The Untapped Power and Benefit of Having a Mantra
Sayings like "Om," "Shalom," "Ave
Maria" and "Rise above it" all have something
in common. They're all perfectly acceptable mantras. If you've
never heard of a mantra before, it's simply a word or a phrase
that, when repeated, should instill a sense of calm, peace
and well-being to your body.
Simply repeating your mantra out loud or in your mind
has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety and anger,
and increase quality of life and well-being.
In Sanskrit, the word "mantra" means "to free
from the mind," and in Hinduism and Buddhism mantras
are regarded as a sacred utterance that has a direct impact
on the physical body and the emotions. While they can be religious
in nature, mantras can also be used as a personal motto, a
source of inspiration or a saying that you believe in.
In fact, mantra experts often maintain that it's not the
words themselves that matter, but rather the energy from the
words. It is this tapping of energy that helps to clear the
mind, attract abundance to your life and help with spiritual
and personal growth.
"[Repeating mantras] is actually a very ancient tradition
that's been used in every spiritual practice ... [but]
it's nonsectarian," says Jill Bormann, PhD, RN, a research
nurse scientist at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare
System, who has conducted several studies on mantras.
"[A mantra is] personal, portable, and invisible. It's
immediately available, inexpensive, nonpharmacological, and
nontoxic," she continues, noting that mantras can be
a "stress-reduction technique for our modern day and
age, when people say they don't have time for stress-management
Mantras May be Good for the Heart
According to a study published in the British Medical Journal,
mantras may help to boost heart health. The study involved
23 men and women who recited the yoga mantra "om-mani-padme-om"
or the rosary prayer "Ave Maria" in Latin.
During the recitations, breathing became regular and slowed
to a rate of about six breaths per minute, which is synchronized
with cardiovascular rhythms. This enhanced stabilization of
the respiratory rate could be beneficial for the heart in
Further, the researchers noted that repeating mantras, which
are normally repeated in sequences of more than 100, takes
a similar endurance to that required for training sessions
for physical activities. The researchers concluded that reciting
a mantra (or the similar rosary prayer) could be beneficial
in both psychological and physiological ways, including:
Mantras Reduce Stress, Anxiety, Insomnia and More
Mantras don't have to be religious. They just need
to have meaning to you (such as "flow with nature,"
A study led by Bormann, published in the Journal of Advanced
Nursing, found that repeating mantras was beneficial for a
host of problems. In the study, 30 veterans and 36 hospital
workers chose a mantra and learned how to use it during a
five-week course. The participants reported improvements in:
"We found this to be a very valuable tool for people
that they can use," Bormann said. "It's like a pause
button for the mind."
Further research by Bormann found similar results. Among
health care workers, who are known to be under a lot of stress
at work, repeating a mantra resulted in:
Reduced stress, anxiety and anger
Improvements in quality of life
Enhanced spiritual well-being
How to Use a Mantra in Your Life
Want to try out a mantra but not sure where to start? It's
simple. Choose a word or short saying that has meaning to
you. It should be something that can take you to a deeper
level of consciousness, so while "live in harmony"
or "take it easy" would be fine, a more concrete
saying like "watching football" would not. Some
examples of religious and non-religious mantras include:
Christianity: "Hail Mary"
Hinduism: "Rama rama" (this was reportedly
Native American tradition: "O waken tanka"
(o great spirit)
"Peace and serenity be with me"
"Love surrounds me"
Once you choose your mantra (remember, just choose something
that has meaning to YOU), you can repeat it generously throughout
"You could say your mantra once or twice, or you could
say it for 20 minutes. Most people use it several times throughout
the day," says Bormann.
If you're having trouble allowing yourself to use your mantra
freely, try to relax, enjoy it and let the saying come naturally.
"Sometimes, the biggest roadblock in people coming to
this program, I think, is the word 'mantra,'" Bormann
says. "And so, sometimes we call it a rapid-focus tool
or we call it a comfort word, or for people who are particularly
religious ... we say it's a prayer word."
Bormann continues, "We believe that human beings have
a mind, a body, and a spirit, whether we're aware of it or
not. We believe the way you can become aware of those inner
spiritual resources is to quiet your mind and one way to do
that is with a mantra."
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Medical Journal December 2001;323:1446-1449
of Advanced Nursing March 2006;53(5):502-12
of Continuing Education in Nursing, September/October 2006,
Vol. 37, No. 5