By Swami Satrupananda
We teach this saying to our children to help them be resilient to hurtful words.
Sticks and stones may break my bones
but words shall never hurt me.
The reality is that words hurt. They don’t only hurt children, they hurt everyone. Words are powerful. Unfortunately, they are sometimes used to be hurtful. As children we are taught to say nice words to others.
But what do you say to yourself? Too few of the thoughts you think are positive, encouraging and uplifting. Instead, you worry about the future, remember hurtful memories or complain about the present. Perhaps you compare yourself to others or wish for things you don’t have. Your mind harasses with you with all these thoughts.
This was my main takeaway from my first meditation retreat. I had graduated from the university. I was taking a semester off before starting graduate school. Travelling in Southeast Asia, I decided to take a 10-day meditation retreat. I was in a peaceful, tropical monastery, being fed delicious vegetarian meals and receiving ancient teachings. It seemed like it was great.
But during my meditations, I was in hell. My mind harassed me relentlessly. It reminded me of my most hurtful memories and biggest fears for the future. While I was horrified by what my mind was doing, I was grateful to be aware of it.
Even though your mind can harass you, your mind is not being bad. It is doing exactly what it is designed to do. Your mind is designed to distract you from the truth of your own existence. Your existence is the One Divine Existence that has always existed and will always exist. The One Divine Existence is the basis of existence for everyone and everything.
In some way, you can give your mind a bit of credit. It has the enormous job of blocking you from the Truth of your Existence. You are Existence Itself. How powerful is your mind and your thoughts that it can block you from Existence Itself?
Yet while your mind is doing a formidable job, you are not enjoying its harassment. As a human being, you have the incredible ability to actively choose what you think. You can even choose to know your own Self which is beyond your mind. You can experience and live in the knowingness and beingness of your own Divine Existence. Yoga is the methodology that gets you there.
To manage your harassing mind, yoga highly recommends mantra repetition:
Mananaat traayate iti mantra.h
Mantra is that which protects and uplifts one who contemplates it.
Yes, you need protection from your mind. Mantra is a Sanskrit phrase that names your own Divine Existence. Repeating your Divine Name, again and again, will protect you from the thoughts you normally think. It is a huge upgrade to what you normally repeat.
From repeating your Divine Name, you get more than protection. Researchers have shown that positive thinking can reduce your chance of a heart attack, lower your blood pressure and lengthen your life span. Positive thinking also gives you more creativity, greater problem-solving skills and clearer thinking.
Mantra repetition gives you all these benefits and more. You are not merely thinking positively. You are calling your own Divine Name. What happens when you call someone’s name? They respond. When you repeat your own Divine Name, your own Divine Existence shows up.
Sanskrit is a mystical language that specializes in names for your own Divine Existence. There are millions of Sanskrit mantras that you can repeat. The most powerful mantra is one from a Meditation Master who knows their own Divine Existence. They repeated the mantra to come to know their own Divine Existence.
When they share the mantra with you, they put their blessings into it. This is called a chaitanya mantra, an enlivened mantra. The mantra is enlivened with the Master’s own knowing of the One Divine Existence. Swami Nirmalananda is such a Meditation Master. She gives you an enlivened mantra.
The mantra only protects and uplifts you if you repeat it. So your job is to repeat mantra, all the time. With our mantra, you use it for meditation and also throughout your day. You can repeat the mantra when you get out of bed in the morning. Repeat the mantra while you brush your teeth and bathe. Repeat mantra while you eat and drink. Repeat mantra while you drive. Repeat mantra when chatting with your friend. Repeat mantra while you work.
You have proven that you can think while doing all of these things. Now your task is to repeat your own Divine Name, the mantra, instead. While this is a simple task, it is not necessarily easy. But it is worth the effort to remember to repeat your own Divine Name, the mantra the Guru gives you. The mantra protects you and uplifts you to the knowing of your own Divine Existence.