Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Do you have a personal mantra?

You should.

Research shows that thinking of a word or phrase that affirms our values—and repeating it over and over—produces powerful physiological changes. It can lower our cortisol levels, enhance endurance and reduce perception of effort during physical exertion. Perhaps even more compelling, a mantra can quiet the mind…This isn’t a bad thing—as long as we’re thinking thoughts that are beneficial. But too many of us beat ourselves up, ruminating on the same negative beliefs.  Mantras can create and strengthen new neural pathways that are positive and not toxic. And that can make our brain much calmer and happier…

The earliest mantras appeared 3,500 years ago and were repetitive prayers or hymns. By the time meditative yoga developed, in the last few centuries B.C.E., mantras were being used to calm and control the mind. Modern mantras are still a sort of a prayer—for what we wish to be. They’re effective because they’re repetitive and simple, making them easy to turn into a habit. We don’t have to search for the positive thought to call up; we already have it.

People invoke mantras during times of stress…Some are just one word: “Breathe.” “Shine.” “Love.” Others are phrases: “This will pass.” “You’ve come this far, now push to go further.” How can you choose the best mantra for you? Not just any clichéd motto—“Just do it!”—will do.

Picture yourself older and wiser. Now think about what advice this evolved version of yourself would most want to give you right now to make your life better. Write it down. And distill it into single word, phrase or short sentence. “Make sure that it rings true for you, that it makes you feel good, empowered, reassured, and hopeful…Choose several. ‘Having one mantra can become monotonous or routine and it can lose its meaning…But don’t have so many mantras that you have to struggle to recall them. Keep it short. It needs to be easy to remember. Make sure it is positive. But not unbelievable. “If it’s too positive, it can feel hokey—‘I’m good enough, smart enough and people like me…Trigger your mantra. Practice thinking about what’s bothering you and then saying your mantra. This will train your brain to call up the word or phrase as a habit when you are stressed. Picture your new neural pathways. Loretta Breuning…suggests you picture electricity flowing effortlessly through your neurons.

~ Elizabeth Bernstein, excerpts from One Habit to Make You Happier TodayRepeating a positive phrase, or mantra, to yourself creates new pathways between neurons in your brain, conditioning you to feel calmer and healthier


Image: stefan beutler (via Newthom)

Comments

  1. compassion always.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Sounds very much like Catholic ejaculatory prayers (see http://infomory.com/what-is/what-are-ejaculatory-prayers/); only Catholics aren’t just relying on their own brain chemistry to come to the rescue. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you are right Sarah:

      “When there is a sudden need for inspiration, guidance, or help from God, many people also resort to reciting ejaculatory prayers. Â There are also people who usually say these prayers in silence because most of the prayers talk about personal struggles, triumphs, or requests. Â Ejaculatory or aspirations prayers are also considered very intimate because it speaks of people’s inner feelings and desires.”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hmmmm….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Tomorrow is another day.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. THIS IS JUST A PHASE, this is just a phase, thisisjustaphase….

    Liked by 2 people

  7. christinesat says:

    This one nearly always helps me:
    Breathing in, breathing out
    I am strong.
    I am wonderful.
    I am enough.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Picture your new neural pathways. Loretta Breuning…suggests you picture electricity flowing effortlessly through your neurons. This leaves me out. I have post polio syndrome.
    I’ll try Dante’s quote from “The Divine Comedy”: “In His will, is my peace.”
    -Alan

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I say Om mani padme hum a lot, but I have many others that I’ve been taught too. It’s a great way to focus and keep away from our busy mind. It really works. 😌

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Need to noodle on this a bit. I like the idea, but at the moment, I got nothin’. Hmmm, maybe my mantra should be ‘Seek’ ☺️

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I too have several, acquired over the years, from yoga and modern sages like Tolle.
    The two that come to mind are “everything changes”. We think things will stay the same, but they never do.
    And ” I inhale peace. I exhale release” this is powerful for the middle of the night, when I have so many things on my mind, or sitting to meditate.
    P.s. Traditionally Mantra is a way to focus the mind in order to let go of overactive thinking. The rhythm and focus brings you inwards. Prayer is different, it is asking for something that we want from the Universe or God.
    Both work ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Wow, I learnt a lot from this David. Firstly that I don’t have a mantra and how it might help. This is going to need a lot more thought, but meanwhile I am going to see how I get on with a nice gentle “slow down!”.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. ah ha, mantras. yes. they do work. I have several. usually I hit the naughty ones first though. then…. I remember my other ones. But, yes. they do work. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. “Wait” is my go-to mantra. The affirmation on my bathroom mirror says, “You are worth every moment of the struggle.”

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Or let your feet on the ground be your prayer in each moment: a living mantra. As it were.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Exhale, just exhale. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

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