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Updated: Jun 25, 2018

The purpose of mantra meditation is not just to increase awareness but to cultivate mindful awareness. Mindful awareness or mindfulness is an objective awareness of thoughts and feelings. Therefore, it is an awareness without judgement or prior conditioning that may influence the way we interpret situations. Mindfulness is also the great reliever of stress! The main problem with worry and stress is that we are getting entangled in our thoughts and as soon as there is a negative thought we often grab hold of it and entertain it, either arguing with it or believing it. This only increases the power of the negative thought pattern and can be detrimental to our health and well-being. We basically get caught up in judging and criticizing ourselves, genuinely believing that our thoughts are our identification or a reflection of who we are. So, how does mantra help? By repeating a mantra, we give our minds something much more positive to grab hold of and secondly, by focusing the mind on a sound, it increases awareness of thought patterns. This leads to cultivating a ‘witness’ or objective observer of our thoughts and through this awareness of automatic thought patterns, we come to realize that we are more than just our old thought patterns. What a relief! This creates more awareness in everything we do throughout the day, relieves us of our stress and anxiety, and helps us to act in situations from a higher state of awareness. Yes please!


Updated: Jun 25, 2018

The Difference Between Mantra and English Affirmations

The word ‘Mantra’ comes from ‘manas’ (mind) and ‘tra’ (liberation, truth, tool) and so I guess many things could be mantras from this explanation but generally, mantra may be considered a sound or phrase that we repeat either silently or aloud. It is said that Sanskrit mantras have come from the sounds of nature and therefore they connect us with nature and our true selves. On the other hand, English affirmations, such as “I am beautiful”, do not seem to have the same vibratory power as the Sanskrit mantras. The science has found mixed results with comparison of English and Sanskrit sounds and therefore more research is needed. However, some studies have found that English affirmations only work if someone has high self-esteem. So, if someone repeats a phrase such as “I am beautiful” and they are already likely to believe it, then it can reinforce what they think of themselves and increase their confidence. On the other hand, if someone has low self-esteem and they repeat a phrase that they do not truly believe about themselves such as “I am beautiful” then they can be reinforcing a concept that they do not believe and it can lead to thinking the exact opposite! That is, by repeating “I am beautiful” they reinforce that they think they are NOT beautiful.

Personally, I find Sanskrit mantras to be extremely effective in altering mundane states of awareness, reducing depressive symptoms and anxiety, and increasing self-awareness. That is not to say that other languages do not work. I have also found Hebrew and Arabic to be extremely effective! This is when we simply become our own scientific experiment by trying out the practices for ourselves and seeing what works for us! Happy Chanting!


Updated: Mar 13, 2018

Almost every tradition and culture in the world includes chanting practices for psychological and spiritual growth. It is said that mantras have been chanted since the human ability to vocalize! In India, the chanting of Sanskrit mantras from sacred ancient texts is the oldest tradition in existence that is still practiced today. Meanwhile, in Ancient Egypt, they would chant to ensure the flooding of the Nile and success of the next crop. Jewish chanting is used for synagogue worship all around the world and Catholic churches have promoted Gregorian chanting for centuries. The Navaho, the second largest Native American tribe, traditionally chant as a celebration of life, to heal the sick, prevent illness and to protect their community. Finally, Shamanic practices include mantra in order to connect with nature and strengthen community bonds.

Mantra has also been used in popular Western music where it is integrated into the music and often the audience is encouraged to chant along, intensifying their experience of the music. George Harrison from The Beatles included mantra in his songs. One example is “My Sweet Lord” where he sings “Hare Krishna, Hare Ram” and “Allelujiah.” Although not traditional mantra chanting, we can still witness a type of mantra chanting that has developed in the west. That is, when people get together at sports games or political rallies they chant. It becomes obvious that when individuals come together they can feel power in chanting as a group and as though they can make their team win or have their ideas heard simply by chanting together as a group. The military even uses a form of mantra chanting to promote teamwork and feelings of social cohesion. Although they are not chanting sacred ancient mantras, it still fits the definition of a mantra which is the repetition of a sound or phrase.

So, mantra repetition is used in many traditions and cultures all around the world and is still used today. It is practiced as a way of deepening spiritual awareness, promoting cognitive abilities, worship and connecting with others. Recently, it is used for team bonding and even to create significant change in the world by rallying or protesting. Despite the power of mantra to transform our own lives and create change in the world, this ancient practice as a meditation has been largely overlooked by Western society. We would do well to embrace this powerful meditation practice as there is extensive scientific evidence showing that the chanting of mantras can reduce stress, depressive symptoms, improve attention, increase altruism, alter neurology and even alter states of consciousness. So why wouldn’t we adopt the psychological, emotional and social benefits of this ancient tradition?