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Do Mantras Really Work?

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Do Mantras Really Work?

Listen to CNN or any news channel or read the newspapers and you will hear many mantras. Whether it’s “Socialism is bad!” from the tea-baggers, or “Yes we can!” from President Obama’s campaign, strong figures often use repeated phrases, either negative or positive, to get people motivated.

This use of the word mantra has arisen from the traditional custom of chanting sacred sounds or names, as done in many religious practices. Such repetition has also been put to music that transcends religious boundaries.

Sitting in a room filled with melodious voices, we were listening to the fabulous Deva Premal and Miten. They are masters at chanting and at getting the audience to participate. Spending a few hours singing a foreign language (many chants are in Sanskrit) may not sound like a lot of fun, but it has a remarkable effect. It really does uplift the spirit.

Sounding in this way is not only used to worship the sacred but also to create harmony by unifying voices into a synchronized whole. This is particularly effective if the sound does not require thought (such as being sung in an unknown language), as it is the sound that is important and not the meaning. The unity can easily be lost if the thinking mind intrudes.

Deepesh Faucheux, who was a Catholic monk, told us in our latest book (see below) about the effect of the Gregorian chanting in his monastery: “Gregorian frequency works on the brain in a particular way to elevate us to a spiritually altered state. It was always a collective chant–what is called ecclesia. A group of people with a single purpose of worship attuned together, their behavior, sensibilities, and moods all harmonized. The frequency of the sound deeply affected us, it smoothed out the rough edges, anger or fear. It was like Prozac. I would get very high, even transported. It made many of the petty things that happened seem totally unimportant and made life in the monastery bearable, even blissful. It was the only therapy the monastery needed! But when we stopped chanting in Latin and tried to do it in the local dialect, many of the monasteries and convents fell apart because the people started fighting with each other. They had lost that shared integrative quality.”

Next: Chanting as a healer

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Ed and Deb Shapiro

You can learn more in our book, Be The Change: How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors Marianne Williamson, Jane Fonda, Ram Dass, Byron Katie and others. Our 3 meditation CD’s: Metta—Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi–Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra–Inner Conscious Relaxation, are available at:


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11:07AM PDT on Aug 6, 2011

Got to do this again. Thank you for this article, Ed & Deb! :-)

9:34PM PDT on Jul 14, 2011

I've got a mantra that really works, and here it is:
PRAISE GOD, PRAISE GOD..........AT LEAST 100 TIMES. I don't feel God gets enough praise or respect or appreciation. So when I do this chanting I feel so close to God and I feel God so close to me. I hope you all will use this mantra and have the same experience.

8:44PM PDT on Jul 12, 2011

Can we have this stuff piped into the room where congress meets? You know, just soft and low, like a back round drone.I would love to see what effect sycronized brain waves would have on the efficiency levels of the people there.

8:48AM PDT on Jul 11, 2011

listening to gayatri chant relaxes me

11:48AM PDT on Jul 7, 2011

Audio is an untapped resource of emmense power and understood by only a tiny minority of initiates.

5:37AM PDT on Jul 7, 2011

By the way, we had socialism in Poland for many years and it wasn't as bad as you may think. There was no unemployment and life was much calmer than now. Socialism only lost to capitalism due to the Cold War and the arms race.

5:37AM PDT on Jul 7, 2011

By the way, we had socialism in Poland for many years and it wasn't as bad as you may think. There was no unemployment and life was much calmer than now. Socialism only lost to capitalism due to the Cold War and the arms race.

5:34AM PDT on Jul 7, 2011

I thought mantras were spiritual, not political.

5:44PM PDT on Jul 6, 2011

i agree that latin had a hypnotic effect. at least it did on me.

5:34PM PDT on Jul 6, 2011

Oh yes...this is true. One of my favorites is "No mo Kuan she yin pu sa". I do this one sometimes before I start meditating after a long hard day. It's very peaceful and calming. Also love to do it when hiking in the woods in the quiet. Makes me feel closer to nature.
I have some from you tube that friends sent me on facebook too. I listen to them when I need just to be calm or relax. : )

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