The foundation of Yoga, indeed the foundation of spiritual practice is mantra meditation. Why? Because it’s the most reliable way for regular contact with source, with our own pure being.
As regular readers know, I recommend an effortless meditation, not a concentration or contemplation approach. While these other options may be useful for other reasons, for the core practice you want to dive right in.
If you study some of the background to mantra yoga, you can become familiar with the profoundity of the practice. Also it’s presence in all ancient traditions. And it’s diversity of uses. Specialized mantras can be used for healing, attracting a mate, wealth, abilities, and more. However, because of the power of such practices, you can be literally playing with fire if you are not properly trained. It’s not only about sound but several aspects of technique. It’s way too easy to throw things out of balance energetically when you’re operating at deep levels.
But this does shed light on an important point. When we’re settled in meditation, our mind becomes very powerful. If we follow our practice correctly, all will be well. However, if we treat our practice sloppily and develop bad habits, we may get unintended side-effects.
For example, the texts speak of sattvic sankalpa or good intention. Sattvic intentions are focused on liberation, the good of all, soul intentions and true needs. If we spend our time in meditation dwelling on what we want or don’t have, we’re not actually meditating properly. And we may be culturing unwanted strengthening of the ego or energy imbalances (rajas). Similarly, if we’re dwelling on controlling or negative thoughts about others, we’re culturing inertia (tamas), the opposite of what meditation is for.
The old saying that what you give your attention to grows stronger is especially true in deep meditation.
This is not to say such thoughts will not come up naturally in meditation. The point is – are we dwelling on them? Are we fighting with them? Are we culturing bad habits in our practice? If not, all is well.
Never underestimate the power and benefit of a proper practice, done well. There’s good reason it’s widely considered sacred.