Spirituality How Mantras Can Improve Your Mental Health By Julie Nguyen Julie Nguyen Julie Nguyen is a freelance mental health and sexuality writer. Her writing explores themes around mental well-being, culture, psychology, trauma, and human intimacy. Learn about our editorial process Published on March 16, 2023 Print Daniel de la Hoz / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents History Mantras vs. Affirmations vs. Intentions Examples Mantras in Meditation Practices Mantras and Mindfulness Using Mantras in Everyday Life A mantra is the continuous repetition of a particular word or phrase. Adding mantras to your meditation practice may help to improve your mental health. The History of Mantras Let's break down the term mantra using its etymology. ‘Man’ means mind, and ‘tra’ means tool or vehicle. For this reason, mantras can be seen as a sacred, numinous set of phrases that can transport you to a meditative state. The Earliest Use of Mantras Was Recorded 3,000 Years Ago Mantras originate from the ancient sound "Om," which is believed to be the sound of creation. In the book, Rituals, and Mantras: Rules Without Meaning, they recorded the earliest use of mantras in Vedic Sanskrit in India at least 3,000 years ago. Some believe these spiritual words are coded with a vibrational frequency that can energetically influence the subconscious mind and the surrounding environment. “Over time, mantras have become popularized and can be found in a wide range of places including religious practices, yoga studios, self-help books, therapy, and even children's classrooms to set the tone for the day,” social worker and yoga teacher Jillian Amodio tells Verywell Mind. Why Mantras Are So Powerful What makes mantras so powerful in various situations is how they can calm the mind. When incorporated into regular practice, it can bring awareness to the current moment and settle negative thoughts to calmer levels. Research shows the sound of a mantra being used within meditation has been “suggested to act as an effective vehicle to override [automatic] mental speech, which is the predominant form of conscious[ness] for most people." Stop Worrying by Staying Present With Mindfulness Mantras vs. Affirmations vs. Intentions A subtle yet important difference exists between mantras and repetitive phrases like intentions or affirmations. They all share many similarities in how they help nourish the mind and use phrases with focused intent. Mantras: The biggest difference is that mantras promote acceptance and spiritual presence because they originated from ancient languages. “It is believed that mantras create positive vibrations that will create a spiritual connection and affect change,” licensed marriage and family therapist, Deborah Vinall, PsyD, LMFT, shares. Affirmations: Affirmations are directive statements meant to overcome or challenge a particular set of internal or external beliefs. Intentions: Vinall explains that an intention similarly sets up a positive mental framework to guide people to live consciously, mindfully, and congruently with values. 25 Positive Daily Affirmations to Recite for Your Mental Health Examples of Mantras You can use mantras rooted in Buddhist or Hindu origins, but they can be modernized too. The most effective mantras will be specific and individual to you based on personal significance and the energetic essence it uniquely carries for you. Below are example mantras: OmI am that I amI am safeI am consciousnessI am protectedI am healthy I am worthyI am capableI am wisdomFear does not control mePerfection is a mythI am guided and heldMy mind is calm and clear I love and forgive myselfI honor my emotions I refuse to give upI am good enoughI am strongI am at peaceI am loveI am whole and completeI determine my happinessI value myselfI fill my heart with joy This, too, shall passMy life is a miracleEvery step I take is right in my journeyI surrender to the flow of the universeI love you, and I’m sorry; please forgive me; thank you Why Mantras Can Benefit Your Meditation Practice According to Vedic science, meditation is a practice that connects to one’s deeper inner self. The benefits of meditation can happen through a diverse number of techniques that include transcendental meditation, guided meditation, breathing meditation, mindfulness meditation, and more. Jillian Amodio, Social Worker, Yoga Teacher Over time, mantras have become popularized and can be found in a wide range of places, including religious practices, yoga studios, self-help books, therapy, and even children's classrooms to set the tone for the day. — Jillian Amodio, Social Worker, Yoga Teacher Repeating a mantra expands the mind since intentional stillness allows you to observe your thoughts without judgment. By focusing on a mantra in a meditative state, the quietude allows a deeper and universal consciousness to emerge slowly. Combining the two practices for new and skilled meditators can help increase calm and reduce anxiety. Studies suggested chanting mantras such as "Om" can quiet the amygdala and stimulate the vagus nerve to enable emotional processing and help neutralize the flight-or-fight response. From a physical well-being perspective, other researchers in 2022 found mantra meditation shows promising benefits for stress, anxiety, hypertension, and the immune