Meditation practitioners, that use Mantras, use an utterance of a sound, word, or group of words to elicit a mental state, psychological or spiritual power. The most common mantra is Aum or “OM” which in some cultures is believed to contain every vibration of the universe. It is said that the vibration moves through the practitioner overtime and carries one into deeper states of awareness.
Mantras in other Religions
Mantras are used predominantly in the Hindu religion but can be seen in other cultures as well. Catholics, for example, can be seen to repeat the hail Mary prayer, Jews can be seen to recite Barukah atah Adonai, and Muslims may be seen repeating the name Allah like a mantra.
Mantra Meditation Etymology
The Manta derives from the sanskrit manas(mind) and tra(tool) which would translate as “a tool for the mind.” Other meanings of the word can be derived from its root word in other languages. For example, In Chinese the translation is 眞言, 真言, zhenyan or ‘true words’
Mantra Meditation Science
There is evidence to suggest in the study: Byond an Active Task: a Pilot Study that mantras might aid in suppressing the default mode network of the brain that leads to daydreaming and mind-wandering and the neurological basis for self. This suggests that suppression of the default mode network would help improve concentration and the development of new desired behaviors.
Mantra Meditation Techniques
Most mantra meditation teachers recommend that one sits or lays down in a comfortable position and repeats a manta once through exhalation and once through inhalation. It’s recommended that one does not fixate on thoughts in one’s head but rather notice the thoughts and then return to the mantra. 10-20 minutes practice per day should be adequate. Certain teachers would recommend that one sticks to a particular mantra for several months before switching to a new mantra as one must wait for the mantra to “open up to you”