Mantra is a most effective form of meditation practise because it simultaneously involves many levels of our being. The body is involved in creating the sound; we feel the vibration, resonance and cadence of the mantra in our very limbs. The mind is focussed on the meaning of the mantra and on the challenge of keeping errant thoughts and distractions at bay. The heart opens, blossoms, sings and shines through the mantra as its various inner qualities are summoned and blossom.
Mantra can be the entire meditation, or can be used to open or close a session. In a group meditation, the chanting of a mantra commonly signifies that the session is commencing or concluding.
There are many ways to chant a mantra.
A mantra can be chanted in silence, softly under the breath, or powerfully out aloud; in a slow or swift rhythm; alone or in company with others. How we chant a mantra will depend on our circumstances and the force or quality we are invoking.
The time to chant a mantra silently might be when others are asleep or needing to be undisturbed or when we are in a public place. We might chant a mantra softly while gathering our focus into a calm control. A mantra is to be chanted loudly when power, resolution and conviction are demanded, or when we are chanting together in a group.
When we need something immediately, we chant a mantra rapidly and with urgency: for example if we are falling asleep and must summon instant energy, or if we find our concentration wavering at a critical moment. Conversely, when we need a quality from deep within – peace, poise, vastness or tranquillity – then a slow cadence is required. Fast is for urgency; slow is for depth.