A mantra protects the mind.
Mantra is a Sanskrit word which means mind protection.
We recite words to enable our mind to focus and stay concentrated.
Traditionally the words were Sanskrit, an ancient India language.
However, we can use words from our language to allow our mind to stay focused on our chosen object of meditation.
For example, when we train in meditation on gratitude, we can bring to mind a feeling of deep appreciation for the good fortune that we have and have had in our lives, and reflect on the kindness that we have received from others.
When we have a feeling of gratitude in our heart, we focus our attention on it. We calmly abide with the feeling of gratitude, as though we become this emotion. There is no separation between ourself and gratitude.
At this point the mind can become distracted, we start to think about something else, or the feeling of gratitude fades as it is quite subtle and our mind can be familiar with going to external objects outside of our us.
This is where the grateful mantra can be of great use to us.
As we breathe in, we think to ourself while remembering gratitude, ‘ I am so fortunate.’
As we breathe out, we remember the kindness that we have received from others, and we think to ourself, ‘Others are so kind.’
This becomes a breathing mantra.
We focus on our breathing which allows us to stay concentrated and combine this process with the words and feeling of gratitude.
This method helps to rekindle the mind of gratitude that we already have, bring it to the forefront of our mind, and stay focused on this positive mental attitude.
We can train in a formal meditation setting for a set period, or it can be done for a few moments when we are engaged in our daily activities.
We pause, breathe in, remember gratitude, remember the words, allow the mind to rest in gratitude, breathe out, remember others kindness, move on with a positive, focused mind.