(Reading Time: 2 Minutes)
We hear a lot of talk about people using mantras to add value to their lives but what are they? Where did they come from and what do they do? Let’s take a quick dive into mantra definition.
Let’s talk about mantra definition. Traditionally, a mantra is a word, sound, or vowel that is repeated to help concentration and focus during meditation.
In the modern world, we hear the word mantra used frequently, and with spiritual practices, such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness now a part of mainstream consciousness, it’s a word that is commonly used in the lexicon of general wellbeing and mental health.
Today mantras exist in all languages and may include statements that are spoken in many words to reaffirm personal values, beliefs and to boost self-confidence, spirituality, and a greater awareness of self. Some people also believe that the regular use of mantras can bring powerful positive energies into our lives.
Where do they come from? What do they do?
A Sanskrit word, the origin of the word mantra comes from the stem ‘man’ which related to thinking or the mind, with the word ‘mantra’ encompassing action through thought.
History tells us that mantras have been around for at least 3000 years, but social anthropologists believe that it is likely that they pre-date even this period.
Originating in Hinduism and Buddhism mantras were believed to have spiritual and psychological powers. Mantras now exist in a broad range of religions. A wider conceptual acceptance of mantas means that additional practices such as chanting and other verbal compositions are seen to share a similar purpose.
Today mantras come in very different forms and languages. Typically, they share a similar set of characteristics:
- They are melodic;
- Highly structured;
- Many are believed to have a deep spiritual resonance. For example, the use of Om is believed to resonate with the sounds of the universe.
In modern society, mantras may simply consist of a short phrase or affirmation used with the intention of boosting self-esteem or confidence. Some more traditional mantras have no literal meaning and are instead connect to a much deeper existential and spiritual meditative practice.
How are they more widely used today?
Modern mantras are used by some people to bring positive energy and thoughts into their lives but also to improve their outlook. People recite mantras as a means to become calm, reaffirm their values and beliefs, and to boost their confidence and self-esteem.
Some people choose to use traditional devices such as Mala Beads to help their focus and to count the number of repetitions. Others simply choose to find a quiet place to settle with their thoughts.
Some people prefer to recite traditional mantras, whereas others prefer to recite modern phrases in their home language which their brain can focus on and absorb. The benefit of the latter is that some people feel that this can shape future thought processes and thinking in order to positively impact on their wellbeing.
At the end of the day, mantras are deeply personal. There is no right or wrong way to use them in our lives and it’s up to us to decide what kind of mantra impacts most positively on us as individuals.
How to Perform a Mantra
Now that we are clear on the mantra definition let’s take a closer look at how to perform them.
There really are no rules about how to perform a mantra. Lots of people attend classes where a teacher will skillfully guide you through the process which you can then replicate at home.
For those wishing to perform mantras at independently, these simple steps can be followed.
Find a comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed, and you feel relaxed.
Sit down in a position that you can maintain for about 10 minutes – maybe even longer.Some people like to it cross legged; others like to sit with their back resting against something.
Close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing.
When you are ready begin to chant your mantra or affirmation. This can be done silently in your head or out loud. Really focus on the moment and the words.
Repeat the mantra or affirmation for as long as you want to. When you first start it might be helpful to use some Mala Beads or a meditation timer. This way you can build up gradually and also help yourself keep track of time.
When you have finished, take some time to be present again. Focus on your breathing, open your eyes and rehydrate.