Mantra comes from Sanskrit – ‘man’ meaning mind, and ‘tra’ meaning instrument. A tool to shift the state of consciousness of the mind. This can be felt in uttering the mantra, Om.
You may find that a mantra help ground you, remind you of your intention for that moment, or guide you to reconnect with your breath.
Ever since Omni was just a few days old I have chanted Om with him. He tuned into the sound with me well before he could even articulate words. I recall his soft gentle face, touching my chest, as we’d hum to this soothing sound together in unison. This rhythm matched the beat of our hearts, and felt very nurturing, soothing, and calming for our breaths.
Mantras can also come in the form of a phrase to set your intention. In 2017 I befriended author Julie Dargis. She gifted me with her book White Moon in Powder Blue Sky accompanied with a Oracle deck of cards that hold messages or mantras. With the start of 2018, I found myself drawing a card from this deck once every few days. The first card of 2018 was “Prioritize your Current Life Lessons.”
Calming the breath through Om, or any specific type of mantra has a positive neurological affect. Breath therefore serves as a function not just for oxygen, but for your emotional state of well being. A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, “Rhythm of Breathing Affects Memory and Fear” highlights the influence of deep breathing on your emotional health (regulating the interactions with the autonomic nervous systems – including the sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous system; and most specifically the limbic system’s impact on responding to sensory input from the environment to the hypothalamus).
There are bursts of moments when both kids and adults need to calm the breath. Just today Omni found himself have an emotional meltdown, of sorts. He was making a Happy Birthday card fora friend. Unfortunately, the felt tip pen that he used to traced a drawing left blurred colors on the drawings. Being the meticulous boy that he is, he found the lack of crisp lines quite frustrating, resulting in rapid breathing and tears. Eventually, we teamed up on our inhaling with deep breaths, we chanted Om, and eventually we included a mantra on the card ‘I am Peace” (which he thought made the card complete).
Strategies such as mantras are therefore useful for kids as well as adults, as they have a holistic effect in terms of calming the mind and breath. What is your mindfulness mantra?