Most people think of the word mantra as a statement or slogan repeated frequently. People have also thought of the word mantra in relation to religious and spiritual beliefs, as well as a phrase repeated by a sports team.
The earliest mantras were composed in Vedic Sanskrit in India, and are at least 3000 years old. Mantras now exist in various schools of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. In Japanese Shingon tradition, the word Shingon means mantra. At its simplest, the word ॐ (Aum, Om) serves as a mantra.
Now, these are the references we may have heard before, but let's simplify it even further so it makes sense to everyone.
A mantra is like setting an intention, or to repeat an affirmation. A personal mantra is a positive phrase or affirmative statement that you say to yourself for the purpose of motivation or encouragement. This could be your favorite quote, proverb, spiritual truth or religious saying that motivates and inspires you to be your best self. Most mantras are utilized to inspire change by transforming words into emotions. The more we say it, the more truth it contains.
So... What is the science behind the mantra?
According to the Annual Review of Nursing Research (2014),"Mantras work with or without faith. Even if the patient or person has no knowledge or faith in mantras." And according to the Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology and Behavioral Science, "Mantra repetition is a simple, quick, portable and private complementary practice that may be used as an adjunct to current treatments for PTSD.”
Research shows a number of physiological benefits of mantra repetition, including “lowered levels of tension, slower heart rate, decreased blood pressure, lower oxygen consumption and increased alpha wave production. The benefits experienced in 20 minutes of meditation exceed those of deep sleep, thus indicating the regenerative power of meditation and saving of wear and tear on the body.”
References to mantra benefits are common in various psychiatry and medical projects, papers and journals. In one project, they concluded through research that OM chanting calmed the stressed mind. In another, they concluded that the Gayatri Mantra helped with tinnitus, Alzheimer’s and improving motor skills in Parkinsonism.
Speech and language consume a huge portion of our lives. This is another reason why mantras are so powerful. It's like when you were younger and your name had to be repeated over and over before you actually understood its meaning. Repetition is how you came to understand that your name is your identifier.
The Mantra is a Cue....
We all look for signs in our lives. We have questions. We all want to be more. The mantra acts as a cue — by repeating it out loud, our conscious mind provides our subconscious mind with a cue to focus on the mantra's meaning and intent. For example, if the mantra is meant to calm us, our conscious and subconscious mind work together to set off a chain reaction in the body that brings about the desired effect — our breathing slows, our blood pressure decreases and our emotions settle.
Sounds amazing, right? Maybe too good to be true? Remember when your parents, teachers and relatives said you can be anything or anyone in life? Those who believed it took action. Those who didn't see the vision waited for another sign.
For those who took action, they visualized what they wanted to be. Remember that? "I want to be a astronaut!" "I want to be a firefighter!" "I want to be a doctor!" That visualization stirred emotion. That energy made you excited, happy, gave you purpose, causing you to act with intention to make those visualizations a reality.
Understanding that mantra is intention is what makes it possible to receive the gift. The gift is the realization that anything is possible. The gift is: you are what you SAY you are. A mantra is the repetition of intention — by repeating it, you set the intention to the universe, God, and most importantly, yourself.
With this philosophy, you probably want to know how many times you have to repeat a mantra to make it real?
In many schools of thought, the mantra is meant to be repeated 108 times. 108 has long been considered a sacred number in Hinduism and yoga, representing the ultimate reality of the universe as being simultaneously one, empty, and infinite. Malas, or prayer beads, come in strings of 108 beads and are used for counting as you repeat a mantra, similar to the Catholic rosary.
The ancient Indians around 5000 BC or beyond discovered an incredible ratio. They accurately calculated that the diameter of the sun multiplied 108 times gives you the distance from the earth to the sun, and the diameter of the moon multiplied 108 times gives you the distance from the earth to the moon. Western astronomy managed to catch up just in the last 200 years with these estimates.
Ancient Indians believed that as the nine planets revolve around the twelve constellations, the process brings about 108 kinds of changes. If there is anything wrong in these changes, it can be rectified with the positive energy of the mantras.
108 therefore becomes an amazing cosmic ratio that affects human fortunes. If the microcosm (us) mirrors the macrocosm (the solar system), then it could be there are 108 steps between our ordinary human awareness and the divine light at the center of our being. Each time we chant another mantra as our mala beads shift between our fingers, we are taking another step toward our own inner self — the being we hope to become.
The Vedic sciences state that as mantras can be chanted to balance or enhance certain vibrations, they were considered an effective way to balance or harmonize any negative effects due to these influences from the planets, as well as a way to enhance any positive effects that these could cause. And based on the system of 9 planets (Nava Graha) moving though 12 constellations, this leaves us with 9 x 12 = 108. It was for these reasons that it was said to chant mantras at least 108 times.
According to tantra, every being breathes 21,600 times on an average day. Of these 10,800 are for solar energy and 10,800 for lunar energy. 108 represents the daily breathing count in a self-perfected person. To achieve perfection in meditation, your breath stabilizes at 108.
Human psychology states that nothing is valid unless it can be repeated. Therefore, the more you chant a mantra, the more you come to believe it.
So, the question becomes: what is your mantra? Your mantra can be anything you want to believe to be true, anything you want the universe to accept because it is what you say it is. To perform a mantra is to start you and the universe down that path to actualization.
What is Your Mantra?
Thanks for reading our blog! Let us know in the comments how it helped you on your spiritual journey. And feel free to take a look around our shop for tools like malas to help with your mantras!
Comments will be approved before showing up.