Mantra and mind
Sound does a lot to us. For example, music can move us, bring us back to forgotten times or activate us physically. In Ayurveda and yoga therapy, the therapeutic use of mantra and sound falls under ‘Mantra Chikitsa‘: mantra therapy. The therapy is effective for mental agitation and overload, and can be used both preventively and curatively.
In times when a lot is asked of you, a clear and calm mind is sometimes hard to find. Your mind sometimes remains too active and can disrupt your sleeping pattern or you notice that it is increasingly difficult for you to concentrate. By reducing stimuli, getting physically moving and also applying mantra therapy, you can support the mind to regain balance.
The therapeutic use of mantra, a sound repeated in combination with breathing and a positive intention, can calm the nervous system and reduce over- or under-activity of the mind.
Which mantra or sound?
A mantra is selected in Ayurveda and yoga therapy based on the indication and appropriate to the person. The cultural and religious background is also taken into account. Repeating a mantra with a meaning that you cannot connect with only gives resistance in the mind, while with mantra therapy we want to calm the mind and nervous system. It is therefore important to find a sound or mantra that you feel good about and that you can attach a personal positive meaning to. A therapist or mentor can guide you individually in this.
The use of mantra has three types that often follow each other as phases from aloud to increasingly silent:
- Vachika : repeating the mantra aloud in a low, medium or high tone
- Upamshu : repeating the mantra softly
- Manasika : repeating the mantra in your mind
The sound ‘Om’
‘Om’ is an effective mantra and simple short sound that can be used if the person experiences a neutral or positive association with it. The ‘O’ sound is an open sound. Open sounds can give discharge to the nervous system. The ‘m’ sound gives a more buzzing sound in the back of the throat and can calm the nervous system. Repeating ‘O’ and ‘m’ together gives the ‘Om’ mantra.
How do you actually chant ‘Om’?
During a yoga class you may have heard the chanting of ‘Om’, where it sometimes seems as if the aim is to sound this mantra as long as possible and especially the ‘m’ sound is held for a very long time. Although popular, it has nothing to do with the original Vedic chanting or mantra therapy.
Hold the ‘O’ for three seconds, the ‘m’ for one second followed by a brief moment of silence. Both making sound and silence are part of the ‘Om’ mantra
Do you not feel comfortable with a mantra and would you rather try an open sound?
Use an open sound like “A” or “O” and repeat to the rhythm of your breathing.
Mantra therapy for you:
peace and clarity
With great restlessness in the head, little focus or concentration:
Sit comfortably with a straight back. Repeat the mantra aloud to the rhythm of your breathing. On each exhale chant ‘Om’ followed by a moment of silence. Inhale gently and evenly and repeat the sound on the exhale. After a while you let the mantra sound softer and softer and repeat it only in your mind to the rhythm of your breathing. Keep your attention on the mantra and your breathing. Do you notice your mind wandering? Then chant the sound aloud again.
With too much inactivity in the head, a foggy feeling or not really feeling present:
Stand up straight. Inhale and then raise the arms sideways above the head. On an exhalation bring the arms down and let the sound ‘Om’ sound followed by a moment of silence. Breathe in gently and evenly and repeat the movement and sound. Keep your attention on the mantra and your breathing.
In case of psychosocial or mental complaints, I advise you to only use mantra therapy under good supervision. Are you running into something or do you have questions? Please feel free to contact us.
Do you want to know more or personal advice?
You are welcome in our heart of yoga retreats (in Dutch) or in individual guidance & yoga therapy (in Dutch or English). Or for Ayurveda therapy .
Juliette Reniers, together with her partner Frank Eijkelkamp, owns yoga & Ayurveda retreat center The Land of Now, and is a yoga teacher & therapist, Ayurveda therapist (practitioner) & teacher, psychosocial counselor. In their teachings they take you to the heart of yoga. To the essence: the ‘lost teachings’ of authentic and breath-based yoga. Supported by the richness of Ayurveda.