You have undoubtedly heard the term ‘mantra,’ and have perhaps even used it to refer to someone’s favorite phrase or motto. But there is so much more to this ancient, and spiritual, use of language.
The Vedas are four different religious texts that serve as the foundation of Hinduism. They are not only ancient – scholars estimate the first text was written around 1500 B.C. – but are also considered quite sacred. While many world religions credit their authority to one person, or as instructed by one god, the Hindus owe their knowledge only to the Vedas.
Each Veda is divided into four parts: the Mantra-Samhitas, or hymns, the Brahmanas, or explanations of Mantras, the Aranyakas and the Upanishads. The Mantras are actually hymns that praise gods and goddesses. Often of Sanskrit origin, mantras are described by The Buddhist Handbook as “highly compressed, power-packed formulas, which are charged with deep meaning.”
In short, mantras help to create a constant spiritual connection that clears the mind of disruptive thoughts.
Mantra and Greater Spirituality
The Vedas state that “Speech is the essence of humanity.” Human thoughts and actions are directly influenced by verbal expression. To this end, no idea is actualized until it is spoken aloud. These beliefs are similar to The New Testament, Gospel of John, which starts, “In the beginning was The Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God…”
Today, Buddhists and Hindus alike consider mantra to be necessary for spiritual advancement. What this simply means is that a person progresses from mundane responses, such as “Why me?” to a deeper state of spiritual awareness. Moreover, mantra turns a person away from mere material pleasures and gives the mind greater focus. Negative energies are burned away to leave only the most positive and purified thoughts.
Persons who recite mantras often seek to balance themselves with the earth and their spiritual beliefs. When a mantra is chanted, energy vibrations are produced that can be felt throughout the body. The intent of mantra is to overcome lesser vibrations that do not offer positive energy. As each mantra contains a specific vibration, the purpose of each is also different. Some, for example, promote physical healing, while others promote joy and peace.
Practicing Mantra Today
Traditional mantras are provided by a guru based upon personal needs of each individual. However, those who wish to begin this ancient practice can readily do so with neither a guru nor formal training. Despite the power of mantra, it is not difficult to learn and requires only 20 to 40 minutes per day. Books and other reference materials can help a person select an advisable mantra.
The alternative to a traditional mantra is to simply select a word or sound that is soothing. “Om” is one of the most popular, but specific words can also be used, such as “calm” or “light.” Longer phrases can also be used. With mantra, the most important element is to find a pleasing utterance based upon individual assessment.
To begin, simply find a quiet and comfortable place to sit. Once situated, clear the mind of thought and begin to chant the chosen mantra, phrase or word. This can be said aloud, silently or simply thought during meditation. Continue repeating for several moments and let the thoughts flow normally. If the mind wanders too far off course, simply re-direct it back to the mantra. It is recommended this be done once or twice daily for approximately 20 minutes.
While mantra meditation is easy to perform, professional teachers advise that it may take quite a while to perfect. Several sessions are often required before the full effects are felt. While many people often wait for a complete transformation, mantra actually works more subtly. In time, persons will notice they are more relaxed overall and have greater control over their thoughts.
Health Benefits of Mantra
One of the most widely-noted benefits of mantra is that it can relieve stress and anxiety. Additional emotional benefits of mantra meditation include the following:
A more concise focus on the present
Reduced negative emotions
Skills to manage daily tasks
Research suggests that mantra meditation may also be beneficial for persons with chronic conditions that are aggravated by stress. Some examples are:
Heart disease and/or high blood pressure
Studies further reveal that mantra meditation can improve immunity and also increase energy. While mantra should not necessarily replace traditional medications, it is a beneficial complementary therapy with mental and physical rewards.
References^ HelloLife™ Home (www.hellolife.net)^ Explore Home (www.hellolife.net)^ View all posts in Support Your Health (www.hellolife.net)^ Exploring Mantra (www.hellolife.net)^ http://www.dlshq.org/religions/vedas.htm (www.dlshq.org)^ http://www.circle-of-light.com/Mantras/ (www.circle-of-light.com)^ http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-mantra-meditation.htm (www.wisegeek.com)^ http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/meditation/HQ01070 (www.mayoclinic.com)^ View all posts in Support Your Health (www.hellolife.net)^ Comment on Exploring Mantra (www.hellolife.net)