Concentration and Use of a Mantra

This is a time-tested and well-favored concentration method. Typically, you use a two syllable mantra, silently intoning the first syllable on the inhalation and the second syllable on the exhalation.

There are scores of possible mantras, and it really just depends on your personal preference. Many claims are made about the efficacy of specific mantras, or regarding the suitability of certain mantras for certain people. Much of this is just magical thinking – any of the standard mantras will do fine. Examples of a few of these are:

so-ham
ham-so
shiv-o
bud-dho
ay-am
shee-am
na-ma

The point is not to connect the mantra to any specific meaning but rather to fully experience the mantra, as we do with the breath during breath meditation.

A different technique is to use a meaningful phrase in order to instill an affirmation. In this case, be sure to choose something that is not only meaningful to you, but is also non trivial. You can use single words like "love", "compassion", "wisdom" etc. or short phrases Each time you say the word or phrase, allow its meaning to you to "sink in", waiting for a felt recognition of that meaning before repeating it again – even if this requires more than one full breath per repetition.

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