Mindrolling – Raghu Markus – Ep. 334 – The Meaning of Mantra with Lily Cushman

meaning of mantra

Lily Cushman drops by Mindrolling to talk about the meaning of mantra and how a spoonful of music can help the medicine of mantra go down.

Lily Cushman is a teacher, writer and musician based in the Bay Area. Her work is a synthesis of the body practices of Classical Yoga, the heart practices of Bhakti Yoga and the mind practices of Insight Meditation. Her first book, A Little Bit of Mantras, is now available. Learn more about her at lilycushman.com.

Shock and Om

Raghu welcomes Lily to the show and asks about her spiritual journey. Lily talks about some of the amazing teachers she’s worked with along the way, including Krishna Das and Sharon Salzberg. She tells the story of being introduced to mantra and chant at a Krishna Das concert, where she found herself in shock at the feeling that ‘om’ produced in her. 

“I just spontaneously wept in that moment when I heard the whole room ‘om.’ It was this really cathartic experience for me. And it took me years to understand that.” – Lily Cushman

Krishna Das talks about the power of chanting on Pilgrim Heart Ep. 68
The Meaning of Mantra (22:18)

Lily helps define the meaning of mantra, which literally translates to “a crossing over of the mind.” Raghu talks about the many efficacies of mantra, including how it can diminish self-referencing. They discuss kirtan, which is a combination of music and mantra, and how a spoonful of music can really help the medicine of mantra go down.

“That definition of mantra, the word itself, is basically pointing to the mechanism of moving past just the limited sense of self, the mind or the ego structure. That’s really what that’s referring to.” – Lily Cushman

The Maha Mantra and More (48:58)

Raghu brings up some of the mantras covered in Lily’s book, A Little Bit of Mantras. They key in on the Maha Mantra, which Raghu has recently reconnected with. Lily talks about how the book came together, and how it’s really a handbook to empower you to practice.

“The power of mantra is self evident.” – Raghu Markus

Would you like to be part of the next generation of mindfulness meditation instructors? If so, we invite you to take a unique opportunity to study with Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach and become a certified instructor to guide others in their practice – The Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program: A Two-Year Training Program for Teaching Awareness and Compassion-Based Practices


Images via Lily Cushman