Its now official, goldfish on average now have longer attention spans than human beings. According to official statistics released on wyzowl.com, the average human had an attention span of 8.25 seconds in 2015 while a goldfish could hold its attention for 9 seconds. Just fifteen years previously in the year 2000, the average human had an attention span of 12 seconds. With the over-saturation of information coinciding with the advent of the "smart"phone, we're changing the way we want to get information. For instance, on an average web page, a typical user will read about 28% of the words during an average visit. Or, 59% of senior executives even would rather watch a video than read text when both are available. The technology may be smart, but is it making us smart?
As long as we're in this often nicely formed lump of matter, the body, we have to deal with our mind also. We may be able to alter and shape our physique through diet and exercise but shaping our mental framework to become more positive, optimistic and enthusiastic in life is much more difficult. As Arjuna, the the great hero of the ancient Kurukshetra War said to his friend Krishna over than 5000 years ago "I don't see how I can control the mind, it seems to me more difficult than controlling the wind!" If that was the case 5000 years back, what can we say about today's distracted individual?
Any true meditation process engages the practitioner in controlling the mind by focussing it with one-pointed attention on the object of meditation. The more senses that we can involve in a meditational process, the more effectively we can control the mind. Let's illustrate this principle. If a pizza lover simply looks at a slice of pizza from a distance, he or she can still easily get distracted by something else. If that same person was to not only look at the pizza, but touch its hot base, smell its flavour with the nose, perhaps hear the cheese still bubbling away and also taste it with the tongue; the person's mind will be much more absorbed because more of their senses are engaged.
Performing mantra meditation is just like that pizza lover absorbing themselves over their fascination. While some forms of meditation just engage the breath, or the mind through visualisation techniques, mantra meditation is more wholistic. When we chant mantras, we engage our tongue. When we hear the mantra attentively, we engage our ears. When we finger the meditation beads as we chant the mantra, we engage our tactile sense. We can engage our eyes to gaze at a spiritual picture of the object of our meditation as we chant. If we need to we can burn incense to engage our sense of smell. Finally we can engage our mind itself to think about the deep meaning of the mantra we are chanting.
In my personal experience of various types of meditation, I have not found a more easier way to capture the wandering mind than through hearing sacred sound vibrations of mantras. Give it a try and uplift your mind!