[INDOLOGY] Repetitive recitation of a mantra

Nagaraj Paturi nagarajpaturi at gmail.com
Mon Mar 2 14:21:30 EST 2020


Neuroscientists, equipped with advanced brain-imaging tools, are beginning
to quantify and confirm some of the health benefits of this ancient
practice, such as its ability to help free your mind of background chatter
and calm your nervous system. In one study recently published in the *Journal
of Cognitive Enhancement
researchers from Linköping University, in Sweden, measured activity in a
region of the brain called the default mode network—the area that’s active
during self-reflection and mind wandering—to determine how practicing
mantra meditation affects the brain. From a mental health perspective, an
overactive default mode network can mean that the brain is distracted—not
calmed or centered.

Researchers behind the Linköping University study asked a group of subjects
to take part in a two-week Kundalini Yoga course that included six
90-minute sessions over the course of two weeks. Each session started with
yoga exercises (asana <https://www.yogajournal.com/poses> and breathing
<https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/types/pranayama>) and finished with 11
minutes of mantra-based meditation <https://www.yogajournal.com/meditation>.
The subjects recited the Sat nam mantra
<https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/kundalini-yoga-sat-nam-meaning> (roughly
translated as “true identity”) while placing their hands over their hearts.

The same group also performed a finger-tapping control condition—in which
they were instructed to perform slow-paced button pressing on a four-button

The subjects’ default mode networks were more suppressed during the mantra
meditation than during the finger-tapping exercise—and suppression grew as
mantra training increased. “The study suggests that mantra training can
more effectively reduce [default mode network]–related distractions than
something like tapping along to the beat,” says Rozalyn Simon, PhD, who
authored the study.

Research findings such as these do not profess to prove that mantra is a
life-saving technique. But as Malia knows well, when we are beholden to our
discursive mind, we can easily be led down the path to negative
headspace—further away from our true, relaxed nature. In fact, research
suggests that it doesn’t matter whether you recite an ancient Sanskrit
<https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/sanskrit> mantra such as Sat nam, or
the Lord’s Prayer, or any sound, word, or phrase—as long as you repeat
something with focused attention, you’ll get results.

Since the 1970s, Herbert Benson, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical
School and founder of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine
<https://www.bensonhenryinstitute.org/> at Massachusetts General Hospital,
has been researching how meditation and prayer can alter mental and
physical states. He’s been particularly interested in what brings on a
meditative state, which he calls “the relaxation response.” Benson has
experimented with subjects repeating Sanskrit mantras as well as
nonreligious words, such as “one.” He’s found that regardless of what the
practitioner repeats, the word or phrase has nearly the same effects:
relaxation and the ability to better cope with life’s unexpected stressors.



On Tue, Mar 3, 2020, 12:36 AM Nagaraj Paturi <nagarajpaturi at gmail.com>

> https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.274061
> On Tue, Mar 3, 2020, 12:18 AM Nagaraj Paturi <nagarajpaturi at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> https://archive.org/stream/JapaYogaAComprehensiveTreatiseOnMantraSastraBySwamiSivananda/Japa_Yoga__A_Comprehensive_Treatise_on_Mantra-Sastra__By_Swami_Sivananda_djvu.txt
>> On Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 7:37 PM Matthew Kapstein via INDOLOGY <
>> indology at list.indology.info> wrote:
>>> Dear Mr. Haas,
>>> As I recall, Robert Yelle's book *Explaining Mantras *includes some
>>> discussion of repetition. It is possible, too, that some of the articles in
>>> Alper's Understanding Mantras at least touch upon the topic. Others on the
>>> list may be able to offer some guidance to relevant sections in the
>>> writings of Frits Staal and others who have worked on Vedic recitation and
>>> related ritual theory.
>>> good luck,
>>> Matthew Kapstein
>>> Directeur d'études, émérite
>>> Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris
>>> Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies,
>>> The University of Chicago
>>> ------------------------------
>>> *From:* INDOLOGY <indology-bounces at list.indology.info> on behalf of
>>> Dominik Haas via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info>
>>> *Sent:* Sunday, March 1, 2020 6:21 AM
>>> *To:* indology at list.indology.info <indology at list.indology.info>
>>> *Subject:* [INDOLOGY] Repetitive recitation of a mantra
>>> Dear colleagues,
>>> in my exploration of the history of the Gāyatrī mantra, I naturally have
>>> to deal with the practice of *repetitive recitation** of a mantra*. I
>>> would like to collect as much literature as possible about the origins and
>>> the development of this specific practice in South Asian religions (of
>>> course there's a lot about japa and mantras in general, and repeated
>>> recitation is ubiquitous, but I am looking for more focused studies).
>>> Serious studies about the psychological effects of repeating a single text
>>> would also be interesting.
>>> Any references (and/or PDFs) would be very welcome, on or off-list!
>>> Best regards,
>>> Dominik A. Haas
>>> __________________
>>> *Dominik A. Haas, BA MA*
>>> PhD Candidate, University of Vienna
>>> Dissertation proposal: doi.org/10.25365/phaidra.103
>>> dominik.haas at univie.ac.at
>>> ORCID: 0000-0002-8505-6112 <https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8505-6112>
>>> univie.academia.edu/DominikHaas
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> INDOLOGY mailing list
>>> INDOLOGY at list.indology.info
>>> indology-owner at list.indology.info (messages to the list's managing
>>> committee)
>>> http://listinfo.indology.info (where you can change your list options
>>> or unsubscribe)
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://list.indology.info/pipermail/indology_list.indology.info/attachments/20200303/8eab37dd/attachment.html>

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list