This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Mindfulness in Plain English" by Bhante Gunaratana. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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Do you have trouble starting meditation? Have you tried reciting mindfulness mantras?
Transitioning from the mind’s default state of wandering or compulsive thinking is one of the most difficult obstacles you will encounter as you begin your meditation practice. One way to ease yourself into it is to recite mindfulness mantras.
Here are some mindfulness meditation mantras for you to try out.
Mantras for Mindfulness Practice
It is tradition to begin meditation with a few mantras or recitations. Mindfulness mantras have a practical purpose for psychological cleansing and aren’t meant to be dogmatic rituals.
This recitation is used to overcome the hesitation when facing the large task ahead of you. Your mind is a jumble, and overcoming that looks like climbing a massive wall. Knowing that others have struggled with the same issues and succeeded should imbue you with confidence.
“I am about to tread the very same path that has been walked by the Buddha and by his great and holy disciples. An indolent person cannot follow that path. May my energy prevail. May I succeed.”
This wishes loving kindness on others. Repeat this recitation multiple times, replacing the blanks with these in order: I | my parents | my teachers | my relatives | my friends | all indifferent persons | all unfriendly persons | all living beings.
“May _______ be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to _____. May they always meet with spiritual success. May they also have patience, courage, understanding, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life. May they always rise above them with morality, integrity, forgiveness, compassion, mindfulness, and wisdom.”
Benefits of this Recitation
Mindfulness is egoless awareness. If you start with ego in full control, it is difficult to get mindfulness started. If your mind is in fury, it’s hard to focus during meditation.
This recitation overcomes the ego. Balance the negative emotion by instilling a positive one. Giving confronts greed; benevolence confronts hatred.
First you banish thoughts of self-hatred and self-condemnation, letting good wishes flow to yourself.
Then you expand out to other people, overcoming greed, selfishness, resentment, and hatred.
This is “universal loving friendliness.”
But you dislike your enemies. How can you wish well on your enemies?
- Realize that they are suffering, just like you and everyone else. If your enemies were well, happy, and peaceful, they wouldn’t be your enemies. If they were free of pain, suffering, paranoia, fear – they wouldn’t be your enemies. So the practical approach is to help them overcome their problems, so you can live in peace and happiness.
- In contrast, if you wish poorly on another person – “let him be poor. Let him fail. Let him be ugly” – this will generate a physiological stress response that handicaps you and makes you less pleasant to others.
- By wishing well on them, you practice noble behavior, which will more likely improve your enemy’s life and convert him from an enemy.
This is also useful to recite for bedtime and after rising. It makes it easier to get up in the morning. It blocks resentment from forming.
Both of these statements need to be consciously thought about and participated in. You can’t just recite empty words and expect a miracle.
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Here's what you'll find in our full Mindfulness in Plain English summary :
- How to practice mindfulness daily
- How to recognize emotions as they arise
- Why you have to let go of emotions for peace