One of my favorite forms of meditation is mantra meditation, in which you repeat a mantra as you sit. A mantra can be a single word or a whole sentence. Focusing on the mantra helps keep other thoughts from intruding. It’s hard to get lost in a trail of thoughts while you’re focusing on repeating a mantra. These two tasks use the same part of the brain.
In traditional mantra meditation, called japa, you repeat the mantra 108 times. Through repetition we create either positive or negative habit patterns.
Japa practice helps me calm my overactive mind while keeping my hands busy. You keep count with a beaded necklace called a mala, using your thumb to move one bead at a time as you work your way around the necklace.
Beyond calming the mind, mantra meditation can also be a source of healing.
Numerous studies have demonstrated the healing effect of sounds.
These shifts are amplified when we generate the sound.
It’s also been found that self-created sounds such as chanting will cause the left and right hemispheres of the brain to synchronize. Such chanting will also help oxygenate the brain, reduce our heart rate, blood pressure and assist in creating calm brainwave activity. In addition, listening to certain chants has great beneficial effects. — Jonathon Goldman, author of The 7 Secrets of Sound Healing
There’s a reason that virtually every religion incorporates some form of chanting in prayer: chanting is a force for healing.
What’s cool about this practice is that you don’t have to be “religious” or believe in the words — or even know what they mean — for this to work.
The vibration you create from chanting does the work whether you believe in it or not.
- Quoted in “The Science of Mantras: Mantras Work With or Without Faith; Research Supports the Effectiveness of Sanskrit Mantra for Healing — and Even Environmental Transformation” by Josephine Nolan at Buddha Weekly ↩