Let’s cut to the chase yogis, we all know meditation is good for us.
Actually, we know it’s better than good – it’s pure magic. Magic that is accessible to anybody, anywhere, anytime. Simply find a seat, plop your booty down, sit up tall, close the eyes, breathe, and let all distractions wash away.
Simple as that. Said no one ever.
Here’s the real scenario – we sit down, close our eyes, begin to breathe, and suddenly a flood of thoughts and emotions come barreling towards us. We breathe a little heavier, readjust our seats, and try our hardest to do this thing called meditation. I mean honestly, how hard can it be to sit still.
The answer is – hard.
Like really hard.
We – as in me and you – are conditioned to constantly think and feel. And I’m the first to admit, meditation is not my strong suit. I’ve tried it before and I’ve tried it again, but the practice has never stuck with me.
Even after countless discussions, yoga teacher training, conversations with fellow yoga teachers, books, and you name it – meditation just hasn’t struck a chord with me.
It’s time for a change. I’m starting a 40 day mantra meditation challenge with YOU.
Yes – me and you.
- 40 is an intimidating number.
- I don’t have time to meditate everyday for 40 days.
- Where do I find a mala?
- How do I choose a mantra?
- And then – how the hell do I chant, meditate, and use the mala beads?
I’ll cover all of those thoughts below…
Why 40 Days & 108 Repetitions:
Why 108 Repetitions:
- The number 108 breaks down to:
- 1 = God or a Higher Truth
- 0 = Emptiness or Completeness
- 8 = Infinity or Eternity
- There are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet, each one has a masculine and feminine quality – Shiva & Shakti.
- 54 letters x 2 qualities = 108.
- The Chakras are energy lines in our body that start at the root of our body and travel up to the crown of our head. It is said there are 108 energy lines that converge to form the heart chakra, Anahata.
- A mala necklace is an Eastern rosary used for mantras, chanting, and prayer – it has 108 beads.
- There are 108 Upanishads – an ancient text that is highly revered in both Hinduism and Buddhism.
Why 40 Days:
In a world filled with temptations, shortcuts, and comforts – it’s incredibly easy to fall into bad habits. Just like the saying goes, you are what you eat, it’s also true of your habits.
Our habits define the everyday routine, whether we like to admit that or not. And more often than not, some not so great ones sneak into our lives. It’s normal and human, no need to fret over it.
Instead, commit to breaking a habit. Let it no longer control the everyday. Train the mind, body, and soul to act differently. We achieve this “breaking of the habit” by repeating a positive habit for a consecutive period of time.
And that’s why 40 days is the chosen number!
I’m sure there’s a more mystical reasoning behind all of this but let’s just keep it simple.
Here’s the one catch:
Mantra meditation must be completed for 40 days CONSECUTIVELY. If you miss a day, the 40 days start over.
Don’t cheat yourself in this situation. Be honest. If you miss a day and need to start over, then do it.
The days will come and go regardless, why not do something beneficial for yourself as they pass?
How To Do the Damn Thing:
Now that we know the why behind this, let’s talk about the how.
1. Choose a place to meditate
…. preferably one that is quiet and relaxing.
I try to meditate in my outdoor Zen Den but sometimes life throws a curve ball or two. Like mosquitoes and 100 degree weather – yay!
Have a backup plan if the first option is not working out. Also, be prepared to find a quiet space if traveling or your day takes a wild turn from the norm. Don’t make excuses friends!
2. Prepare the body
This might seem silly but trust me, it’s so helpful.
Suggestions are below:
- Take 10 deep breaths before starting the mantra chanting.
- Complete 5 – 10 sun salutations.
- Do a short yoga practice that involves relaxing, nurturing postures.
- Go for a walk outdoors to breathe in fresh air.
3. Find a seat on the ground.
And do all of the below:
- Sit up tall, lengthen from your tailbone through the crown of the head, roll the shoulders up, back, and down.
- Hold the mala beads in the right hand between thumb and pointer finger.
- Start at the head bead.
- Gently close the eyes and begin.
- Repeat the mantra 108 times while moving the beads through the fingertips. 108 repetitions will bring you back to the beginning of the mala necklace.
- Take a moment to feel the effects of meditation and chanting.
- Open the eyes and smile!
The mantra can be chanted out loud, in your head, or half and half. Do whatever feels natural to you. I like to start by chanting out loud and then slowly repeat it silently to myself. No rules yogis – you should know that! To make the sitting process more comfortable, use a yoga prop – blanket, bolster, or block.
How to Find Time:
The time issue. We either have too much or too little of it.
I’d love to say that I manage my time incredibly well and can always achieve my goals – day in and day out. But I’m human so that would be a serious lie.
I think you are human too, so this will always be a challenge.
Below are a few suggestions to help make time:
- Choose two times that works best with your personal schedule. If you work full-time (like moi), upon waking and before heading to bed are two great times. If you’re a stay at home mommy or a full-time yoga teacher, choose the times that best fit with your schedule. But stick to them!
- Write it down in a planner. Literally schedule a date with yourself.
- Hang up an inspirational photo, quote, or anything that serves as a reminder.
Where to Buy a Mala:
Malas are legit everywhere. If you’re an avid yogi then these beautiful jewels shouldn’t be hard to find.
But if all of this spiritual yogi-ish is new to you, below are my suggestions:
- Check out your local yoga studio’s shop. A lot of studios will sell local designs / support yoga teachers who make their own.
- Stop by two of my favorite yoga jewelry shops to browse through their amazing mala collections – My Bohemia Jewelry & I Heart Naturals Company. Both of these shops are the real deal – beautiful pieces, passion for their craft, and awesome people in general!
- Browse through Etsy – the options are literally endless. This is the Etsy shop I ordered from and am super happy with the quality and customer service.
How to Choose a Mantra:
This final step is a very personal one.
The idea behind 108 mantra repetitions x 40 days is that whatever you choose, it will be ingrained into the mala beads, your body, your mind, and your soul.
The mantra and the mala beads will symbolize a lifelong affirmation.
An affirmation that goes something like this:
- You are supported.
- You are limitless.
- You are strong.
- You are beautiful.
- You can achieve greatness.
- You are loved.
- And you are whole – mind, body, and soul.
I urge you to do some soul searching before deciding on the mantra.
Write in a planner. Talk out loud. Move through a yoga sequence. Take a long walk. Do something to understand better what it is that YOU need!
Here’s a list to get the creative juices flowing – 5 Ancient Mantras, please keep in mind that this list provides Sanskrit options. While Sanskrit is the traditional language of yoga, it’s not required to use it for this meditation challenge.
You are always encouraged to create your own mantra that suits your needs.
If nothing on the list resonates, do more research, make up your own, or ask your favorite yoga teacher if they have one. The mantra options are endless!
Are you ready to sit, breathe, and repeat for 40 days?
Let’s do this one together – one journey, one movement, one meditation. When you’re contemplating not doing it for a day or not starting this challenge, just remember that yogis all over the world are right alongside us. We are a community of like-minded people who are creating a movement of intention, positivity, and growth. Join me and be part of this movement – you won’t regret it!
Until next time – xoxo.