They may have become an Instagram cliche, but mantras are an ancient spiritual technique that can help change your life. Writer Chloe Gray explains how.
Here at Huel, we're against the meaningless cliched motivational lines that usually rule January. However, we do know that this is the month we’re most likely to crave change: a 2020 study, published in PLoS One, found that 44% of respondents are either likely or very likely to make a New Year’s resolution.
Yet the infamous stat that 80% of resolutions don’t make it to February still stands as we struggle to maintain our new lifestyles. Perhaps the key to making and keeping a non-hackneyed plan for the year is creating a motivational mantra.
A mantra might sound a bit too Instagram spirituality, but it’s so much more than what wellness influencers have sold to you. “Mantra is a Sanskrit word - 'man' meaning 'to think' and 'tra' meaning ‘tool’,” explains Pallavi Prasad aka @positivepowercoach, a manifestation, mindset, and mindfulness coach.
“They’re a word or a sentence that helps you calm or provide motivation to reach the state of mind you want to be in. Mantras originated from India from my religion of Hinduism. Hindus used mantras to not only activate the chakras [energy points] in the body with different sounds such as 'om', but also repeated mantras to repeat the intentions, feel emotions, and shift reality.”
Mantras are “instruments of thought”, adds Prasad, with the idea being that your mantra becomes the lens through which you see the world. When you repeatedly tell yourself that you are worthy or confident, for example, that can shape how you act, feel, and live and in turn help you believe those things about yourself.
But the powerful concept has become watered down. “Although mantras are a simple concept and can be chanted by anyone and applied to all areas of life, I think social media has missed the point of them,” she explains.
Online, mantras are sold as ways to get what we want without effort. Much like affirmations and meditations, mantras have become simple phrases that are used as a reminder for material, financial, or emotional things that we currently lack. They are very much seen as magic - conjuring a life or item without trying. But mantras are actually meant to be spiritual and emotional tools that shift our mindsets and perceptions.
“Mantras help to shift our current reality to our desired reality through repetition of words or sentences and feeling the emotions of those mantras. When we are in need of calm or courage, motivation or protection, we can write mantras that resonate with us and repeat them, feeling as though we already have the desired emotion or reality,” explains Prasad.
With studies showing strong evidence that practicing meditative mantras can relieve stress and reduce hypertension, getting it right is key. Kno wing where to start with a mantra can feel overwhelming, but while there are plenty of guides and Instagram posts out there for you to copy, it’s best not to pick up on someone else’s mantra.
“Mantras need to resonate with what you personally desire from life. For example, your career ambitions may differ completely from someone else's, so following their mantra won’t help you achieve your reality. While they may aim for protection, you might seek strength,” Prasad explains.
Research shows that intrinsic motivation - engaging in activities for your own enjoyment and satisfaction, rather than to get a reward or satisfy other people - is associated with higher performance and better outcomes. So it makes sense that the same would apply to your mantra writing: finding a chant you believe in, that you feel motivated to repeat and that aligns with your values means it’s more likely to stick than using a mantra that’s not aligned with your needs and wants. After all, if you don’t really believe or care about the thing you’re bringing to the surface, it will be harder to make it a reality.
“Intent plays a key role in mantras,” says Prasad. “The more we think about the intention and feel the emotions, the more the mantras help us get closer to our desires.”
According to Prasad, there are four simple rules that all mantras should follow.
Firstly, a mantra should be short. The reason for this is obvious: you want it to be something you can call to memory multiple times throughout the day. A short sentence or even a few words works best.
Secondly, all mantras should be said in the present tense. “Rather than thinking back to problems of the past or worrying about the future, mantras should be grounded in what you’re doing right now to change your reality,” explains Prasad.
Mantras should also be positive. Prasad recommends writing down a positive mantra any time you feel negative emotions. If you are in a meeting where you feel like no one is listening and you are struggling to get your point across, you could tell yourself in your head: “I am a capable authority.” “These positive feelings may feel unbelievable to tell yourself at first, but with repetition, your subconscious mind begins to feel the positive emotions and bring this to your reality,” she says.
Finally, rather than your mantra focusing on releasing the negative emotion, it should be focused on bringing in the good stuff. “For example, instead of saying, 'I let go of what no longer serves me', which makes me invoke my negative thoughts and emotions and can leave me reeling over the bad things in my life, I would say, 'I invite my charismatic energy to fill me in with possibilities'. Just saying this version makes the good energy flow,” says Prasad.
Mantras are best practiced whenever you need them, but Prasad recommends saying them in front of a mirror, as looking into your eyes can help the mantra resonate. She also suggests writing down your mantras. “It’s a powerful practice. I like to write my mantras either first thing in the morning or last thing before bed to begin and end my day in alignment,” she adds.
You can have multiple mantras to say at different times of day and you can also switch up your mantras whenever you need to. “After experiencing two miscarriages, my mantra then was all about helping my body heal. I said: 'My body is my best friend. I thank my body for being there with me through this phase of my life.' After conceiving two girls, this mantra no longer serves me. Instead, right now, I am driven to work on my business goals. One of my favorite mantras at the moment is, 'Wherever my attention ges, my manifestation grows.' It packs in lots of self-belief,” says Prasad.
So, what mantra will you use to create your new reality this year?
Words: Chloe Gray
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