During this Week of Relaxation, we're applying meditation techniques inspired by The Relaxation Response to achieve a deep state of relaxation.  Yesterday, we attempted to achieve a state of pure passiveness.  Today, we will use an age-old trick of self-distraction in order to foster an even more passive mindset: the mantra.

No caption necessary.

Countless religious traditions have employed a repetitive linguistic strategy in order to achieve the goals of faith.  From memorized prayers to repeated words to simple sounds, many philosophies have relied on an internal cue to anchor attention to the task at hand.  However, one need not be religious to take advantage of this approach as a practical strategy for enhancing relaxation.  

Specifically, the goal for today is to settle on a one-word mantra to repeat during meditation.  The purpose of this little trick is self-distraction.  During passive meditation, the most difficult aspect is often a wandering mind: I frequently start thinking about all my usual worries.  Not fun!  By adopting a mantra, we can rely on the rhythmic quality of a repeated word to draw our attention away from icky thinking.


Task: Employ a mantra during a 15min meditation. 

Info: The rules are the same as yesterday: head to your meditation spot and meditate passively.  This time, incorporate a mantra as a gentle tool to maintain a passive state.  I recommend choosing a word that is one syllable and that makes you feel more relaxed.  My mantra word is "calm" but you can use any word you'd like (or sound, "OM" comes to mind).  When focusing on your mantra, be sure to maintain a passive approach - try not to force yourself to focus.  Finally, you can either say the word aloud or to yourself, but I like to repeat the word after each exhale.  Breathe-in, breathe-out, "Mantra".  Find a rhythm that works for you.  

Oh, one last tip: don't take this too seriously!  If you don't feel more relaxed, don't worry.  Meditation often takes practice to get used to it.  This applies to me, too.  I'm still trying to overcome feelings of restlessness during my relaxation sessions!

Goal: Enjoy your new mantra :)

What is your mantra?  Let us know in the comments....

Links: Return to the Week of Relaxation - Continue to the next Daily Mind Game

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