In Indian tradition, Mantra plays an important role in Dhyana process. It will therefore be desirable to explore its relevance and the way it works. Mantra is usually a set of syllables placed in a logical sequence to create a particular sound effect. It could be just a seed letter, syllable, word, or a set of words. That, as a sequel to stress created and uttered by mouth, is heard by ears, and apprehended by mind. Mantra is so called because it involves a mental process. The word comprises of ‘mana’ out of ‘manana’ and ‘tra’ from ‘trana’. In Hindi lingua-franca ‘mana’ means mind; ‘manana’ implies reflection in mind; and ‘trana’ stands for liberation. So, chanting of mantra helps attain liberation from mental limitations, and therefore, serves a great purpose. For, it happens to be a radiant energy, rather a sound-body of consciousness, set in correspondence with the consciousness of the related imagery. Following repeated chanting with focus on the related imagery, consciousness of the seeker comes in harmony with that of the mantra and the imagery. Eventually, with time, the seeker’s consciousness becomes one with the eternal element of consciousness.
While pursuing the process, one is continuously confronted with distracting thoughts that drifts our attention away from the focal point, again and again. So, you won’t have an easy go. Don’t confront those distracting thoughts. If you ever do that, they will stay put in mind, and keep visiting again and again. The only way out is training one’s mind not to pay attention to them. It needs to be appreciated here that unless you pay attention to something, it won’t bother you.
Continue chanting and try to bring back attention to the imagery sought after again and again. Gradually, the distracting thoughts go out of reckoning. You may then be able to remain focused for a longer stretch of time. Let me add here that when the sound notes of the mantra resonate to the imagery in focus, with time, one gets so involved that distracting thoughts go out of sight. Once fully established in the process, mind becomes one pointed. In the process, one also inculcates a value system, coming as it may with the educative import of the imagery in focus.
As one gets established in the dharana process, the seeker is in harmony with the imagery and its related educative import, as well as the resonating mantra. State of dhyana is thus arrived at. Pursuing the process further, one reaches a stage when mantra, though playing in the background, but apparently goes unnoticed. One remains steadfast with the concept synonymous with the imagery in focus. This state is termed as being in savikalpa samadhi (immersed in the iconic figure targeted). With time even the iconic figure drops. Following which the mantra, the imagery, and the mind become one seamless awareness, which means attaining the state of nirvikalpa (formless) samadhi.
In samadhi, all thoughts, whether pertaining to the past or future get dropped. The sense of past and future having been lost, nothing is there to process in immediate terms. Mind, therefore, is at peace. You then live in just your present moment, which is termed as mindfulness.
The question now is: If all about life, including the mind, involves play and interplay of nature driven energies, always pulsating, how comes mind would become inactive and be at peace? Well, it can never become immobile the way a running vehicle is halted. But pursuing dhyana, a state is arrived at when mind is in perfect harmony with the element of consciousness. The unitary mind then submerges with the cosmic mind. Mind then becomes an integral part of nature’s flow, and so is at peace with self and the rest. Just the way someone doesn’t have a feel of earth spinning at such a great speed while standing on its plane. For, the person and the earth become synonymous. This is what may mean attaining a state of Yoga. In this state, mind enters an infinite domain having no distinctive existences. It is something like a river stream merging with the ocean. In that state the river water loses its identity and becomes one with the ocean. Having thus struck upon the core of existence, mind realises its wholesome nature, when it has nothing more to explore. The unitary mind having thus been dropped the sense of individualistic existence too goes away. That leaves no scope for any comparison or differentiation and hence at peace by the self and with the rest.