Mantra yoga is the science and practice of using sacred sounds to focus the meandering mind in meditation. Mantras engage the mind, their repetition produces positive energy, even breath and provides a path to the divine within. The most basic and famous of mantras is Om, or Aum, which Hindu tradition says is the sacred syllable that began the world. One of the greatest impediments to meditation is the background chatter of the mind. Repeating a sound, syllable or string of words creates a vibration in the mind allowing the practitioner to reach a deeper state of meditation. An excellent explanation of the process can be found on the Chopra Center’s site here:
In modern practice, a mantra might be any sounds or words with meaning that serve to mentally and physically focus the person repeating them. It can be a task you want to accomplish or a thought about your life or those around you. In short, a mantra can be anything you need to address inside you, but it should be positive. It can be said aloud, whispered, or repeated silently in the head. Those studying mantra yoga may be given mantras by their teachers, and thousands upon thousands of traditional mantras exist. Originally a Sanskrit word meaning a tool or instrument for knowledge, mantra, as both a word and concept, spread out from ancient India at the dawn of Hinduism to be adopted by Buddhists, Hare Krishnas and Jains, to name a few.
Though the concept of mantra may sound uniquely Eastern, it is also an integral component of most religions in the form of common prayers and songs. In English, the word meditate comes from the Latin word “meditari,” meaning to ponder or contemplate. One obvious example of this type of ecstatic repetition is the rosary prayer in Catholicism. In fact, an Italian study found that repeating either a mantra or the Catholic Ave Maria prayer “caused striking, powerful, and synchronous increases in existing cardiovascular rhythms.” Their conclusion was, for whatever reason, the repetition of prayers and sacred words causes, “favourable [sic] psychological and possibly physiological effects.” In particular, they found mantras capable of stabilizing respiration when repeated six times a minute. Although registration is needed to read the complete study, you can freely access the short abstract here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11751348
Whatever your spiritual beliefs and traditions, meditation is being looked at more and more by modern science as a way to relieve stress and the host of ills it can wreak both physically and mentally. Whatever your spiritual beliefs and traditions, meditation is being explored more and more by not only westerners, but western medicine, as a way to relieve stress and the host of health problems – including anxiety and depression – it can bring.
Check out http://www.medindia.net/yoga-lifestyle/Mantra-Yoga.htm if you would like to learn more about the science of sacred sound.
Blissfully Blue Smoothie
- 1 cup frozen organic blueberries
- 1 banana
- 2 tablespoons unsalted almond butter
- 3 tablespoons hemp seeds
- 1 tablespoon flax seed oil
- 1 cup almond milk or any nut milk
Blend all ingredients until smooth. http://lantanagurl.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/blissfully-blue-smoothie-recipe/