What Is A Mantra?
Mantras are words or sounds repeated to aid concentration in meditation. They have physical and emotional effects on our body that can even influence our health. In Buddhist and Vedic tradition, the word Mantra translates to “mind protection” and they help keep our mind focused on our intentions. In Sanskrit it translates to manas (mind) and tra (tool), meaning a tool for the mind.
“At the heart of each of us, whatever our imperfections, exists a silent pulse of perfect rhythm, made up of completely unique wave forms and resonances, yet connects us to everything in the universe.” — (Leonard, 2006)
Modern science has said there is no matter, only energy vibrating, and sound is a vibration. So mantras are significant, not for the meaning but for the sound.
Neuroscientists make the point that sound and language influence the majority of our lives because speech and language consume significant portions of our brain. In his book, neuroscientist Mark Changizi hypotheses that when we hear certain sounds we tangibly experience those events.
- A scream brings instant feelings of tension and fear.
- A baby’s laugh makes us smile.
- The sound of a car crash triggers adrenaline in our bodies.
- Hate speech inspires hate.
- Kindness makes us feel compassion.
How does it work?
The sound vibration helps us to mindfully focus our thoughts, feelings and intentions. The more you say it, the more this vibration will sink deeper into your consciousness and help you to achieve everything you desire.
If your intention is to lose weight, eat healthy and go to the gym, having a daily mantra practice will ensure you reach those goals.
It is a powerful, but subtle force working inside of you, that helps carry you into deeper states of awareness.
In his book, Goldman further explains the benefits of Mantras. “It has been found that self created sounds such as chanting will cause the left and right hemispheres of the brain to synchronize. Such chanting will also help oxygenate the brain, reduce our heart rate, blood pressure and assist in creating calm brainwave activity.”
Read more: The Three Secrets To Managing Stress
Where’s the proof Mantras Work?
I know, it might seem silly to accept the idea that sound can change a person’s situation, but there is lots of scientific research and centuries of anecdotal evidence that point to the definite benefits of mantras.
The concept of remaining focused on these words (and what they symbolize) has been proven to remove negative thought patterns and bring more positivity into our lives and situation. Plus, what do you have to lose? It costs you nothing but 10 minutes of your time to try.
Goldman summarises the research from various other Doctors;
“As observed by Dr. Herbert Benson, chanting helps induce the relaxation response, causing reduction of heart beat, brain waves and respiration”.
“Dr. David Shananoff-Khalsa believes mantric recitation enables the tongue to stimulate the acupuncture meridians inside the mouth (particularly on the roof), thus enhancing help”.
“In his book Powerful Self Healing Techniques, Dr. Ranjie Singe found that the chanting of specific mantras cause the release of the hormone melatonin, which has many benefits including shrinkage of tumours and enhanced sleep.”
Still Not Convinced…
Another way of looking at it is through the definition of ‘enabler’. Thought enables action and mantras enable thought. They could also be said to alter thought, especially if the thought streams are negative.
Professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Herbert Benson, has been researching how meditation and prayer can alter mental and physical states. He has been researching subjects repeating Sanskrit mantras and nonreligious English words. He has found that the words the person repeats are irrelevant. Just the process of repeating a word or phrase over and over helps the person relax and gives them the ability to better cope with life’s unexpected stressors.
Ok, How do I Practice Daily Mantras?
1. Lie down or sit in a comfortable position.
2. Repeat the mantra once on the inhalation and once on the exhalation.
3. Don’t fixate on it – you’ll know if your brow starts furrowing.
4. When thoughts come into your mind, acknowledge their presence and let them glide past your awareness. Always bringing the attention back to silently reciting the mantra.
5. Try set aside 10 – 15mins per day to practice. Morning is best, as it will set you up for the day. If you can’t do 10mins, try starting with just 5.
Consistency is key. You must repeat the mantra daily, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel. If saying a certain word triggers an emotional response, work with that emotion.
Ask why is it triggering you?
Why don’t you fully believe it?
What can you do to accept those words?
Several traditions recommend repeating the same mantra for several months before switching to another. For this challenge I will give you a new mantra each week.
Choose yourself which one resonates with you the most. Test each one out and find the one that suits you, or create your own. Then keep that mantra for several months.
“As a beginner or intermediate practitioner, it’s important not to assume that you have the power to enliven a mantra through a thought or awareness. You have to practice, often for quite a while, before a mantra really opens for you.” (Kempton, 2011)
Again, you have nothing to lose from giving them a go, so why not! (:
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Article written by features editor Ciara Louise Glover