Day 4 Getting into the habit.
I would encourage you to just make a start. Choose your mantra and begin to pray it, and allow it to come to life in you. It really is that simple. There is no right or wrong way of praying it, there is just praying it. If you suddenly find you have gone ages without praying it, it is not a failure. When you realise you have not prayed it for a while, pray it. When you first begin to pray in this way it is often useful to have a particular moment when you do pray it so that you begin to associate certain routines of the day with praying the mantra. For example, if you travel to work by public transport you may begin by praying your mantra while walking to the bus stop or train station. If you have pets you could get into the habit of praying the mantra while feeding them each morning or evening. If you drive a car you might get into the habit of praying the mantra at the beginning of a journey. If you use a computer regularly take a few minutes to pray your mantra while waiting for it to load. If you use a diary write your mantra on the top of each day’s page to remind you to say it. If you stick at it, you will very soon find that praying the mantra becomes a very natural part of your life, a very natural way of reminding you of God’s loving presence in your life.
As I wrote yesterday, the daily routine tasks that we often find mundane and boring are an ideal time for praying the mantra. It gives extra meaning to the task, an opportunity to use it for prayer, and the monotony of the task often gives us the perfect rhythm for praying our word or sentence. If those mundane tasks are daily occurrences it means there is always that time in the day that we come to associate with praying our mantra.
Praying a mantra is a simple, no fuss, way of praying. A simple way of becoming aware of living in God’s presence; of remembering that God is a part of the whole of our lives. We often shy away from prayer because we over complicate it; praying a mantra reminds us to keep it simple. Prayer is simple. It is merely the methods we use and the routines we put around it that makes it difficult and complicated.
Think about how you can introduce the mantra prayer into your life, so that it is natural and simple. The way prayer should be.
On waking from sleep – Pray your mantra
With first conscious breath – Pray your mantra
At each pause in the day – Pray your mantra
Walking down the road – Pray your mantra
Preparing for worship – Pray your mantra
Beginning each task – Pray your mantra
Before leaving home – Pray your mantra
Waiting for a bus – Pray your mantra
If angry or anxious – Pray your mantra
Dealing with crises – Pray your mantra
Needing inspiration – Pray your mantra
Before eating a meal – Pray your mantra
Before resting or sleep – Pray your mantra
Your mantra is a river that flows through the day
It opens you to the holy
Places you in The Presence
Grounds you in the moment.
There is no hard and fast rule about when we do our meditation. It will depend on a number of factors. Some people, like me, are morning people and like to be up and about early. If so, first thing in the morning is a lovely time to meditate. It sets the marker for the day, the day can flow out of our quiet few moments with God. Others are not so chirpy in the morning! They leave getting up until the last minute and have time for very little while they get ready to go out to work. If that sounds like you it may not initially be a great time for your meditation, because it will become a burden and you will find yourself rushing it and skipping it; and then stopping all together. If morning is not great for you choose a different time. Maybe a lunch break. I know a few people who slip out from where they work find a nice quiet bench and meditate in a local park. Others will find it better to meditate when they get home, a good way to wind down before the evening begins. Some may find it easier just before they go to bed. I have even known people from very busy, noisy, households who have done their 5 minute meditation while sat on the loo! Whatever works for you! Each of us needs to consider our daily patterns and choose a moment when we think it will best fit in.
For me, when we meditate is less important than actually committing ourselves to a daily meditation. While it is probably best to meditate more or less around the same time each day for it to become ingrained, the actual time needs to be one we feel most comfortable with. For some people it may just be impossible to have the same time each day, which is fine, as long as we remember to schedule it in. While meditating every day is good for establishing its pattern in our lives and for it to take root in us, there may well, of course, be occasions when that is just not possible. We should not become paranoid about it, or feel guilty about it, simply begin again as soon as you can.
The advantage of meditating with the same mantra which we also use in our daily round of prayer, is that if we do miss a day we can at least pray our mantra while walking for the bus, cooking the dinner, or during some other activity. Praying the mantra in daily life is an extension of our period of meditation; and our meditation is an extension of our daily prayer. The two flow into each other.