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Maranatha Mantra: The teachings of Yoga Meditation are universal and non-sectarian, as is my personal orientation. However, being of Western birth, I mostly meet people who were born into Christian families, since Christianity is the dominant religion of the culture where I live. For those who follow Christianity, it is very useful to be aware of the Maranatha Mantra, an ancient mantra of Christian tradition. (See also the article Yoga and Christianity)
Diversity of mantras: Mantra is a very useful practice in Yoga Meditation. While many, possibly most, of the practitioners of Yoga Meditation who use a mantra use Sanskrit mantras, the science of Yoga Meditation itself does not tell you what mantras to use. The mantra might be in Sanskrit or any other language, either one's native tongue or the language of one's chosen religion. Some of the more brief meditation mantras are simply sound vibrations that are not from any particular language, though being root sounds of languages. These are called seed or bija mantras. Often the mantra is prescribed by one's teacher or lineage, or is practiced in accordance with one's religious affiliation. Or it might be a universal mantra such as the Soham mantra. The Himalayan tradition uses a diversity of mantras for meditation, and also encourages people to follow the teachings, traditions, and mantras of their own religion.
Maranatha is the final instruction: To many people the use of mantra or sacred word appears to be an Eastern practice, often associated with Buddhism or Hinduism. However, there is a Christian meditation mantra that has been used for a very long time by the early monks, though it is little known publicly as a mantra practice. It is the mantra Maranatha. The word Maranatha is the final instruction of St. Paul's teachings to the Corinthians, and is St. John's final instruction in the Book of Revelations. Thus, the last word, the final teaching of the entire Christian Bible is "Maranatha," which is Aramaic and means, "Come Lord."
Mara-natha and Maran-atha: One meditation teacher explains he was taught in seminary that when the word Maranatha is parsed (broken into parts) as "mara-natha" or "maran-atha," it has two different meanings:
Pronouncing the mantra: The Maranatha Mantra is pronounced with "a" as in "car" or "far" (Ma-Ra-Na-Tha). Allow it to arise rhythmically in the mind field at whatever speed comes naturally, whether fast or slow, though you will probably find it will slow down on its own. Allow yourself to feel the meaning of the mantra, in whatever way matches your own spiritual or religious predisposition. Or simply feel the calmness that comes from the gentle repetition. The feeling is more subtle when remembered in the silence of the mind rather than spoken aloud. All of the general guidelines on using mantra that are in the article Mantra and 13 tips on their use also apply to the Maranatha Mantra.
Positioning the mantra: While remembering the mantra, it is best to allow the mind to gently rest in one physical location rather than allowing it to wander here or there (after preliminary steps of Yoga Meditation).
Mantra with breath: While the mantra may be done completely in the mind field, it also coordinates nicely with the breath when remembered silently as Ma-Ra-Na-Tha, with each of the four parts remembered separately:
When coordinating the mantra with the breath, let the breath be smooth, slow, and quiet, with no pauses between the breaths. Be sure that the syllables of the mantra are only in the mind, and not disturbing the flow of the breath in the lungs, throat, or nasal passages. Allow your attention to gently rest either on the diaphragm area, in a palm sized space just below the breast bone, at the upper abdomen, or on the feel of the air at the bridge of the nostrils, using the cognitive sense of touch.
Remembering the mantra: The mantra may be remembered in the mind with no association with breath. The entire "Ma-Ra-Na-Tha" simply rolls through the silence of the inner mind field, being a pleasant, rhythmic companion, affirmation, and prayer.
Follow the mantra to silence: After remembering the mantra for some period of time, whether or not you count the repetitions, a time will come when the mantra will lead your attention to complete silence in the physical space in which you are remembering it (heart or eyebrow center). Allow this to happen naturally, going into complete inner silence, while holding the deeper meaning and feeling in awareness. Although repetition of the mantra is quite useful in stabilizing a noisy mind (without repressing thoughts or emotions), this leading quality is a more valuable spiritual aspect of mantra meditation.
Counting the mantra: While it is not essential, you might want to count the repetitions. This can give the mind a focus, and a sense of beginning and end to your practice time. This can be done with a set of mala beads or some other means of counting. A typical mala has 108 beads, and the practice will take as little as 3-5 minutes at a faster, pulsing rate within the mind, or as long as 20-30 minutes if done slower, such as with the breath. Whether or not you count, or use a mala, it is important to not allow the mantra to become mere parrot-like repetition. Allow the awareness of the meaning, the feeling, and the calmness to be there. To develop stability in your mantra practice, it can be useful to do an intentional practice of one mala (or other number) per day for a period of 40 days, or perhaps one year, starting and ending on some significant date.
WCCM: The Maranatha Mantra has been taught extensively by Father John Main and Father Laurence Freeman through their organization, the World Community for Christian Meditation. Here is link to their website, which then links to the many locations around the world, as well as other links describing Maranatha Mantra from within the website:
Recovering a tradition of the early Christian monks: According to the WCCM website, Father John Main
The wonder of meditation: Father John Main is quoted as describing: