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    Thread: WILD Session 5: Mantras and Why They Matter

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      WILD Session 5: Mantras and Why They Matter

      The Oxford English Dictionary, an old-fashioned paper tome, defines mantra as “A sacred text or passage, especially one from the Vedas used as a prayer or incantation.” Also: “A holy name, for inward meditation.” Mantra itself is descended from ancient Sanskrit for “Instrument of thought.”

      But none of that matters much here.

      For us, a mantra is something much simpler. Further down the OED’s listing is an addition it made some 50 years ago, which reads: “Forms of speech which carry a material effect upon the mind, emotions or body, or even on things…” That’s much closer to our purposes here; also it omits the religious nod, a direction toward which this class does not need to steer.

      How then might I define a mantra, as relating to WILD? A mantra for our purposes is a simple word or phrase of your choosing that you repeat to yourself throughout the front half of your WILD dive (the “Lie down, hold still, and wait” part). The presence of the mantra will help to keep your focus and to stay on the narrow path of waking awareness as your body falls asleep. For WILD, a mantra can act as a verbal reminder of what you are doing (and why, if you chose well) while everything around you tries to persuade you that you are not doing it.

      The mantra you choose to use should be easy to remember, simple to repeat either out loud and to yourself, and, above all, your mantra must be meaningful to you. This is important, because if you simply grab a couple of words off the shelf because they seem appropriate or, worse, because someone else told you to use them, then your mantra will likely not work well for you, even if you manage to remember to repeat it.

      This is because the mantra you use must pierce several layers of your psyche in order to be useful as an anchor for waking consciousness, and all anchors must have weight. That weight is nothing more than the meaning attached to your mantra. For instance, “I am dreaming” is a very popular off-the-shelf mantra among LD’ers, its “weight” diminished, I think, by the obvious message it speaks. Though popular, adapting such a phrase because many others said they did so will never make it a good mantra if the words mean nothing important to you. No meaning equals no weight, which amounts to a very weak anchor…not to mention that a phrase like “I am dreaming” can easily be adapted by your dreaming mind (especially during this vulnerable time, per Session 4), incorporated into a non-lucid, leading to a false lucid and loss of your WILD. So make sure that mantra means something!

      How should you choose a meaningful mantra? First, don’t pick it from books, or websites, or even from the sage advice of a guru*. Next, think of a simple phrase that you are sure will help you achieve your goals, be they in WILD, dreaming, or life. If you think quietly for a little while, you’ll likely come up with a phrase that matters in short order. And if you cannot, don’t despair: keep the desire for formation of a mantra on your mind long enough, and one should come to you eventually.

      I personally have drawn upon several mantras over the years, from phrases like “Here and now,” – also one of my staples – on the simple side to very complex positioning phrases specific to whatever goals I might be pursuing (for instance, I once spent a few months repeating, “I am at the point where the land and the water meet,” in order to attach to my mind a particular magical metaphor – that’s fairly complex, and I don’t recommend doing something like this initially, because you not only have to repeat a long mantra, but also attach a unspoken subtext to it that must be remembered throughout the dive – and it all must mean something to you! ). In between those extremes have been mantras like “remember,” a simple phrase linked to whatever particular goal I had in mind during the mantra; gibberish phrases like “Ja Nah Heefra” that came to me during one “deep” LD that I hoped might be meaningful again (that particular one never was); and of course I repeated “I’m dreaming” once, only to have Aerosmith’s “Dream On” as background music throughout an otherwise uneventful non-lucid dream. But none of that matters, because you really must choose your own mantra – I just wanted to give you a feel for the range of choices you have. So be creative, be thoughtful, and be careful to pick a mantra that means something very real to you. That’s all.

      After you’ve chosen your mantra, putting it to work is very simple: Throughout your WILD dive, repeat your mantra constantly, perhaps matching it with every “in” or “out” breath, and let it serve as that anchor. That’s all; there are no more instructions on its use -- it’s that simple! You can repeat your mantra either vocally or silently to yourself, though if you can manage to say it out loud and still fall asleep, it will probably work better for you, as the sound of the spoken mantra adds a special dynamic to the cadence of your WILD. At least I hear it does; I myself could never go to sleep while saying something out loud!

      So, why do mantras matter? I think you may have already surmised that, but let me paraphrase: Meaningful mantras, by virtue of their mix of relevant verbal, symbolic, and metaphysical qualities, are a unique tool for WILD (and meditation, and prayer, and other similar “deep focus” activities). As such, mantras, through mere repetition, can help keep your mind clear and your goals intact. They’re pretty handy, I think, and, though they’ve been used for millennia, mantras seem to be regularly overlooked in the “Lie down, hold still, and wait” tutorials. And yes, mantras also have deep meaning for religious practitioners, including – but not limited to – Buddhists, Hindus, and even Catholics. If you seek focus in your efforts of mind or spirit, including WILD’s, then you’ll need to learn to gather mantras eventually – might as well start now!

      Oh, and for what it’s worth, when you hear the guy on the news talking about some politician’s “mantra” of, say, “no taxes,” he’s not talking about true mantras, but a modern-day misuse of the term.

      Homework: Have you already guessed? That’s right! Find yourself a mantra! After you’ve found a word or very short phrase that you believe will work for you, that carries real meaning for you, try to spend a little time every now and then (perhaps during your RRC’s) to think about your mantra, and make it all that more important to you, as well as an expected portion of your dreaming routine. If you’d like to share your mantra with us here, please do so in the Q&A, and be sure to tell us why you picked it…

      Next week: We put it all together!

      [EDIT: It only took five years, but I stumbled last week upon an excellent example of what I'm talking about here. This is what I just posted on the What Happened? thread:

      Last week I was doing my usual Wednesday WILD attempt, which in general haven’t been going too well these last few months, thanks to problems with memory, focus, and way too much drinking on Tuesday nights. I was having the usual issues when suddenly I had a combination inspirational/huh-duh moment: I changed my mantra from a tired mix of “Here&Now“ and “Remember” to one simple syllable:

      “Dive.”

      This worked on several levels.

      * “Dive is what I’ve come to call the WILD process in my DV posts.
      * It worked metaphorically, which helped me keep my mind focused with imagery of diving into the ocean of my dreams.
      * “Dive” is an exciting word, one to which I can emotionally attach myself as I repeat it; i.e., as the dive went deeper, my repetitions sounded a bit lie those of a submarine captain, which was both exhilarating and kept me focused).
      * The word “Dive” is ridiculously easy to repeat!

      The WILD worked perfectly, especially because I had an odd bit of HI that amounted to a screen-filling purplish eyeball with a red iris that filled my vision for most of the transition (not scary at all, BTW), keeping my “visual” focus pretty sharp. My dream finally began in a very bad copy of my bedroom, from which I left quickly and went about my LD.
      Later on, after a wake-up, I used the mantra again, and it worked exactly the same, and just as well.

      … And to think it only took me 40 years to think of this! ]



      *A brief side note to the dream yoga and meditation folks in the audience: Unless the doctrine-based mantra that a guru “gives” you has real meaning specific to your self-awareness, it won’t work well here. So feel free to chant “Om! mani pad-me Hum!” if you truly believe in its meaning (loosely, “Hail to man’s overself!” or more loosely, “there is no death”), but don’t do it because someone told you is an important phrase.
      Last edited by Sageous; 01-30-2018 at 04:29 PM.

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