"Mantras are not small things. Mantras have power. They are the mind vibration in relationship to the Cosmos. The Science of Mantra is based on the knowledge that sound is a form of energy having structure, power, and a definite, predictable effect on the human psyche."
What is mantra meditation?
Mantra meditation is one of the most common forms of meditation worldwide and has been used for thousands of years and in many civilizations. The word mantra is a Sanskrit word which comes from “manas,” or mind, and “tra” which is truth, liberation or tool. So, by using mantra (repetitive sound) as a tool, we can liberate our minds or experience our true selves. What exactly does this mean? Mantra teaches us to perceive the world objectively, promoting mindfulness and freeing us from prior conditioning or preconceived ideas.
Mantra meditation involves the repetition of a specific sound, word or phrase which can be spoken or sung and can be recited aloud or silently. It may be practiced individually or in a group and is often used to improve self-awareness and achieve meditative states.
Mantra, although a Sanskrit word, can be a sound, word or phrase in any language. Ancient languages such as Sanskrit, with the highest degree of attenuation in its characters, are generally more effective due to their vibration, however, if mantras are chanted with intention they can still have some effect. So, apart from the vibration of the sound, another important aspect is the devotion that one has when reciting the mantra or the intention of the heart.
What are the benefits of mantra meditation?
Although the ultimate goal of mantra meditation is to expand awareness, there are also many practical health benefits that come from reciting a mantra.
· Neurological effects
· Activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System
· Decreases stress and anxiety
· Decreases depressive symptoms
· Increases positive mood
· Increases feelings of relaxation
· Increases focused attention
· Increases social connection when chanting in groups
How does mantra meditation work?
Although very simple to practice, mantra meditation is a complex mental task that aims to increase self-awareness and self-regulate the mind and body. Mantra meditation engages parts of the brain that are involved in attention and thereby increases the capacity for mindfulness and decreases ruminative and negative thought patterns. These are the thoughts that are constantly running through our minds daily and some of which we are not even aware of! Chanting mantras also directly effects the Parasympathetic Nervous System leading to slowed breathing and feelings of relaxation. Another aspect of mantra meditation, when chanting is practiced in groups, is the synchronous nature of the chanting. Synchronous behavior has been found to increase cooperation and social connection. By feeling an increased sense of connection to others, not only does our capacity for compassion increase, but we are more likely to be happier and healthier!