Mantras for Anxiety: Types, Benefits and More

Mantras for anxiety focus on alleviating 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. Mantra meditation practitioners

Mantras for anxiety focus on alleviating 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.

Mantra meditation practitioners believe these words have spiritual or magical powers to relieve distress and promote spiritual enlightenment. The concept of mantras comes from Buddhist and Hindu traditions. Most traditional mantras are in Sanskrit and use lengthened vowels to support the chant.

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 phrases.

A number of studies suggest that calming mantras can help relieve anxiety and other mental health issues, such as depression. Many studies allow practitioners to choose a personal mantra consistent 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, potential benefits, and how effective they are in helping with mental health issues.

Mantras are short phrases or words that a person chants or repeats to themselves, 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 them.

The concept of mantra comes 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.

As Eastern practices moved to the West, many Western practitioners adopted Sanskrit mantras. Some also now use English mantras or mantras that draw from Christian traditions or other spiritual traditions.

Mantras offer several benefits, including:

  • a focal point for meditation
  • a soothing and affirmative message
  • a distraction from anxiety
  • 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 behind them are important. On the contrary, researchers generally find that repeating calming phrases during meditation is helpful.

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

A Randomized Controlled Trial 2021 evaluated the effects of 6 months of mantra meditation in 60 people with depression compared to progressive muscle relaxation in 63 people with depression. At 6 months, the mantra meditation participants showed clinically relevant reductions in symptoms of depression, particularly mood symptoms.

Mantras pull out Hindu and Buddhist traditions, each with their own 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 infuse them with more power.

Some other types of mantras include:

  • Mantras from other religions: For example, a Christian might recite the Ave Maria.
  • Short and personally meaningful sentences: A person can develop personally reassuring mantras.
  • Unique words: A person who does not speak Sanskrit can choose single-word sentences in their own language. Words containing vowel strings are useful for singing.

Effective anxiety mantras should reflect how a person wants to feel and their personal beliefs. They must be short enough to facilitate their repetition.

Some options to consider include:

One Word Mantras

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

  • calm
  • ease
  • appease
  • free
  • breathe
  • peace

While reciting these simple words, inhale deeply before saying the word, then exhale slowly while drawing the vowels.

soothing phrases

Soothing phrases can help a person repeat a message of comfort. People can choose the phrases they find most calming and helpful, for example:

  • I choose calm.
  • I am safe.
  • Anxiety is a liar.
  • There is nothing to do.
  • There is no danger.
  • I feel the fear and I persist.
  • Fear is not dangerous.
  • Calm comes over me.

Affirmative sentences

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

  • Fear makes me stronger.
  • I take up this challenge.
  • It is temporary.
  • Fear does not define me.
  • Courage means acting out of fear.
  • I will learn 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 move on, especially past suicidal thoughts, can be helpful.

Examples include:

  • I will not choose a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
  • There is joy to be found, even now.
  • I embrace the little joys. (A person might list one or two things here, such as a beloved child or a beautiful flower.)
  • Feeling sad is part of life. I am still worthy.
  • It is temporary.
  • Depression is playing tricks on me.
  • Don’t listen to the lies of depression.
  • I choose happiness.
  • Happiness is still possible.

General purpose mental health meditations offer the assurance that there is life and joy on the other side of a temporary crisis. Users can try one of the following solutions:

  • It will also pass.
  • This is a temporary issue.
  • It won’t matter in 10 years.
  • Try again, fail again, and fail better.
  • Success often requires failure.
  • I have everything it takes to thrive.
  • I am worthy.
  • I deserve to feel love.

Some common Sanskrit mantras include:

  • Om: A unique sound that some traditions consider to be the sound of the universe.
  • Om Namah Shivaya: A mantra meaning “I bow down to Shiva”.
  • Om Mani Padme Hum: A mantra which translates as “The jewel is in the lotus”.
  • Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo: A mantra that translates to “I bow to the creative wisdom and divine master within.”
  • Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih: A mantra that some practitioners interpret as “Peace be peace, peace, peace”.

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

Another example of cultural appropriation could be repeating a Sanskrit word without understanding its meaning or context or using the Mala 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 calm an anxious mind, focus a person’s attention on 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 consistent with their personal and religious beliefs.

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