Mantra Meditation: How It Heals
The word mantra is used in many different ways. Perhaps you chanted an "Om" — or many — in yoga class. But do you know what mantras are, how they work, and why they’re so beneficial to your health and inner balance?
When I started immersing myself in the world of meditation and mantras, I discovered that Sanskrit, the language used to create most mantras, wasn’t even designed for normal, every day communication. This mystical language was mostly designed for the creation and spiritual use of mantras.
These sounds have transformed my life and keep surprising me with their powerful healing effect. Here's how.
How Vibration Creates and Transforms Matter
According to quantum physics, the whole universe we live in is constantly vibrating. Everything is made of molecules, and within those molecules are vibrating. In a molecule there’s an atom, a proton, and a neutron. A certain kind of vibration in them creates a certain kind of energy. This energy then creates energy of a certain kind, and a chain begins to be formed. Here’s an example: electric energy converts into heat, which then converts into light. All these atoms are vibrating from one level to another, transforming the energy. Energy can never be destroyed, it can only be transformed. This is how everything in our world — and in our bodies — is created.
When I speak, I produce a vibration that enters your body and your inner ear and produces a karmic energy that transfers into your body and your brain. Your brain then converts whatever sound I'm producing into words.
Everything is vibrating around us, and inside us, at all times. Our cars, our phones, and our laptops are all creating sound. When the dishwasher is running, there is sound. When something is cooking in the kitchen, there is sound. All these sounds are different, and most of them don’t resonate with the frequency or vibration of our bodies. This is why many of these vibrations are actually disturbing our own. Disturbances in vibration cause issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression. I believe that it’s not a coincidence that the more noise and vibration we get from our electronic devices, the more people are suffering from chronic mental health issues.
The sounds of a mantra elicit a vibration in our body. This frequency helps us manage our energy. In any moment, energy can deplete from the body, but bringing yourself to a higher vibration through sound will help you keep and produce the right levels of energy throughout your day.
When you focus on a mantra, it’s less likely for you to get lost in mindless thinking. Consider these two scenarios: 1. You're in silent meditation or 2. You're listening to a guided meditation. You can help the mind return to the object it is listening to more readily than leaving it alone. The same occurs with mantras: When you focus on one and repeat it to yourself, it will be hard for you to think of anything else.
This is one of the reasons why mantras have such positive effects on our brains and bodies. Because when you’re repeating a mantra, what happens with all the negative thoughts that are usually chasing you? Once you start thinking those negative thoughts, it’s hard to stop the vicious cycle of negativity. You may start thinking that you’re not good enough, or that you’re lacking in one way or another. Whatever that negative thought may be, this triggers another negative thought, which then triggers another, and so on.
The opposite happens with when you repeat mantras to yourself. These little words are filled with positive vibrations that spontaneously trigger positive thoughts in your mind. One positive thought will trigger another, and before you know it, a whole new positive way of thinking is being created.
Om: The Rockstar Mantra
There are hundreds, if not thousands of mantras available, and you can pick a mantra depending on what you want to achieve. In Western culture, Om is by far the most popular mantra. But there is a specific way of pronouncing mantras in order to receive its real healing effects. We don’t just say the word over and over without purpose. There is a certain way to say Om, and a certain pitch to say it, too. For example, the volume shouldn’t be too low or too loud. If it’s too loud you may actually start to feel dizzy. This is a sign that you may have to tone it down.
The pronunciation of the mantra is very important. If you’re not pronouncing the mantra in the way that it was meant to be pronounced, then you’re not getting the full benefits, as your chanting is not producing the vibrations you’re trying to create in the body. That’s the goal behind chanting: you are trying to create the exact vibration that helps you heal.
How to Use Mantras For Your Own Healing
Let’s start with the basics:
How many times should you chant a mantra?
The common belief is that 108 times is the right number. When we utter a mantra and produce some vibration, that vibration is still not strong enough to start resonating in every molecule of the body. This is why we repeat them. The highest level of vibration is said to happen when we repeat a mantra 108 times. Chanting the mantra Om 108 times will take about 30 minutes.
If you want to reap the full healing benefits of a mantra, do it that way. You can use a necklace with 108 beads, called a mala, to keep track of your mantras. That way you won’t have to actually count, which can become pretty distracting. Can’t do 108 repetitions just yet? Don’t worry about it! Start by saying it five times and you can slowly build up from there. Doing this doesn’t make the practice useless or mean that it’s not going to work. Yes, it won’t be as powerful, but you’ll still benefit from it.
How should you sit when saying a mantra?
Posture is important. You should sit straight, with eyes closed, and you shouldn’t wear tight-fitting or dark clothes. Your clothes should be light colored. White is preferred. White not only calms your mind, but it also helps dissipate the heat produced by your body when you’re chanting mantras. If too much heat accumulates in your body, this can create anxiety and even anger.
Your clothes should also be a loose and preferably made of cotton to avoid any skin irritation. This also helps facilitate good blood circulation, which is increased when uttering these mantras.
When should you repeat a mantra?
It’s always best to repeat a mantra in the morning when you first wake up and your mind is clear. If you can only do it at night, that’s OK, too. Just make sure you’re in a calming environment during your practice.
Don't worry, this is a practice and whether you do mantra meditation for 5 seconds or 50 minutes, you're getting benefit. Just start wherever you are in life and don't give up.