your breathing. Om is a great mantra because it is easy to carry on your out-breath. It vibrates in your throat and has a hypnotic effect.
Unfortunately, it will get you strange looks if you stop and use it right now at the office.
I’m going to give you a different kind of mantra to work with so you can stop right now and practice transcendental meditation. No one but you will know you’re doing this!
Here it goes:
1. Let your eyes lose focus. Close them, if you’re comfortable and able.
2. Take in a deep breath. In. Out.
3. Now, say these words with your next breaths:
“I” (breathe in)
“Am” (breathe out)
“Here” (breathe in)
“Now” (breathe out)
“In” (breathe in)
“This” (breathe out).
“I am here now in this.” This is your mantra. It takes three breaths to complete it. One word for each half of a breath.
4. Keep repeating this as long as you’re able. Think about the words as you repeat them with each breath.
5. When you’re finished, refocus and return your focus to the present.
Do it now.
I gave you this mantra because it is highly meaningful. These words focus your mind on the simple truth of what you’re doing as you repeat it: being present. Every time you breathe in, then breathe out, you are living life, here, now, in this.
Breath is the unit of your life, the deepest you can go in experience. The more you can live meaningfully in every breath, the more you can deepen mindfulness and meaning in your life.
Science has told us a little about transcendental meditation as well. It activates the parts of your outer brain called the temporal and occipital lobes. These are the parts of your brain above and around your ears and at the very back of your head. Studies suggest that the activation of these regions through transcendental meditation can reduce anxiety and other mental disorders .
Transcendental meditation requires a mantra spoken aloud or repeated quietly by way of using the voice in your head. Though you will gain the most benefit by practicing it longer and using a spoken mantra like “Om,” you can practice it more frequently, every day, by way of a silent mantra you work into your breaths, such as, “I am here now in this.”
Your homework is to spot moments when you are frantic or caught up in a flurry of thinking or worrying. These are the best moments to stop, take a breath, then repeat your mantra. The more you can learn to associate these moments with opportunities to use transcendental meditation, the more you can bring calm to your everyday life, especially in those moments when you truly need it.
Give yourself bonus points if you also can work the occasional metta meditation into these kinds of moments. Think of all the meditations I’ve given you so far as yoga postures—they all work together to achieve the overall effect of deeper mindfulness, and your practice is learning when to use them to continually improve.
Tomorrow, we’ll be exploring yet another frontier of practical meditation, this one in the form of walking.
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