Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Take a Break: Try a mantra/Music and Valentines

Mantras can be a word, such as Om, a phrase, sound or syllable, which can be silently said, sung-George Harrison’s The Hare Krishna Mantra, or recited. According to the dictionary, the mantra is used as an object of concentration and embodying some aspect of spiritual power. A Sanskrit word, “mantrana” means advice or suggestion.

Mantras are sounds, and like any other sound, they impact how we think and feel. Used for thousands of years, they can help regulate thinking. They can be things we say for a variety of reasons: to help us cope, remind us to change how we’re thinking at a particular time, disrupt negative thoughts, get the day off to a good start or help to relax for a deep sleep at night.

Research studies indicate that using mantras can improve well being among stressed healthcare workers. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing (2006; 37 [5], 218-24) and Vedic Mantras have been found to reduce stress and increase effectiveness in the workplace.  The Sa Ta Na Ma mantra appears to help in preventing memory loss.

Below are several mantras to consider:

Om mani padme hum (ohm mah nee pahd may hum): In Buddhism this is the most common mantra. According to Gen Rinproche, in his book Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones: "The mantra Om Mani Pädme Hum is easy to say yet quite powerful, because it contains the essence of the entire teaching. When you say the first syllable Om it is blessed to help you achieve perfection in the practice of generosity, Ma helps perfect the practice of pure ethics, and Ni helps achieve perfection in the practice of tolerance and patience. Päd, the fourth syllable, helps to achieve perfection of perseverance, Me helps achieve perfection in the practice of concentration, and the final sixth syllable Hum helps achieve perfection in the practice of wisdom.

Sa Ta Na Ma: This chant/meditation was studied in 15 people aged 52 to 77 who had memory problems. The participants learned the Kirtan Kriya technique. It involves the repetition of four sounds -- SA, TA, NA, MA. While saying the sounds, the person meditating also touches their thumb to their index finger, and middle, fourth, and fifth fingers. They perform it out loud for two minutes, in a whisper for two minutes, in silence for four minutes, a whisper for two more minutes, and out loud for two minutes. When compared to controls, who listened to two Mozart violin concertos each day for 12 minutes, the study found that  cerebral blood flow was increased in the meditating group in the frontal lobe and parietal lobes, both areas involved in retrieving memories.

Make up your own mantras, such as I am healthy, or try other Mantras by going Mantrapedia: List of mantras from A to z. 

Since Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, enjoy watching Great Performances Paul McCartney’s Live Kisses, which is the PBS documentary about his Grammy winning album “Kisses on the Album.” 

Finally, there are lots of Valentine’s activities in previous “Take a breaks.”
-       Valentine’s Day Activities Paper and Scissors (chains, cobweb, German Paper cutting) 

A very Happy Valentine’s Day tomorrow!

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