Updated: Dec 8, 2020
Mantras are healing statements that, when repeated, produce a profound effect in a person’s daily life. These statements along with daily positive affirmations, have the ability to re-write the subconscious mind and loosen the conditioned patterns that our subconscious mind is drawn towards. When we make the unfamiliar familiar, we draw attention to the new and disconnect from the old.
There are several ways to create mantras, however if you want to get started right away, I have created a simple guide below. You may start with the following example and then make up your own. If you have difficulty remembering to say your mantras throughout your day, you can set an alarm on your smartphone and name it your mantra. I personally have one that goes off at 9:00 every morning!
Think of a positive statement or something that you want to be true for you but may not be in your present moment.
Example, “I am happy, healthy and whole”
Repeat this statement for 30 seconds aloud. It is important that you hear yourself say the mantra.
Go about your daily life and when you have moments of stress or anxiety, say your mantra quietly to yourself or find a quiet space (bathroom) to say it aloud.
Notice your body; does it relax? Make a mental note of how you felt after repeating the mantra.
Return to your day and avoid judging the practice, it may take several days or weeks to see positive effects in your daily life.
Say your mantra every day and practice this new behavior for at least 21 days.
Review and compare where you were mentally/emotionally when you started this practice to how you feel after some time has passed.
Continue to practice until mantras become a natural tool in your self-care toolbox.
Try not miss any of these steps, as they are all necessary to create the new habit of tuning into your subconscious and autonomic nervous system.
Keep mantras short and easy to remember.
Focus on only one or two daily as you begin practicing.
Replace mantras with new ones as you grow in your ability to integrate positivity.
Avoid using “not” or “don’t want” in your mantras; only say what you do want to be true for you.
If you find it beyond your ability to say positive messages you can “wish it” for yourself.
“I wish I was happy, healthy and whole.”
Keep in mind that positive, affirming statements about yourself are not an ego trip. When we feel good about ourselves, we are less likely to judge or compare ourselves to others. It is a way to increase our empathy towards others as we learn to love and accept ourselves on a daily basis.
You may wonder how mantras work, and no one knows exactly how they do, however I propose that mantras work at a non-thinking level. When a person tries to control their behavior using their mind or thought process, it soon becomes an exercise in futility because the body is conditioned to physically react to subconscious patterns and desires. Consider the following questions; have you ever found yourself doing something you said you would “never do” or compulsively doing anything time and time again when you clearly have destructive consequences from that behavior? Consider for a moment that thoughts do not determine behavior, thoughts are thoughts, behaviors are behaviors, the meanings that we use to connect the two are just our perception of and belief in cause and effect. Eyewitness testimony is not highly regarded because of our inability to remember details accurately and because each person sees through their own lens of perception. Therefore, a more reliable tool (other than perception) is necessary in order to reach the subconscious.
In addition to rewriting subconscious patterning, mantras also help the nervous system calm down, which is the fight flight or freeze autonomic system (sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous system). Science has discovered, through the use of fMRI brain scans, that when the sympathetic nervous system is activated, higher functioning thought processes in the cerebral cortex is darkened, and it becomes “unplugged”. In simpler terms, the body goes into protective mode, which is run by the subconscious and the instinctual “thrive or die” lizard brain (the amygdala and brain stem). There is nothing wrong with this process; evolution has created it in order to protect our survival instinct. The most amazing thing about this process is that we do not have the ability to control autonomic functions. However, we can train ourselves to notice when it is on the brink of being activated, and this is the portal for rewriting the subconscious brain.
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Diana Ziegler, LMFT