What are mantras?
Mantras are repetitive sounds that increase concentration. The use of mantras for uncertain times is a great tool that can be used anywhere. Their purpose is to ground you in the present. You can do this by using a positive affirmation or a sound considered as a neutral object.
The meaning of the word is a tool for the mind:
manas (mind) and tra (tool)
Why do mantras work?
Mantras help you create awareness of the present. You are getting in tune with a purpose, with the state of mind you want to achieve. When using mantras for uncertain times, you anchor in what you have control of. That is, only on what is going on at the moment. Uncertainty is something in the future, something that most likely doesn’t depend on you. However, a repetitive sound has the power to relax and to help you cope better with different stressors.
Your brain produces endorphins as mentioned in this study from the Harvard Medical School. They call the repeating of a mantra as an exercise for the mind. The importance is to repeat a sound because this act focuses your attention on a detached expression. Thus, restricting your mind from external thoughts. This and several more studies conclude that mantras improve the clarity of the mind.
Grey matter increases with the use of mantras. For instance, your cognitive functions increase. In other words, you expand mental processes that allow you to carry different tasks. You elevate your consciousness and more easily anchor in the present.
Remember, art enhances your brain plasticity, thus making you flexible to adapt to new and many times uncertain situations. Mantras are art because you are interpreting sounds either composed by you or someone else. The art of making sounds or music is what mantras are all about.
Mantras have psychological powers just as mindfulness. Because you are repeating a word or a chant many times, your brain disables other thoughts from interrupting you. This is why mantras for uncertain times are a great tool. They don’t necessarily have to have a meaning. They are just a repeated sound that engages your brain and disconnects you from the outside world.
Why is this helpful?
Well, because sometimes you need to disconnect from things to gain a better perspective. You can achieve this by focusing on a repetitive sound that you start to dominate. You are good at making that sound! It is a melody that you repeat over and over. Because you know the notes and/or the words, you want to be a part of it.
It is like singing along a song you know, knowing that is helping you because you focus on an intention.
Now, let’s see the many ways you can create a mantra. Most importantly, enhance your musical persona and enjoy your ability to create a composition.
Ways of making mantras with sound
All the ways mentioned below are great to ground you in the present. Focus on the creation, and remember that mantras will be your companion through uncertain times. You have to create a pattern that you can easily repeat. While repeating it, let your mind engage with the sound. Repeat, and repeat that pattern for some time. You have to focus your attention on the sound. Don’t force yourself to concentrate, you will naturally transition into a state of awareness. If you feel distracted, gently allow yourself to go back to the sound of the mantra. Savor the process of the creation. Later on, of the state of mindfulness that the mantra helped you be in.
Create a repetitive percussive sound using anything that you have at hand. For instance, it can be a pen hitting a desk, the sound of you clapping, palatal clicks with your tongue. Just anything that you want that reminds you of an intention. If you have a drum set at home, by all means, use it. Repeat a rhythm that you can easily interpret.
Learn to play the cabasa here.
2. Air or your voice
Breathe in and every time you breathe out chant the same note. Also, while you breathe out try to whistle the same note as if you were chanting. You can also incorporate your teeth and produce an ssss sound with them. Have you tried whispering a song? It is so refreshing and you feel the power inside you. The fact that you have yourself no matter the circumstances, is a great thought of empowerment. Also, if you have a wood instrument repeat a pattern of notes over and over again.
Create your composition and take advantage of your voice. That is to say, concentrate on the way it produces sound, and enjoy the vibrations in your entire body.
You need an instrument for this type of mantra. If you have one, you probably know how to play a few chords. This creation aims to repeat a succession of chords. The simplest way is to repeat the following musical chords: tonic and dominant (I-V). You can also create your composition as long as it is just a maximum of four chords. Enjoy the moment without needing to concentrate so much on placing your fingers right. You are looking to create a mantra, not a song.
Also, you can create a mantra with just words, not music at all. This list has simple mantras for anxiety that you can easily incorporate.
If you want to try traditional mantras look at this site. For example, it has a list of amazing mantras to work on and memorize.
How to use the mantra
Here are my tips for creating your personal space. Take advantage of the mantras for uncertain times that you created previously.
- Sit in a comfortable position where you can breathe easily.
- Find a reason to anchor.
- Interpret the mantra you created.
- Focus your attention completely on the repetition.
- Repeat this mantra every day. Consistency is key to see the results.
Ways of making mantras visually
Mantras are a great tool to incorporate in uncertain times, or when you are nervous or stressed about the future. After all, there is nothing you can do about it. The best thing you can do, the only thing you have control of, is the present moment. That’s why you should interpret a mantra especially when you have no control over what is going to happen. Rest your mind on a composition and focus on positive creations, rather than on useless thoughts.
When you repeat a sound your brain engages with the creation. What if you try to repeat a pattern visually? Why not try and draw a simple figure that you can repeat over and over again and create a pattern?
1. Circles, squares or triangles
Draw a geometric figure and repeat the motion of your hand over and over again. You can also draw a spiral that goes inward or outward in the shape you chose. Don’t focus too much on making it perfect. That is to say, remember that as with a repetitive sound, the aim is to not think about the process. It’s to enjoy the way your mind engages in the creation without you noticing it.
2. Create your shape
As with geometric figures, you can also draw any abstract form that you can repeat over and over again. Don’t make it too complicated and just repeat.
3. Experience with materials
Use different materials for the composition. You can start with watercolors and later on switch to ink, just discover and play with the material. Notice which material is more natural to you. Consequently, your mind engages more easily and you have to be less aware of the motion you are making. As always, the purpose is to be engaged and not to think.
What do you think of a visual concept of mantras?
Listen to it. How do you feel? Can you sing along this simple melody? When you repeat it for a while, do you feel different?
Leave your comments below and tell me what you think of mantras.
Do you have any other tips?