Simple Gifts, a Mantra for Meditation

mantra meditation qigong Feb 29, 2024

Back in high school I was a football player (a "hog," or offensive lineman, believe it or not), but my senior year I branched out and participated in chamber choir. I have my amazing choir teacher, Mr. Otte, to thank for for adding the hymn, "Simple Gifts," to the musical line-up that year.

For the past month or two, the lyrics from Simple Gifts have popped back into my consciousness, and I've started using them as a mantra in my meditation practice:

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right. 


I have tried various mantras in my meditation practice over the years, but they were never very effective for me. I believe the reason is that most mantras that westerners like myself are introduced to are in a foreign language, and don't resonate fully.

The lyrics from Simple Gifts, though, settle naturally into my body and mind, and I hope they do the same for you! Here is the method I've been using to utilize Simple Gifts as a mantra.

Tips for your Mantra Meditation

First of all, it's nice to find your favorite version of the hymn to listen to. Fortunately, a quick search led me to a beautiful version by Allison Krauss and Yo-Yo Ma. I think you'll love this one too!

I don't usually listen to the hymn while I am meditating, but instead repeat the lyrics over and over again in my mind: 

"'Tis the gift to be simple"  

With this line, I focus on my brain, and my forehead, and allow myself to let go of all of my thoughts to encourage a "simple" mind.

"'Tis the gift to be free"

As I repeat this line, I feel my chest, and my heart, and allow myself to "be free" from any negative emotions.

"And when we find ourselves in the place just right"

Here, I focus on my body. Specifically, I feel my roots sink into the earth and my energy settle in my lower back and abdomen.

"'Twill be in the valley of love and delight"

Repeating this line, I center in my heart again, and open to feelings of love and delight that arise as I become simple in mind, heart, and body.  

I started using just those first four lines of the hymn, but now I am also incorporating the last four. However, I combine the last four lines into one intention.

To me, the closing lines are about recognizing my imperfections, embracing them with love, and allowing universal energy to nudge me compassionately into alignment.

I am sure to be continuing this practice for some time, and I encourage you to give it a try and let me know how it works for you!


Calligraphy is another great form of meditation! Visit my Online Qigong Community to see some other fun characters to practice!  

Online Qigong and Meditation

If you're looking for inspiration for your own meditation practice, I encourage you to try a free 1-week trial of my Online Qigong Community. I've made things "simple," by placing hours of qigong and meditation videos all in one easily accessible platform.

You can also join me for live qigong classes, participate in my Seasonal Qigong Online Courses, and read helpful articles like this one! 

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If you are new and want to sample a free week click the link below. You will have full access to all classes, recordings, live sessions and have a place to ask questions and get direct support.