As spiritual practices continue to permeate the wellness world due to their mental health benefits, many have noted the soothing properties of chanting mantras. The simple act of repeating a set of syllables creates positive impacts on the nervous system that can soothe anxiety and feelings of unease. Indeed, Healthline reports that the Sanskrit word “mantra” translates to “release” — not a bad way to unwind.
The outlet explains that the benefits of chanting include a lowered level of stress, higher amounts of self-compassion, and increased self-awareness. Just sitting down, shutting your eyes and focusing on the sacred sounds can make a huge readjustment to your mind and body. Plus, if you find it difficult to bring your focus to the present moment during meditation, a mantra can give your mind a place to go and make your relaxation time that much easier.
The science behind mantras revolves around their vibrations. Healthline notes that these vibrations are thought to release stagnant energy throughout the system, leaving you feeling more open and expanded — with way less pent-up stress. With all of the repetitions and refocused energy, chanting also positively alters your brain. A 2012 study even showed that practitioners who practiced a chanting meditation experienced better cognitive function and blood flow within the brain.
Chanting mantras can increase your capacity to focus
Since chanting creates a meditative state in which your body and mind relax while still repeating the sounds, it also helps reduce mind chatter. Yoga Journal cites research findings that show a calmed default mode network in the brain, which is the area that manages the pace of your thoughts. With a relaxed default mode network, you’ll feel less distracted and much more at ease with your daily routine. Rozalyn Simon, Ph.D., author of the study, explained, “The study suggests that mantra training can more effectively reduce [default mode network]–related distractions than something like tapping along to the beat.”
Healthline also reports that mantra work can aid in your ability to control your breathing. The adjustment time it takes to get used to chanting can impact your inhales and exhales, meaning that you may notice a change in your breathing patterns as well. Furthermore, chanting directly stimulates the vagus nerve — the nerve responsible for everything from digestion to the state of your mental health. By using the muscles in your throat and mouth, it activates this nerve to create clearer communication throughout this network of nerve endings, Self Hacked reports.
As for which mantras to repeat, you can stick with classics like “Ohm” or the Kirtan Kriya mantra. You can also use any mantras that work for you centering around self-love or self-acceptance. The point is that you carve out time to connect with your voice and find peace and quiet.
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