Having written last week that “hypnosis or hypnotherapy can be used as tools to open one to meditation,” or to strengthen an already weakened brain, I must, once again, emphasise this. Hypnosis and hypnotherapy are not the only tools; there are several other, much, much safer ones, including but not limited to certain yogic exercises.

Why do I say “much, much safer tools”? Do I imply that hypnosis or hypnotherapy is not safe enough as a tool?

Let me try to explain what I mean by “safer.”

Anything that you can do by yourself, without the help of another person – in my opinion – is not only easier, but also safer.

There are dozens of yogic breathing and cleansing exercises, which you can easily do by yourself, whereas for hypnosis and hypnotherapy, you have to depend on someone’s expertise.

And depending on someone’s expertise in the field of meditation goes against the very principle of meditation, which is self-empowerment. If meditation does not empower you, does not help you in discovering the true nature of your “self” – then it is not meditation.

With the help of an expert hypnotherapist, one can quit smoking, for smoking is not only hazardous to physical health, but also to the psyche. It contaminates our energy, prana, or the lifeforce. When this contaminated prana travels to the human brain, making it numb, it loses its sharpness. It becomes an ineffective tool for meditation.

So quit smoking with the help of hypnosis or hypnotherapy, and prepare yourself for meditation. But there is a very big but here – with the help of hypnosis of hypnotherapy, you can at the most suppress your smoking habit. The habit is not gone. It is still there, but suppressed. It is like when you delete items in your computer. All those deleted items are still there but not easily accessible. A hacker can get to them.

Hypnosis or hypnotherapy can help you quit smoking, suppress your violent nature, or control your sexual and other obsessions only for a certain length of time. You cannot entirely get rid of them. All those habits remain within you, ready to be hacked and brought back to the surface any time.

In this case, a person, a group of people or a situation can bring back all those undesirable traits and habits to the surface. Having quit smoking with the help of hypnosis or hypnotherapy, for instance, if you still move around with smokers – then it is just a matter of time before you pick the old habit again.

The change, brought about by hypnosis or hypnotherapy, is temporary in nature. It is not permanent. It does not transform your nature.

In order to transform your nature, you must consciously work on the change, not subconsciously as in the case of hypnosis and hypnotherapy.

You can use hypnosis or hypnotherapy as first aid. However, you still have to follow it up with conscious effort. You have to consciously, and not under any pressure, or with the help of anyone, remind yourself that smoking is hazardous.

This act of consciously reminding yourself of a certain thing can be called conscious hypnosis. I call it autosuggestion, or affirmation.

Here, you are fully in control.

You are not being controlled by anyone.

Guru Nanak (1469–1539) called this process Simran (constant remembrance); the Sufis call it Tafakkur (constant reflection). This is not the same as chanting of certain mantras without understanding, lest dwelling upon its meaning. Such mechanic repetition will not help.

I have met with people who do mantra chanting for 2-3 hours each day, and yet they remain violent, greedy, obsessive, and full of anger. Why? This is because they do the chanting mechanically without understanding its mechanism. The end result is total disaster.

Mantras are not to be chanted mechanically, but used effectively and efficiently. A mantra is a tool. It is like a sword. If it is sharp, one strike will suffice. If it is blunt, a number of strikes may not be sufficient.

The definition of mantra, “sacred chants,” misses the very meaning of the word. Worse, if such chants are related to Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Sikh, or any particular tradition. It is like relating the Law of Gravity with Christianity, since Newton was a Christian. Or relating the Law of Relativity with Judaism, since Albert Einstein was a Jew.

The word mantra does not at all imply chanting. It is made of two words, man or manas – meaning “mind”; and, tra, or yantra – meaning, “tool.” How do you want to use this tool is not indicated by the word.

A mantra can thus be defined as a “tool for the mind,” or the use of “mind as a tool.” I urge you to re-read the last line: A mantra can thus be defined as a “tool for the mind,” or the use of “mind as a tool.”

I am sure you can see the big, big difference between the two meanings. The first implies that mantra is a “tool” to be used on or for the mind. The second meaning implies that the “mind” is a tool.

If you are used to defining mantras as chanting, please forget that for the time being. You may like to go back to that definition after reading this column. That is quite okay. I am not saying that my understanding is absolute. You have the right to your understanding, as I do. For the time being, however, let us keep aside all other definitions of the word.

So a mantra is a tool for the mind – or is it the mind itself? Is it a tool to be used for the mind, or the mind used as a tool?

It is both…

Pre-meditation, it is a tool to cleanse your mind. Post-meditation it is the cleansed mind ready for use.

Pre-meditation mantra is 100 percent yantra – a tool.

You can use anything as a tool – hypnosis, or hypnotherapy followed by auto-suggestion, or affirmation; certain breathing techniques; cleansing techniques; even certain rituals, music, books – anything. All tools, all yantras, used to pacify the mind, to control its wavering, to cleanse it – are valid as mantras.

Of course, as long as such yantras or tools deliver; as long as they help us in dealing with our mind. Ineffective tools or yantras are not mantras.

Mantras are not part of meditation, as a glass of milk before going to bed is not part of your sleep. Although many believe it, that warm milk before going to bed ensures quality sleep.

Now, having had quality sleep at night, when you rise the next morning the rejuvenated you can be likened to post-meditation mantra.

A mind transformed by and during meditation is a new mind. Such mind, such fearless mind, becomes a tool to live life in total freedom. Then you become a mantra. You become a tool unto yourself.

Prior to meditation, we are led by our mind, by our contaminated and fearful mind. Post meditation, we use our mind to live fearlessly. Prior to meditation, we are slaves of our mind. Post meditation, we become the masters of our mind – we become Mastermind.

The writer is a spiritual activist and author of more than 130 books, several in English (www.aumkar.org, www.anandkrishna.org). His organisation runs Holistic Health/Meditation Centers, a National Plus/Interfaith School, a Charitable Clinic and a Public Reading Room in Bali. For more information, call Aryana or Debbie at 0361 7801595, 8477490.

February 26, 2010 By Anand Krishna