Yoga has been in trend all over the world for more than a few decades now, so you must be already familiar with the word ‘mantra’ and the concept behind it. The word ‘mantra’ consists of two parts – ‘manas’ stands for ‘mind’ and ‘tra’ stands for ‘tool’, so literally it means ‘an instrument of the mind’. On the physical level mantra is a vibration, a word or a phrase that has a certain effect on your mind after you repeat it a few times. If you’ve been to at least one yoga class, you’ve heard some mantras playing and maybe even repeated a few yourself, so you know what I’m talking about. Yet mantra is much more than just your background sound for a yoga session. Here are 6 facts about mantra that will change your life.
Like so many great things, mantra comes from India, being a huge part of Hinduism as a religion as well as standalone spiritual practices. All Indian mantras are in Sanskrit, an ancient sacred language that dates back to the 2nd millennium BCE. They vary in size and meaning, ranging from the short sound Aum (also spelled Om) that is considered to be the sound of Creation itself, to longer mantras like Om Namah Shivay (I bow to Shiva).
You will find mantras in all religions as this powerful practice of chanting is the basis of any spiritual progress. For Christians it may simply be the word ‘Jesus’, while Muslims enjoy uttering the name Allah as a mantra. What matters is that the word is sacred, uttered with a certain intention, and on a regular basis. This is what they call japa in India, and it is designed to get to the roots of your Higher Self as well as your true nature.
The whole existence is made of various vibrations, including us, our bodies, minds, spirits, and the whole world we live in both spiritual and material. Sound is, undoubtedly, a vibration, hence it can be used as an instrument for creating balance, harmony, and self-awareness. The psychological benefits of a mantra are clinically tested: it lowers tension levels and blood pressure, reduces stress, and it even improves oxygen consumption.
Sound can alter the molecular structure, that’s a fact. Numerous research has been done with a crystal oscillator that proved that sound creates form. Back in the 60s Hans Jenny conducted a series of these experiments, revealing the truth – sound influences water, liquids, and other materials, by creating gorgeous natural-looking shapes on a surface of a steel plate. But this is not all! When mantras were played, beautiful patterns emerged, while negative sounds created similar patterns that looked chaotic and ugly.
Neuroscientists also got interested in the effect mantras have on a human brain. The latest research was done in Israel in 2015 with the modern brain-imaging tools to see how exactly mantras influence the brain. The result wasn’t new, but stunning nonetheless – during chanting mantras people experienced the quieting of the mind and thought processes. The part of the brain called ‘default mode network’ that typically remains active even during relaxation has gotten totally silent.
Anyone can reap the amazing benefits of a mantra – that’s the beauty of it! Choose a mantra that speaks to you most of all, sit down, and start practicing! You will feel some effect immediately and if you’re consistent with your practice and can keep it up for at least a month – you’ll be stunned with the experience you get.