We’ve all heard this Mysterious “Om” that comes from the back of the throat, but what does it mean, and what is it for? Chanting or repeating mantras is practiced in many traditions, including Hindu and Buddhist, to uplift the mind. In the West, we meet them when we practice kundalini yoga. Several teams of scientists are even starting to take an interest in it. Mantras have been a mainstay of Tibetan medicine for several thousand years. Many of them can be practiced by beginners.
What is a mantra? How it works ?
What is it about ? The mantras are syllables,words or phrases in Sanskrit or ancient Tibetan. They can be oriented towards a spiritual or medical goal. The first encyclopedia of Tibetan medicine, written between the 8th and 12th centuries, lists around 100,000. “Some refer to specific symptoms, others to organs that need to be ‘balanced’,” says Dr. Ingfried Hobert. , holistic doctor.
These formulas should be repeated for several minutes, in a meditation position. Tibetan medicine indeed considers that the body is traversed by vibrations, like all the rest of the universe. “It is believed that in order for a disease to occur, there has to be an underlying energetic disturbance,” continues Dr Hobert. Mantras aim to correct it by producing a sound endowed with a particular energy, able to harmonize with other vibrations of the body or the environment.
Can anyone recite mantras?
There are several levels of practice. Very experienced meditators use them for spiritual upliftment. “But we can also have recourse to simple and accessible mantras, emphasizes France Dhont-Padmavati, art therapist, yoga and mantra teacher, and that without entering into a particular spiritual tradition. “Work carried out by Prof. Luciano Bernardi, from the Italian University of Pavia, has shown that people untrained in meditation enjoyed intense relaxation when they repeated a mantra.
However, it is easier if you already know the basics of meditation because to recite the mantra well, one must know how to place one’s concentration on a specific sound, accept the parasitic thoughts that arise and let them “pass” through one’s mind without clinging to them. The good news is that mantra meditation is often found to be more accessible than focusing on your own breath, which holds your mind less easily.
What are the benefits of mantras?
“Scientific studies have now proven that chanting mantras reduces anxiety and depressive symptoms, at the same time as it induces a state of relaxation and good humor “, affirms the researcher in psychology Gemma Perry. Thus, repeating a mantra in silence or while singing induces neuronal modifications associated with a decrease in anxiety.
“Concretely, we measure a reduction in blood pressure, a slowing of the pulse and a harmonization of stress hormone levels”, concludes Dr Hobert.
Recited on a regular basis, mantras therefore also help to better resist stress. In 2018, a study published inAmerican Journal of Psychiatry (source 1), showed that the silent repetition of a mantra improved the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorderamong war veterans. Other research, led by Gemma Perry in particular, found that chanting the mantra “Om” aloud increased attention and positivity, but also altruism and the feeling of social cohesion.
The basics are the same as for a “classic” meditation. “We sit on a cushion or on a chair with the spine straight, in its axis but in a position which must be comfortable”, specifies France Dhont-Padmavati.
We start with a simple exercise that consists of focus on his breathing to get in condition. With eyes closed, we observe the air coming in and out of the nostrils for a few minutes. Then we choose a mantra, and we soak up the sound and the syllables by repeating it several times aloud. It is not necessary to have a perfect command of your pronunciation. Then repeat it, mentally or in a low voice, for 5 to 10 minutes, focusing on its sound.
“You shouldn’t try to think about the pronunciation or the meaning of the mantra so as not to create tension, recommends Dr. Hobert. When you notice that the attention has slipped, you come back to the mantra.”
“The most important thing is to have a regular meeting, for example 5 or 10 minutes each day, in the morning or in the evening,” advises France Dhont-Padmavati.
Three easy mantras to recite
1. Meditation with the Shushumna mantra to reduce the physical repercussions of anxiety Ra Ma Da Sa, Sa Se So Hong is a mantra associated with a breathing exercise. It consists of 2 parts. “Ra Ma Da Sa” means “Go up to heaven”. We pronounce it while inhaling. “Sa Se So Hong” means “Bring down the healing powers of the upper world to earth”, and is pronounced while breathing out.
2. Meditation with the mantra of compassion to make peace with oneself and others Om Mani Padme Hum is the most important and oldest mantra in Tibetan Buddhism. It translates to “lotus jewel”. Its recitation expresses the wish that all human beings will overcome their suffering.
3. Meditation with the Adi-Mantra to reconnect with your inner balance Ong Namo, Guru Dev Namo can be translated as “I bow to the primary and creative energy, I bow to the subtle and divine wisdom”. He establishes a connection with his “higher self”.
Can we create our own mantra?
“Scientifically, we do not know if the meaning of the words that we repeat count or not in the benefits of the mantra, admits Gemma Perry. It is possible that the mere act of chanting has a psychological and physiological effect. “It might therefore be possible to apply this method to the sounds and words that inspire us!
Source 1: Individual Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Using Mantram Repetition: A Randomized Clinical Trial, American Journal of Psychiatry, June 20, 2018