The Mystery Of Mantras
In many yoga traditions, there is a long history of chanting mantras for everything from prosperity to health.
The topic is a bit mysterious for those who do not practice chanting regularly, but a little insight into the chanting can shed some light on the benefits of this spiritual practice for those who suffer from any kind of anxiety.
What Is A Mantra?
A mantra is a “sound symbol.” It can be anywhere from a single word (such as “om”) to several paragraphs long. The sounds are said to call forth certain spiritual forces, though many of them have no direct translation.
Based on the science of Naad Yoga (the yoga of sound), mantras are often given to students to address a specific challenge or issue.
Naad can be thought of as universal sound – the sound through which the infinite can be experienced by spiritual devotees.
How Does Mantra Chanting Work?
Proponents of Naad Yoga suggest that the process works by creating vibrations when the practitioner chants a mantra.
It is said that while chanting, the tongue connects with meridian points on the roof of the mouth.
These points are connect to areas in the brain that can result in chemical changes that bring about a more balanced psyche, strengthen the immune system and promote mental, physical and emotional health.
One of the interesting things about mantra chanting as reported by those who participate in the practice is that it works even when the chanter does not understand why.
Many people report noticing a change in their energy level or experience almost immediately after they try chanting for the first time, and this is the case even if they do not know what they are saying.
Mantra As Meditation
You can think of a mantra as the object of concentration for meditation.
Just as you might meditate by gazing at a candle, repeating a mantra is a way of focusing and calming the mind.
Naturally, that makes it an excellent tool for dealing with anxiety. Since there’s only so much that can fill your mind at any given time, filling your mental space with a mantra can push out thoughts that are causing anxiety.
Mantras also help develop mindfulness since the goal is to bring the focus back to the mantra whenever the mind wanders (and it will).
The Power Of Pronunciation
Learning the correct pronunciation of mantras can make them even more effective. For one thing, when you concentrate on what your lips, mouth and tongue need to do in order to say the words, you have another tool for focusing the mind.
If you chant out loud, you also create a physical vibration that is said to have a number of benefits as well.
How To Chant
There’s no right way to chant a mantra. It is a very individual practice, and only you will know if you are chanting in a way that’s effective for you.
It’s the devotion to the practice that makes the difference.
Once you have that, answers to questions such as how to begin, how to position yourself and how long to chant will come to you over time. Many people start in a traditional cross-legged meditation position.
If that’s not comfortable for you, you can sit upright in a chair. Some mantras are traditionally chanted a certain number of times or at certain times of the day, but again, this is something you will decide based on your own experience with the mantra.
Mantras For Anxiety
Any mantra that has a calming effect is a good choice if you suffer from anxiety. Some people find that the simple repetition of the name of a deity is comforting.
The particular name you choose depends on your spiritual tradition. You can also create your own affirmations to use as mantras, and these can be chanted in any other language. Some examples might be:
“Help me face my fear.”
“I am not my anxiety.”
“Everything will be okay.”
“Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” (Serenity Prayer)
Traditional Sanskrit Mantras For Anxiety
If you want to chant a traditional Sanskrit mantra, there are many to choose from. If you don’t know Sanskrit, it may help to use a CD or MP3 with a chant of the recording so that you can hear how the Sanskrit words are pronounced.
These mantras are usually chanted (or sung) to music, but they can also be recited as verse.
1) Om Hraam Hreem Hroom Hrown Hra, A-Si-Aa-U-Saa Nama, Swaahaa
This is a general mantra for the removal of anxiety.
2) Om Shri Dhanvantre Namah
This is a mantra to the celestial physician Dhanvantre, which is said to aid in physical, mental and emotional healing.
3) So Hum
The translation for this simple mantra is “I am that; that I am.” Repeating this mantra is thought to allow the practitioner to rest in union with a higher power, which can help to alleviate anxiety.
4) Om Namah Shivaya
This often-chanted Hindu mantra means, “I bow to Shiva.” It honors one’s own divine nature, a concept which is naturally at odds with feeling anxious.
The mantra can be repeated once while breathing in and once while breathing out. Connecting this or any mantra to the breath helps to reduce anxiety even further.
Mantra Chanting For Anxiety Is One Of Many Tools
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