How Mantras Make You Strong

mantras are prayers

When you have a mantra you can always calm down and concentrate

Mantras have been around for a long time and exist in many different cultures. The mantra definition is a sound or utterance that helps you focus, especially during meditation. But you can use the sounds or words as you would in prayers.

Have you ever heard anyone say Om? Ooommm, or something like it. The benefits of meditation are many, but you probably have experienced something like it in your own religion when you use prayers. You don’t have to be a buddhist to have a mantra and meditate. Meditation has its own aura but it’s not really so mysterious.

Even monks and nuns need their mantras

It may seem scary and unattainable to sit still even for a few minutes and concentrate on…nothing. Two ways that concentration is achieved is through breathing exercises and having a sacred utterance. Believe it or not, all prayers are a form of meditation. And they are sacred utterances. Your prayers focus your thinking and help you concentrate. Just like what you can get from this source. Your mantra can be anything. I like to say Sut Nam, which is Sanskrit for “truth is my essence.” But I also use regular prayers.

The word mantra can be broken down into two parts: “man,” which means mind, and “tra,” which means transport or vehicle.

Buddhism, Stoicism, and Taoism all teach adherents to repeat particular chants or mantras to steady the mind. Only recently, though, have researchers begun to look into the power of this practice. A 2015 study published in the journal Brain Behavior described research in which participants were asked to lie down, first with no instruction, and then, after a few minutes, with the instruction to silently repeat a simple mantra to themselves. Throughout the test, their brain activity was observed with a functional MRI machine.

While they were repeating the mantras, participants had a marked decrease in brain activity, in what neuroscientists call the default mode network—the part of the brain that is involved in planning and self-focused thinking. When they weren’t repeating the mantra, however, participants’ default mode network had normal levels of activity. In layperson’s terms: repeating a mantra occupies the brain enough so that it doesn’t get caught up in obsessing, planning, and wandering. This, the researchers write, accounts for a significant “calming effect.”

Here are some mantras of outdoor enthusiasts and sports people from Outside Outline:

“Commit and Figure It Out”

“This was first said to me by Rick Ridgeway, and I believe Doug Tompkins said it to him at some point. It applies to everything.” —Jimmy Chin, mountaineer and photographer 

“Be Good”

“Those are the words my dad wrote in his letters home from Vietnam. He died over there when I was three, so these words are really the only words I have from him as a father, but they’ve served me well. These words have guided me throughout my life.” —, mountain-bike and adventure racer

“Focus, Focus, Focus”

“I don’t set out with a mantra in mind, they tend to come to me in the moment when I need them most. Last year [in Colorado], at Leadville, when my knee was feeling weak and unstable—it was only about 80 percent recovered from surgery—it was as simple as repeating this, knowing every step could be my last if I let myself daydream.” —Rob Krar, ultramarathon runner

“You Get to Do This”

“I come back to this mantra when I’m dealing with stress, especially prior to or following races.” —Amelia Boone, Spartan Race champion

“Mood Follows Action”

“Applicable in sport and life. Rather than waiting to ‘feel like’ doing something, the surest way to shift out of your discomfort or resistance is to lean into action. It’s in the doing that we alter our perspective and emotional state—not the other way around.” —Rich Roll, ultra-endurance athlete and podcast host

“You Are Strong, You Are Capable, You Are Strong, You Are Capable”

“I was struggling very badly at the beginning of my 2018 Antarctica expedition, so I started to say this to myself first thing every morning as my alarm went off and I needed to face another long, icy day pulling my sled. Sometimes, with how much struggle I was going through, it was hard to believe my own words, but it got me out of bed and moving every morning.” —Colin O’Brady, adventure athlete and explorer

“This Too Shall Pass”

“I use it both in sport and in life when I’m hurting, as a reminder that the pain is temporary. Whether it’s during a period of intentional overreaching in my training, an episode of depression, or feelings of anxiety when I’m in a crowded, confined space, it’s a reminder that the uncomfortable feelings will fade away with time.” —Sarah True, Olympian and professional triathlete

“Don’t Wish It Away” 

“It’s particularly powerful because some of my races can be 8-plus hours, so you can just be wishing for it to be over from pure discomfort or, if you’re out front, from just wanting to win. But this is a bad headspace to be in. You’ve got be in the race, not in thoughts about wanting it to be over.” —Sonya Looney, mountain-bike racer

“It Means No Worries for the Rest of Your Days. It’s a Problem-Free Philosophy.”

“I’ve never had a real mantra, but occasionally I get snippets of songs stuck in my head on repeat. I can specifically remember having the refrain from ‘Hakuna Matata’ stuck in my head on a scary aid pitch once upon a time.” —Alex Honnold, climber

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