MANTRA MEDITATION TECHNIQUE AND RESEARCH STUDY
MANTRA MEDITATION TECHNIQUE AND RESEARCH STUDY
“Mananaath Trayathe Iti Mantraha” - That which protects by constant repetition is a mantra.
Meditation is a beautiful way to tap into once internal knowingness and stay in touch with eternal essence. Mantra meditation involves the repetition of a group of words or mantra with the concept of surrender and renunciation. The mantra is a syllable, word or phrase (eg.OM) that is repeated during mantra meditation. Mantra recitation is an internal practice repeated in mind and with the purpose of the practitioner. Mantra can be audible sound while chanting is aloud and in groups too.
Mantra meditation technique broadly categorised under two essential components: mindfulness meditation and mantra recitation or chanting. This practice is quite ancient and has its roots in Buddhist and Hindu traditions where the mantra is the “sacred word”. It’s with devotion and respect for the deities the mantra chanting is done and requesting for protection.
Things of importance while practising mantra meditation are: - An intention, Consistency in practice and Focus on the breath to achieve a deeper state of meditation. The primary goal is to feel the subtle vibrations of the mantra that is being chanted by allowing the body and mind to flow with the moment and no force what so ever. E.g. Buddhist mantra is “Om Mani Padmé Hum.” Short positive affirmations can be chanted like mantras for best results.
Research On Mantra Meditation And Findings:-
*) The vibrations experienced during OM chanting with audible sound has the potential to stimulate the vagus nerve through its auricular branches and has effects on the brain.
*) During mantra chanting the movement of the tongue stimulates the meridian points on the roof of the mouth and has its influence on the hypothalamus which plays a vital role in many essential functions.
*) Study of chemoreceptors in the brain which are responsible for triggering breathing via chemoreflex response showed a decrease in chemoreflex sensitivity during mantra meditation - this suggests that this benefit (results of slow breath were 66 breaths /minute) was clearly due to mantra meditation rather than slow breathing alone and thus had positive effects on Cardiovascular System.
*)Research on long-time practitioners of mantra meditation exhibit physiological benefits like lower blood pressure, breathing rate minimum and well-oxygenated brain.
*) Results regarding a study on the vibrational effects of chanting a real mantra (Hare Krishna Hare Krishna) compared to a fake mantra (Sarva dasa Sarva dasa); on the balance of 3 guns showed interesting aspects of mantra meditation.
Results showed that the real mantra practitioners had higher scores for sattva gun and stress reduction whereas practitioners of made up mantra showed no change thus emphasises the importance of sound vibration as well-meaning of the mantra. Therefore mantra meditation has a positive effect at physical, cognitive, emotional and spiritual levels.
*) In a study; skin conductance and brain wave function were measured using electroencephalogram(EEG). The results showed decrease in skin conductance(a reduced stress response), increase in alpha activity (implies relaxed state and lack of cognitive processing) when reading the verses in Sanskrit as compared to other languages.
*)In a study to measure brain changes and the recitation of neutral phrase (“tables and chairs”) in moderately experienced meditators, during two mantra meditations( Acme and Kundalini traditions) through Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) procedure found mantra brings the brain to a more “aware” state compared to repeating a routine phrase.
*)Studies from eight fMRI showed that mantra activates the regions of the brain responsible for generating and staying focused on a sentence. These regions include the putamen, motor control network, pre-motor and supplementary motor cortices. That is, mantra chanting activated areas related to speech, while areas involved in the processing and comprehension of sounds and language were found deactivated. This deactivation proves that a mantra is a tool for focusing attention but that the meaning does not have to be understood to affect.
*)Study of the brain and factors that control gene expression during mantra recitation showed beneficial effects for post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD), depression, insomnia, cognition, decreased stress and anxiety, improves mood and enhances spiritual connectedness. Cognitively mantra can interrupt negative, anxious or irrational thoughts. Hence mantra has a positive effect on various levels like physical, cognitive, emotional and spiritual.
*)Group based mantra repetition program (MRP) when included along with usual treatments for PTSD in the Veterans Administration (VA)Healthcare System; the study showed significant improvement in PTSD hyperarousal symptoms, mental and spiritual well-being compared to usual treatment. A substantial reduction in burnout –related exhaustion and troubled consciences about stressful events and insomnia.
*)MRP study on adults with HIV reported a considerable increase in a positive reappraisal coping mechanism related to living with HIV when compared to those who were not in the mantra group(the control group). Decreased anger, increased spiritual faith and connectedness, which is positively associated with quality of life and can be a valuable coping resource. When paired with calm and peacefulness it becomes associated with positive memories.
*)Study on chanting vs listening suggests beneficial changes in the central nervous system, enhanced autonomic regulation, increased grey matter density, significant improvement in executive functions and a decrease in dementia symptoms.
*) Study by China Agricultural University demonstrates that the Buddhist mantra can help grow crops healthier and better.
*) Scientific analysis says that AUM mantra meditation regularly restores the balance of the body at physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels.
BENEFITS OF MANTRA MEDITATION
Overall studies prove the following benefits. They are:-
• Selfless service
• The attitude of “Let Go.”
• Intuitive and creative
• Helps the body to recover without medication
• Ideal blood pressure and improved nervous system
• Being receptive to blessing, patience and emotional wellbeing
• Positivity ,enhanced confidence, feeling energetic and focused
• Clarity of thought, self-awareness, connectivity with the divine energy
• Productivity and ability to get along at the workplace, academics
• Relief from anxiety, depression, stress and a greater feeling of relaxation.
• Awareness in being positive and keeping negative thoughts at bay for the body to heal on a cellular level
Mantra meditation practices are now being integrated into psychotherapy, school-based programs, corporate settings, prisons, the military, drug and alcohol treatment programs and hospitals.
Zen idea of mantra chanting is for the wellbeing of all living beings along those who are chanting. Such is the energy of the sound waves created.