Have you ever wanted to stop those thoughts that exhaust or distract you so much? Have you ever heard of the power of mantras to quiet the mind? Have you ever tried to see what happens after you recite these sounds, words or phrases? Believe it or not, any mantra that is recited or chanted with confidence and respect is capable of calming the mind.
Mantra is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘tool or instrument of the mind’. These are short words, phrases or sounds to be repeated and used as a method of relaxation or meditation. They can be simple sounds like the popular Om , or longer proverbs and phrases.
Mantras work as a spiritual formula. By repeating them over and over, they are able to transform the consciousness and activate the energy centers, which helps the person to calm the mind and achieve deep concentration.
Mantra: how can they calm the mind?
Several studies have shed light on the benefits of mantras. For example, a new study published in the journal Brain and Behavior reveals that silently repeating a word to yourself calms the mind.
Although the effects of meditation on the brain are known, scientists have not yet defined what happens when a simple word, phrase or sound is repeated. Functional magnetic resonance images were used to observe the cerebral blood flow of people who had recently practiced meditation, silently repeating a single word.
The images show a generalized reduction of activity (or “deactivation”) in the brain during silent repetition, mainly in the default mode network (DMN), or neural network of the default mode, in the system responsible for self-reflection and self-control. In other words, the simple repetition of sounds really seems to calm the inner thoughts.
The brain’s default mode network deals with the thoughts we have when we are alone and no one disturbs us. In these moments, the mind is busy, even if we are sitting doing nothing. The default mode network makes the mind travel, it leads it to think about the past, wondering what the future will be like and imagining what others think of us, for example.
It seems that repeating simple mantras restrains the activity of this network, and this would explain its calming effect.
Try the Om mantra
The syllable Om is considered the mother of all ‘seed’ (or bija) mantras. These mantras are believed to have a creative valence and primordial energy, like a seed.
Initially say Om at the end of a yoga sequence or a breathing, relaxation or meditation session to calm the mind. You can try even when you are not doing anything to see what happens.
- Sit in a comfortable position. For example, any meditation posture (including chair posture).
- Breathe in deeply through your nose.
- Close your eyes.
- Begin by pronouncing the syllable Om .
Om contains the following sound: A + O + M
- A: open your mouth. Start the sound at the back of the mouth and direct the current of air to a point between the eyebrows. Continue making the sound with the exhalation. Don’t be afraid to be loud, you need to feel the vibrations in your mouth and throat.
- O: Sound and breathing must continue to resonate and extend through the chest and throughout the body.
- M: Place the tip of your tongue on the top of your mouth when you reach the end of the exhalation. Once finished, you should hear a slight nasal sound.
Mantras can help us regain control of our mind, free us from worry and restlessness and therefore decrease our obsessive judgments and thoughts.