By Jennifer Rego, LICSW
Have you ever practiced mindfulness or gratitude before? Did you know it can allow you to focus on being aware of your thoughts and making them more conscious? As mental health awareness develops around mindfulness and neuroplasticity, neurologists determined that once a brain has reached a relaxed state of mind, it can work better to communicate and be more alert to manage life’s stressors. Bringing a mantra into your life can brings your awareness back to your goodness and joy.
What is a Mantra?
“Mananāt trāyatē iti mantrah” is the definition of the word mantra in Sanskrit. (International Journal of Yoga). A mantra is essentially a positive statement or belief that you read out loud or in your heart. The idea is that you are brought to “shavasana”, and you mindfully bring your awareness to your heart as the words are spoken. We all have the power to change our thoughts and we can enhance our feelings of well-being by being present in our lives. A mantra is something just for you.
Does Mantra Actually Work?
Practicing a mantra has been studied by several major groups such as neurologists, psychologists, yoga studies, and mindfulness-based work. Each study provides evidence-based support to suggest that practicing a mantra is a valid relaxation tool and provides purposeful intentions to heal. We know that practicing gratitude has been shown to change the brains’ neurological pathways and how the brain communicates. We have evidence that we can change the way our thoughts/feelings and experiences are perceived.
One professor and researcher at Harvard’s and Mass General Hospital, Herbert Benson, has been studying meditation, prayer, mantras, and loving statements since the 1970’s. He notes that there is a connection between mind and body and better ability to cope with life’ stressors when practiced often. He denotes that it doesn’t seem to matter the discipline! They all can lead to better ability to cope and feel more relaxed when practiced.
How to practice a mantra/statement
First, try to be open minded about this as it’s important you drive the entire process! You may find yourself unsure of how to practice. You may feel silly at first or you don’t feel like it means anything yet. It will take time. Your brain is used to thinking certain ways.
- Get in a comfortable position wherever you are. We need to adjust our comfort either by sitting or lying down. Find what works best for you.
- Decide what mantra might work for you and silently repeat it to yourself. Practice really believing and feeling the words. Some examples to try:
- “I am good, my life has meaning, and I am working on healing”
- “I am alive. I breathe in and out and stay focused on my wellbeing”
- “I am one with the universe/my goals/my life”
- Do this for 10-15 minutes a day. Studies show this improves mood/stress/anxiety!
A mantra offers a way to ground yourself in your truths. Even, if some days are harder, we know that over time our brains can change for the better and we can become even happier more grateful people. Enjoy!
About Jennifer Rego, MSW, LICSW
Jennifer is a psychotherapist with over sixteen years of experience in the mental health field based in Massachusetts. She provides individual and family counseling, movement-based healing, clinical supervision and facilitates various workshops in the community with other multi-disciplinary professional providers.