In this edition of Ask the Expert, clinical psychologist Maria Sirois, PsyD, who teaches the Kripalu Healthy Living program Rejuvenate and Reclaim Life After 40, talks about the challenges and opportunities of midlife—and how mindfulness can make all the difference. Q Can practicing yoga and meditation help us live longer, healthier lives? A Research shows […]
Wayne Nato, guest blogger The Yoga Service Conference, held this past June at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, brought together leading teachers and organizations who are using yoga and mindfulness practices to help people in underserved communities change their lives. The conference is a unique and intimate opportunity to forge relationships, build skills, and get inspired. This […]
An excerpt from Devotion: A Memoir, by Dani Shapiro After returning home from Kripalu, I promised myself that each day I would practice metta meditation for at least fifteen minutes. Having been on retreat for three days, I didn’t think this was a particularly tall order. Surely I had the discipline to sit still for […]
Sharon Salzberg, guest blogger In northeastern India, there is a town called Bodh Gaya, which formed around the tree the Buddha was sitting under when he became enlightened. In 1971, an 18-year-old New Yorker named Sharon Salzberg traveled to Bodh Gaya and took her first intensive meditation course. Motivated by “an intuition that the methods […]
In this edition of Ask the Expert, meditation teacher and senior Kripalu faculty member Bhavani Lorraine Nelson answers questions from readers like you.
My mind races when I sit. Can mantras help?
The reason I cover five or six different techniques in my Introduction to Meditation program is because not every type of meditation is effective for everyone. Some people thrive on simply sitting with the breath; for others, the breath is very ephemeral, so the mind has free rein to wander. Some concentration practices can be more engaging for the mind and help it to quiet down. Mantra is one of those—it can be helpful for people who find it difficult to sit simply with the breath.
Recent scientific research on mantra practice shows that it is very soothing to the nervous system because of the repetition. Setting an intention when repeating a mantra adds to the power of the practice. There are different mantras for different goals; practitioners can create a “family” of mantras to use at specific times and for specific purposes. It’s important, though, to have a primary mantra, just as you have a primary yoga practice. To find one, you might start with Thomas Ashley-Farrand’s book Healing Mantras. Choose a mantra that you’re drawn to and can imagine wanting to repeat often.
Is it “cheating” to visualize pretty patterns and concentrate on those, to stop “thinking”?