Although there are many different meditation techniques, methods, and theories, the end goal of meditation is always the same: to quiet the mind and establish a closer connection with your true Self (or soul or God). There are different schools of thought on what exactly the most efficient ways to do that are.
As a refresher, the value of quieting your mind is that you are consciously (even if it’s for a short while) redirecting energy away from negative thoughts or beliefs that are not serving you. When you withdraw your focus and energy from negative thoughts, you immediately shift into a more positive, higher energy field. When you stop thought, you stop negative thought, and your energy frequency naturally rises.
This has beneficial effects on both the body (lower blood pressure, deeper breathing, relaxation of muscles, healing in cells, lower anxiety levels) and the mind (increased clarity, focus, and concentration, as well as better sleep and improved mood).
So how do you get to a place of non-thought?? And once you’re there, how do you maintain it? This is something the yogis of thousands of years ago struggled with, and out of which the knowledge of mantras was slowly developed.
“Mantra” is a Sanskrit word comprised of the root “man” which means mind and “tra,” or instrument. So mantra literally translates to “instrument of the mind.” Mantras were a tool that the yogis used to get from a place of scattered thought and outward focus, to stillness and inner focus. Turns out, focusing on a single thought or phrase that is neutral in nature (meaning it doesn’t bring up strong emotions or connections to anything in the physical world), is an excellent way to begin to focus and tone the mind.
Repeating a mantra especially during the beginning of a period of meditation allows you to focus on a single thought or idea, which naturally prevents distraction from other random ideas, thoughts, and emotions that may keep cropping up. Also, it is infinitely easier to focus on a single thought and slowly slip into a state of thoughtlessness than to try to get to a place of non-thought immediately.
Mantras act as an effective tool to help you focus, calm, and train your mind so that you can free yourself from outward concerns, and connect to an inward space of infinite stillness, silence, and love.