Mantra chanting is found to be a very effective to alleviate anxiety. Mantra Chanting is both religious and spiritual practice, found in different cultures, religions and spiritual traditions across the world. Apart from its uses in spiritual and religious traditions, mantra chanting has immense potential to improve psychological wellbeing of a person.
What is a Mantra?
Mantra is a sacred utterance, a sacred formula, a sound syllable or simply a sound vibration; used as a tool to focus the awareness, strengthen the mind and attuning to the subtle sound vibrational energies within. In both Tantra and Vedic traditions mantras are used for many purposes. These mantras may or may not have a literal meaning. In both Yoga and Tantra, mantra is one of the important tools to centre or focus the mental and vital energies. In meditation practices mantra is used as a centering device to internalize and intensify the awareness resulting in the altered state of consciousness.
Mantra is also defined as the force or instrument that liberates the mind from bondage. Bondage here means identification of mind with its contents i.e. thoughts, impressions, memories resulting in impurities (mala) and oscillation (vikshepa). The impurities are the sum total of all negative impressions deep in the mind. They are the result of past problems in all areas of our mental being, and relate to different areas of our life. Mantras helps to dissociate the awareness from all these negative impressions cluttering the mind.
The other aspect of the mind, vikshepa, is the oscillation and distraction of the mind. This results because of the negative patterns of mind created by our identification with the effects of past, present and worry of future. By being identified with the negative impressions of experiences the internal monologue goes on all day, the desires, the fears, the plans, the disappointments, the mind is never at peace. By repeating the mantras with one-pointed awareness, the oscillations can be quietened and the mind becomes tranquil and peaceful.
How Mantra Alleviates Anxiety:
In today’s time, anxiety needs no introductions. Everyone feels anxious now and then. It’s a normal reaction of the mind. One may feel nervous when faced with a situation which are demanding in nature. But this may become a disorder when worrying becomes overwhelming and constant.
Vibrational effects of Mantras
A mantra is a combination of various sound vibrational frequencies. Mantra is used in many different yogic practices from all different traditions. When used as a tool in meditation, mantra helps to internalize the mind and awareness. Constant chanting of mantra leads to one-pointed awareness which helps dissociate the mind from the cycle of unnecessary, unproductive and crippling thoughts. This helps in creating a state of ‘relaxed-alertness’. If defined in physiological term, it is alpha brain rhythm. Here receptivity of the mind is heightened and this leads to attuning the awareness to the experience of subtle sound vibrations.
Mantra meditation can lead one into a very deep and relaxed state of mind. It helps to develop power of concentration and will power; by strengthening the ability to hold the awareness on one tool i.e. mantra.
Mantra and Nervous System
A mantra is an energy composed of certain frequencies that have a pattern of their own and a vibrational field that creates different intonations. These frequencies and the sympathetic overtones generated by them influence our sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves, which are spread in a fine network around our internal organs. The sympathetic response generates the neuro motor response and influences the two hemispheres of the cerebral cortex.
Neuroscience has demonstrated that the key to restructuring the nervous system in dramatic ways is to use repetitive therapeutic inputs that are precise and highly patterned. Studies show that the largest and most prominent neural circuits are formed by repetitive practices such as finger tapping, making music, and the gross, repetitive movement of limbs that occur during physical therapy. The phenomenon of neuroplasticity provides a basic explanation of how the practice of mantra affects the central nervous system.
Effect of Incantation: – Incantation is the process of repetition of an alphabet, word, sentence or mantra. One of the major causes of anxiety is the impulses coming to the conscious mind from the wrong impressions stored in the sub-conscious mind. Thus the wrong reactions of the conscious mind originate from the wrong impressions in the various centers of the sub-conscious mind. The only way to overcome wrong reactions of the conscious mind is to wipe out the wrong impressions in the various centers in the sub-conscious mind and to prevent the further development of wrong impressions in them. This is done by incantation. By incantation, a powerful center is created in the subconscious mind which can send strong impulses to the conscious mind. In short, the principle of the ‘dominant thought replaces the weaker one’ is used to prevent the conscious mind from receiving any useless internal impulses.
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