The wonderful experiences that are linked with meditation can be further enhanced by using some ancient ‘tools’ that are still available to us today. These time-honoured tools can add to our meditation techniques and may help us to go deeper than ever, as well as helping to enable the “goalless goals” of our meditations.
Three centuries-old tools: mantras, malas and mandalas, are renowned for improving our focus and helping to achieve the state of ‘no-mind’ more easily. Proper use of these aids are said to be able to revitalize many people’s meditation sessions so they can reach their desired state of oneness more quickly and easily. If you find that you need to put in a lot of time and effort to meditate, you may wish to give them a try.
A mantra is usually the ongoing repetition of a specific sound, word or phrase to help to generate a trance-like state when chanted repeatedly with small pauses in between. One basic and ancient mantra is ‘Aum’ or ‘Om’ which is said to be a 4-syllable word: ah, oh, oom, and silence.
A mala is a rosary — a circle of beads on a string — that is used during meditation, often specifically for counting mantras. Malas are an ancient tool used in a wide number of religious rituals and spiritual activities. When used during meditation a mala can create a deep connection with one’s true self guiding us deeper in the realm of inner consciousness. Malas come in all sizes, colors and materials giving us the freedom to choose the one that best suits our preferences and objectives. Many malas also contain a head or ‘guru’ bead which is larger in size than the other beads. Traditionally it symbolizes the end of a round and so marks the time to say a special prayer.
The mandala, another great meditation aid, is a diagram that helps a meditator to achieve a higher state of mind with lesser effort. It is usually a highly complex pattern of various geometric shapes and figures. It comes in handy especially for beginners who may find it hard to keep their focus and get distracted easily. By gazing at the mandala, the shapes are meant to communicate directly with the subconscious mind, encouraging it to let go of anything that it might be holding on to.
Ultimately, we are taught that any tools and techniques that are used for meditation need to be dropped, so that we become pure consciousness without effort. If you are finding that getting to that place is a challenge, however, it may be worth giving malas, mandalas or mantras a try.