“A person who experiences mental wandering while performing recitation will never achieve any result, even from reciting the mantra for an eon of time.”
Since ancient time, mantras have been part of many spiritual teachings. But why is this the case? Traditionally the word mantra means protecting the mind. But what is a mantra protecting? It is protecting the mind from straying into the past, present, and future. This is done by focusing on the mantra itself.
The main point of chanting a mantra is to stay mindful, with a single pointed concentration on the mantra itself. Thus if we start to recite the mantra from memory, rattling it off while at the same time we follow our thoughts to the past, present, and future, then the mantra is in reality doing nothing at all. The real key in chanting mantras is that we stay single pointedly focused on the mantra itself. This is why sometimes if we learn a mantra and, after a lot of practice, we start to feel that we are just rattling it off by memory, we might need to refocus our concentration again. We can do this by focusing, for example, on the syllables of the mantra. Or we may need to begin working with a new or longer mantra so that our concentration becomes more single pointed again.
The less we start to follow our thoughts about the past, present, and future by chanting a mantra, the more open and expanded our mind becomes. This in turn will create more resonance within our mind, body, and energy when we are chanting. This resonance will help to release all the issues we are holding so tightly, like fear, worry, anger, jealousy, attachments etc. The resonance is kind of shaking and opening everything up, which helps us to let go of all our clinging.
Imagine an empty singing bowl; tap it with a wooden stick and what happens? You get a very clear resonance which keeps rippling for a while. Now fill the bowl with stuff: a pen, a cup, your phone, a sock, you name it. Tap the singing bowl again; what happens now? No resonance, no ripple effect at all. Why is that? Because the bowl is filled with stuff, and the stuff is getting in the way of its singing!
This is the same when we chant a mantra, if our mind is filled with stuff about the past, present, and future there will be hardly any resonance or ripple effect. But if we keep chanting mindfully, we slowly start to empty out our mind of all our confused thinking. Our mind becomes more open and expanded and when we chant a mantra from this open expanded state of mind, the resonance and ripple effect might last the whole day! Thus one of the other key elements in chanting a mantra is to chant it from a state of mind of emptiness.
Some people ask me: “How long shall I recite a mantra, for one month or longer?” Mantras are there to help us to remember our true identity, the true identity in which we do not get distracted by the past, present, and future anymore. Thus why stop after a month or so? Keep chanting the mantra until we remember our true identity in its fullest. Or in other words, we have to chant the mantra until the day we are passing away.
After many years of practice we come to a space where our mind is focused all the time and it can rest in a state of emptiness without being carried away by the past, present, and future. In this space, we start to realize that every single word we utter is in fact mantra. In this space, with the singing bowl of our mind emptied of all its stuff, distractions, and confused thinking, our words and our energy can resonate freely, creating positive ripples to be shared with everyone we meet.