• Janet Golownia

Mantras: an instrument of the mind that takes you beyond the mind

What does this mean? When you focus on a mantra during meditation it helps to calm your nervous system and it makes positive changes in your brain. Science backs this up in two studies done by a Harvard neuroscientist, Dr. Sara Lazar. The first study looked at long term meditators vs. a control group. Long term meditators had increased gray matter in the auditory and sensory cortex, but surprisingly they also had more gray matter in the frontal cortex. The frontal cortex is associated with working memory and decision making. "In this one region of the prefrontal cortex, 50-year-old meditators had the same amount of gray matter as 25-year-olds."

The second study took people who had never meditated before and put one group through an eight-week mindfulness-based stress-reduction program. Here are the findings for those involved in the mindfulness program. The most notable difference was in the posterior cingulate region of the brain, which is involved in mind wandering. The next difference was seen in the left hippocampus, which assists in learning, memory and emotional regulation. Differences were also found in the temporal parietal junction, that part of the brain associated with perspective, empathy, and compassion. Other differences were noted in the pons which is a part of the brain stem where neurotransmitters are produced. All these parts of the brain increased in size except for the amygdala which is the fight or flight part of the brain associated with the stress response. The amygdala got smaller in the group involved in the mindfulness-based stress-reduction training. This change in the amygdala was correlated to a reduction in stress levels.

Here are some mantras for you to try as you meditate ...

sat chit ananda (pronounced saht chit ah-nan-dah)

sat means existence, chit means awareness, ananda means bliss

As you repeat this mantra imagine you are centered and totally at peace.

Our inner dialogue filters our every day reality. Repeating this mantra over time will help you master your inner dialogue and change what you see as reality.

moksha (pronounced moke-sha) meaning I Am Free

As you repeat this mantra imagine that you are free from blaming and guilt, that you are free from habitual impulses, and that there is no limitations to what you can manifest.

You can find the first study here

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