system. “Mantras can help to settle and focus the mind in meditation through repetition of the single word, phrase, or idea,” Vinall says. “They can guide your breath as you incorporate the chosen words into intentional, deep patterns of inhalation and exhalation.” Benefits of Using Mantras for Mindfulness Repeating mantras can help you align with your goals and aspirations. Amodio says, “Reciting mantras can be personalized to suit the needs, wants, desires, and circumstances of each person.” Vinall points out that the benefits of mantras will vary depending on the choice of mantra as each word and phrase will help you focus your practice and pursue your intention. “For example, the mantra 'Om' can lead to a deeper sense of connection with humanity and the universe. A mantra of 'love and kindness' may help you to set your intention during meditation and live out these values throughout the day,” she says. Vinall elaborates that adding mantras into your mental well-being practice allows deeper truths to move past the usual defenses and doubts and settle deep into the psyche. By repeating words that harmonize with your mind-body-spirit, you can move from the logical pre-frontal cortex of the brain and into the limbic, instinctual regions of knowing. Deborah Vinall, PsyD, LMFT It is believed that mantras create positive vibrations that will create a spiritual connection and affect change. — Deborah Vinall, PsyD, LMFT On top of the presenting effects, Amodio notes mantras can help you regain control of thought patterns and put you back in the driver’s seat of your emotions. Mantras May Help Alleviate Distress Many studies note how mantra meditation as a non-pharmacological strategy can foster positive mental health because of its potency in driving away negativity and psychological distress, although more research is needed. “They’re meant to focus the mind, body, and breath in unison toward a certain thought, goal, intention, purpose, or manifestation,” Amodio says. “Mantras can benefit from things like stress management, a positive outlook, radical acceptance, and increased self-awareness.” What Is Self-Concept? How to Incorporate Mantras Into Your Life There isn’t a right or wrong way to use a mantra. Choose the words that resonate deeply with you, whether they’re traditional mantras or ones you create. Keep Your Mantras Positive "To create your own affirmation mantra, draw upon your strengths and those you wish to further develop. Word them in the present tense and using positive language—'I am' versus 'I am not',” Vinall encourages. Write Your Mantras Down Mantras don’t always have to occur in a yoga studio or in silence on a cushion, either. For ease, Vinall suggests writing mantras on notes in places you see often and repeating them as you walk or drive. For extra emphasis, she recommends connecting with your body as you reflect on your mantra. If you feel tension or anxiety anywhere, place your hand perhaps over your heart, head, neck, or belly, and repeat the words of reassurance and grounding that you need to hear. Close Your Eyes When Reciting Mantras “Close your eyes in moments of stress and repeat your mantra with deep, slow breathing, and notice how your mindset shifts,” Vinall says. “Be mindful in observing internal and interpersonal changes that occur as you repeat your truths.” Say Your Mantras Throughout the Day You can start off small by adding mantras into your day whenever you can. “Daily mantras such as affirmation cards or a positive thought of the day can help set an intention,” Amodio advises. Use Journals Amodio uses intention journals, positive thoughts of the day, phone apps, or mantra beads in her practice with her clients. Whatever suits you best. Amodio says, “The most important thing to remember when setting a mantra is to make it personal and applicable to you.” Summary Mantras are simple yet impactful ways to promote more spiritual presence and universal connection in your life. Not only does it connect you to the immediate moment, it helps slow down your mind with intention.Taking on a mantra practice can set you off on a journey to meet and re-meet all parts of yourself with awareness, compassion, and healing. The Benefits of Meditation for Stress Management 7 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Parthasarathi SK. Ancient science of mantras – wisdom of the sages. Int J Yoga. 2020;13(1):84-86. Staal F. Ritual and Mantras: Rules without Meaning. Motilal Banarsidass Publ.; 1996. Álvarez-Pérez Y, Rivero-Santana A, Perestelo-Pérez L, et al. Effectiveness of mantra-based meditation on mental health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022;19(6):3380. Sharma H. Meditation: Process and effects. Ayu. 2015;36(3):233-237. Kalyani BG, Venkatasubramanian G, Arasappa R, et al. Neurohemodynamic correlates of ‘OM’ chanting: A pilot functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Int J Yoga. 2011;4(1):3-6. Tseng AA. Scientific evidence of health benefits by practicing mantra meditation: narrative review. Int J Yoga. 2022;15(2):89-95. Mantra meditation for mental health in the general population: A systematic review. European Journal of Integrative Medicine. 2018;23:101-108. By Julie Nguyen Julie Nguyen is a freelance mental health and sexuality writer. 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