Mantras for Anxiety: Types, Benefits and More

Mantras for Anxiety: Types, Benefits and More

Mantras for anxiety are aimed at relieving anxiety through spiritual support, enlightenment and promoting feelings of calm. A mantra is a word, sound or phrase that a person repeats while meditating or chanting.

Practitioners of mantra meditation believe that these words have spiritual or magical powers to alleviate suffering and promote spiritual enlightenment. The concept of a mantra originally comes from Buddhist and Hindu traditions. Most traditional mantras are in Sanskrit and use elongated vowels to support the chanting.

More recently, people have used the term mantra to refer to any phrase or phrase that a person repeats to themselves, including traditional Sanskrit mantras, prayers and phrases from other religious traditions, and inspirational words and expressions.

A number of studies suggest that soothing mantras may help relieve anxiety and other mental illnesses, such as depression. Many studies allow practitioners to choose a personal mantra that aligns with their beliefs.

For people who do not practice Buddhism or Hinduism, English words and phrases are a way to use mantra-based meditation without engaging in cultural appropriation.

Read on to learn more about mantras for anxiety, including their origins, their potential benefits, and how they may be effective in treating mental illness.

Mantras are short phrases or words that a person chants or repeats to himself, often while meditating, cultivating mindfulness, or breathing deeply.

A person can use mantras to induce a calm, meditative state and focus on ideas and words that are important to him.

The concept of mantras arises from in Hinduism and Buddhism, where the use of mantras is an important spiritual practice. These mantras use Sanskrit words or phrases. Practitioners can use mantras as part of their spiritual practices, while practicing yoga, or as a way to cultivate mindfulness.

While Eastern practices have traveled west, many Western practitioners have embraced the Sanskrit mantras. Some now also use English mantras, or mantras based on Christian or other spiritual traditions.

Mantras provide several benefits, including:

  • a focal point for meditation
  • a soothing, affirming message
  • a distraction from fear
  • a sense of spiritual and emotional connection

Several studies suggest that mantras can improve mental health. However, these studies do not show that specific mantras or the religious practices underlying them are important. On the contrary, researchers generally find it helpful to repeat soothing phrases while meditating.

For example, a 2018 systematic review found overall improvements in stress, anxiety, anger, depression and burnout in participants in 37 studies. However, the authors caution that many of the studies were of low quality.

A 2021 randomized controlled trial assessed the effects of 6 months of mantra meditation in 60 people with depression compared to progressive muscle relaxation in 63 people with depression. After 6 months, participants in mantra meditation had clinically relevant reductions in depression symptoms, especially mood symptoms.

Mantras draw from Hindu and Buddhist traditions, each of which has its own designated types of mantras. In Buddhism and Yoga, practitioners often refer to three types of mantras: Bija (seed) mantras, Saguna (with form) mantras, and Nirguna (without form) mantras.

Bija mantras correspond to the seven chakras and often precede Saguna mantras to give them more power.

Some other types of mantras are:

  • Mantras from other religions: For example, a Christian may recite the Ave Maria.
  • Short, personally meaningful sentences: A person can personally develop comforting mantras.
  • Single words: A person who does not speak Sanskrit can choose one-word sentences from his own language. Words containing rows of vowels are useful in chanting.

Effective fear mantras should reflect the way a person wants to feel and their personal beliefs. They should be short enough for easy repetition.

Some options to consider are:

One Word Mantras

Short, vowel-intensive, one-word mantras allow a person to slowly repeat a single word while meditating. Try one of the following:

  • calm
  • ease
  • to calm down
  • free
  • to breathe
  • peace

As you recite these single words, take a deep breath before saying the word, then exhale slowly as you take out the vowels.

Calming Phrases

Calming phrases can help a person repeat a comforting message. People can choose the phrases they find most soothing and helpful, for example:

  • I choose rest.
  • I am safe and secure.
  • Fear is a liar.
  • Nothing can be done about it.
  • There is no danger.
  • I feel the fear and continue.
  • Fear is not dangerous.
  • Rest overwhelms me.

Confirming sentences

Affirmative phrases remind a person that they can work through fear and anxiety. Try one of the following:

  • Fear makes me stronger.
  • I embrace this challenge.
  • This is temporary.
  • Fear does not define me.
  • Courage means acting out of fear.
  • I am learning from this challenge.
  • Become the fire.

People with depression sometimes experience anhedonia, an inability to feel joy. Mantras that challenge this feeling and encourage a person to carry on, especially past suicidal thoughts, can be helpful.

Examples are:

  • I will not choose a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
  • There is joy to be found even now.
  • I embrace small joys. (Someone can name one or two things here, such as a beloved child or a beautiful flower.)
  • Feeling sad is a normal part of life. I am still worthy.
  • This is temporary.
  • Depression is playing tricks in my head.
  • Don’t listen to the lies of depression.
  • I choose happiness.
  • Happiness is still possible.

Meditations for general mental health offer the assurance that there is life and joy on the other side of a temporary crisis. People can try any of the following:

  • This too will pass.
  • This is a temporary problem.
  • It won’t matter in 10 years.
  • Try again, fail again, fail better.
  • Success often requires failure.
  • I have everything I need to thrive.
  • I’m worth it.
  • I deserve to feel love.

Some common mantras in Sanskrit are:

  • About: A single sound that according to some traditions is the sound of the universe.
  • Om Namah Shivaya: A mantra that means “I bow to Shiva.”
  • Om Mani Padme Hum: A mantra that translates as, “The jewel is in the lotus.”
  • Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo: A mantra that translates as, “I bow to the creative wisdom and the divine teacher within.”
  • Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih: A mantra some practitioners interpret as, “Let there be peace, peace, peace.”

Cultural appropriation is the taking of another’s culture without regard for history or context. It often involves not treating something with the respect it deserves and has to do with the targeting of minority groups and cultures by relatively powerful groups. Examples include when white Americans internalize elements of black American culture or engage in a type of racism known as blackfishing.

Another example of cultural appropriation is repeating a Sanskrit word without understanding its meaning or context or using Mala prayer beads as jewelry.

To avoid cultural appropriation, a person may consider using only mantras they understand in a language they speak. People should also avoid mantras that endorse religious ideas that they do not embrace or understand. For example, it would be inappropriate for a Christian to use Buddhist mantras.

Mantras can help relieve an anxious mind, direct a person’s attention to positive messages, or induce a meditative state.

Mantra-based meditation is a spiritual practice, and people who want to try using mantras should choose mantras that are in accordance with their personal and religious beliefs.

People who want to try traditional Sanskrit mantras should consider learning about their history and the culture that surrounds them. A teacher may be able to help.

Mantras for Anxiety: Types, Benefits and More

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