Mantras & Mantra Meditation: Chanting for Stress Relief and Upliftment
Change your Mood & Mind with Mantra Meditation
Mantra meditation is a way of using repetitive sounds to focus your mind and reach a calm and quiet place – to drop below your busy thoughts and let go of stress. Chanting a mantra can change your mood surprisingly quickly from down-in-the-dumps to uplifted and hopeful. If you practice regularly, mantras also bring about deep transformation – they have sacred origins and meanings to do with all kinds of higher states of being. There are loads of different mantras to choose from, and you don’t need to follow any religious belief to use the power of mantras. Sanskrit mantras and Buddhist mantras are most popular, but there are also Hindu mantras, Kundalini Yoga mantras and other traditions. See chanting & kirtan for more about different forms of mantras.
Create Focus & Relaxation with Mantras
Just listening to mantras has an effect – playing mantra music at home can help get rid of bad vibes and create more chilled vibes. If you go beyond listening, and have a go at mantra meditation, you might find at first that your busy mind takes a while to settle. Don’t worry if this happens – stick with it and just gently bring your thoughts back to the mantra. Gradually as you listen to the mantra you should find yourself moving into a more relaxed, meditative state as your brainwaves move from everyday ‘Beta’ waves to ‘Alpha’ and ‘Theta’ waves.
The pronunciation of mantras can be tricky at first, but start with the easiest ones first. You can think about the meaning of the mantra as you chant it. After a while of chanting a mantra you may become aware of some feelings coming up – mantras are effective at clearing our energy centers, which can bring up our emotions too. Drink water and pause if you need to, remembering this is a purifying process.
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From the Buddhist Centre to the Krishna Temple: Where to Start with Mantras
There are tons of musicians recording mantras in a variety of styles – have a listen to some of the mantra music out there (spirit voyage link) to see what you like the sound of. If you want to have a go at chanting or singing mantras yourself, you can find out the correct pronunciation and meaning of mantras online. But there’s nothing to beat the experience of chanting together with others- the group energy is something quite unique and it gives more impact to the upliftment experience. There may be a local group that gets together just to chant mantras. Or you can check out meditation or study groups at your local Buddhist center or Krishna temple, or go to a Kundalini Yoga class, where mantra meditation is taught. To be given your own mantra and learn specific mantra meditation techniques, you could try a Transcendental Meditation course.
One of the simplest mantras to chant is ‘Om’ from the Hindu tradition (pronounced ‘aum’). Said to be the original sound of the universe, ‘Om’ can help to center and ground you. See the ‘Chanting & Kirtan’ article for a bit more on the ‘Om’ mantra. The Buddhist mantra of compassion, ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ is a good one to start with too. And for a couple of English language mantras, try the Hawaiian Ho’oponopono mantra ‘I love you, I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank You”, or the Kundalini Yoga mantra ‘God and me, me and God are one’.
Changing up Your Wavelengths: The Mind, Mantras & Meridians
Mantras can have a powerful affect on your state of mind, reducing depression and improving intuition. How does this work? Chanting a mantra – silently or aloud – is a way to practice control over your mind. Mantra chanting trains your mind to focus on what you want it to, instead of wandering around and drawing you into anxious or depression-related thoughts. Mantras are therefore often used for meditation. The ‘spiritual’ explanation for the power of mantras is that the mantras have positive meanings such as prosperity, peace and strength. The sound in the mantras have particular ‘wavelengths’ or vibrations which have different effects on us humans – who are also vibrating beings – and on our minds and emotions. Many mantras consist of the different names of God. The idea is that chanting the mantra tunes you to the same frequency as God, so that ultimately you can reach enlightenment: a state of freedom from suffering, true-seeing, peace and joy.
But if all that is a little hard to swallow, let’s look at a more physiological or scientific explanation. As you chant a mantra, your tongue moves against the hard palate of your mouth, stimulating 84 meridian points that then relay messages to the hypothalamus area of your brain. The hypothalamus is responsible for regulating the master gland of your body – the pituitary – which affects your sleep, hunger, mood regulation, emotional behavior and even sexuality. The hypothalamus also affects other parts of your system such as your immune system. So, chanting mantras regularly could even help keep colds away!
Mantra Uses Through History
All spiritual paths have some form of mantra. Mantras have been around for thousands of years, and have been used for everything from asking to be cured of a disease, to asking to succeed in competitive sports. Later, the more devotional aspects of mantra developed, and mantras were connected with a desire to transcend material reality. In the Vedic tradition, mantras have been linked to rituals. The ‘om’ mantra is known in Hinduism as the source of all mantras; it expresses the idea that there is only one reality, Brahma, which is manifested as ‘Om’ in the creation of the universe. Other mantras like the ‘Shanti Mantra’ and the ‘Gayatri Mantra’ also focus on this ‘one reality’ idea. The ‘Hare Krishna’ mantra has become one of the most well-known mantras, popularized by Boy George’s 1980’s song and the spread of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness into the West from the ’60’s onwards.
How will this help you to transform your problems and pain?
Mantras are a powerful way of bringing the sacred into everyday life and help supply us with focus, stress relief, relaxation and uplifting vibes.
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