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A mantra is a sacred word or phrase which is repeated continually often given to you by your teacher.

I learned this form of meditation from John Main via his book ‘Silence and Stillness in Every Season’.

It is so simple you could tweet it (almost):

“Sit down. Sit still and upright. Close your eyes lightly. Sit relaxed but alert. Silently, interiorly begin to say a single word. We recommend the prayer-phrase maranatha. Recite it as four syllables of equal length. Listen to it as you say it, gently but continuously. Do not think or imagine anything – spiritual or otherwise. If thoughts or images come, these are distractions at the time of meditation, so keep returning to simply saying the word. Meditate each morning and evening for between twenty and thirty minutes.”

After years of experimentation with this and other forms of meditation I can recommend the use of a mantra to give the wandering mind a bone to chew on – and the stillness that results has a benign effect which permeates your soul simply through practice – trust me and try it.

To be honest … the mantra can be anything you find helpful – ‘spiritual’ or not. “The Lord is my Shepherd” is a favourite. Not mine – too old school. It is not in the meaning but in the maintenance of a focus for the mind where the effectiveness lies.

Which is why my meditations break all the rules. As John Main says “If thoughts or images come, these are distractions.” So why am I sharing with you a book of distractions? A series of images that came to me spontaneously and which, after a while, I started to write down. Because I trust the process. I have a visual imagination. Dina Glouberman on Skyros said I have “a healing imagination”. Sounds good to me – so I trust it. These images help keep the mind occupied with the mantra … and in so doing create the stillness which is the objective of meditation.

If you want to know how to still the mind AND keep it entirely free of thoughts or images … ask someone else and then let me know.