Focus, Mantra, Mandala and the Breath
About Focus, Mantra, Mandala and the Breath in Meditation.
Meditation is about focus. No focus, no meditation.
In mindfulness meditation, there are two main methods of focus: Focused Attention and Open Awareness.
Beginners are often taught Focused Attention.
Focused Attention is focus on a single point: on the breath, on a visual point (mandala meditation), or our voice, a chant or a phrase repeated in the mind (mantra meditation).
Focused Attention's main benefit is learning to become aware that your mind has wandered. Once you are aware, you can consciously choose where to focus your attention. You can exit the mind loops and the Autopilot and return to the present moment.
This is known as Presence or Mindfulness.
Most people in the modern world, most of the time, are on Autopilot or lost in mind loops. They can go through entire days and weeks like this. I know this because I did.
About Breathing, Mantra and Mandala Meditation
Breathing meditation can be challenging as it leaves us with our minds without distractions.
Breathing meditation is the best Focused Attention practice because it leaves our minds without distractions.
Mantra Meditation and Beginners
One in twenty new meditation students finds focusing on the breath uncomfortable. The most helpful solution is to move over to mantra meditation for a while.
Focusing on a single visual point can calm the mind of many meditators. Trataka practices and The Dzogchen clarity meditation are also powerful mandala meditations.
My recommendation for beginners and returning meditators is, to begin with breathing meditation. Then, after a few months, you can build mantra and/or mandala meditations into your practice.