From the Sanskrit root “manas,” meaning “mind,” and “tra,” which translates as “tool,” a mantra is literally a tool for the mind. Yoga classes today are full of affirmations and “OMs,” however these “mind tools” are anything but new. And, amazingly, their distant origins predicted truths about the human brain that would only be confirmed thousands of years later.
Ancient practitioners realized that humans have a tendency to fixate on certain ideas, fears, or desires. This is constantly happening whether we know it or not, and it matters because what we repeat, we become. You may, without realizing it, be repeating the phrase “It drives me crazy when….” If so, you are literally practicing having things drive you crazy. If you consistently honk your horn while in traffic, you are tuning into that sound and reminding yourself that when you’re frustrated, this is how you react. You are repeating—and therefore becoming good at—road rage. Likewise, if you have an aversion to spiders, you may find yourself saying “I’m afraid of spiders.” The fear might be small, but with every repetition, it grows and becomes reinforced. After repeating it for a lifetime, you are not just afraid—you are accustomed to being afraid.
Many sacred teachings focus on stopping this tendency or finding ways to transform it, but some aspirants took another approach. They figured that if obsessing is our natural state, why not use this to our advantage? Why not intentionally repeat a word or phrase that would be beneficial to us as a way to harness the power of the mind?
Fast forward a few millennia, and science has validated the fact that the human brain actually does create patterns. And not just thought or emotional patterns—the brain itself PHYSICALLY CHANGES based on how it is used.
Like ice melting on top of a mountain, a thought trickles down the river of your brain. When more thoughts come, just like snowmelt, they will most likely flow through the channel that has already been created rather than forge a new one. Like the rest of nature, our thoughts follow the path of least resistance.
Mantra reminds us that we are always repeating something, so we might as well be aware of what we repeat and create some intentional patterns.
As we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month, we wanted to highlight some mantra practices that train us to use our brains more intentionally. This collection is literally a “toolbox for the mind,” with an instrument for every challenge we face. In a world of innovation and technology, sometimes the oldest tools still work the best!
Daily Morning Mantra: https://glo.yoga/2vImVWZ
Tranquil Flow with Mantra: https://glo.yoga/2JiLthb
Advanced Mantra Practice in the Four Bodies: https://glo.yoga/2J39WHV
To see more, visit: https://glo.yoga/2H2mbSS