Over the years I have witnessed students new and old that may be uncomfortable or at times adamantly adverse about the use of Mantras and resisted changing their minds. Once learned the brain prefers to stay with established neural networks because it uses less energy. So, new experiences naturally get people uncomfortable.
However, recent neuroscience research demonstrates if we see a pleasurable outcome or benefit from moving through the resistance or comfortableness of pursuing something new or different that rattles our comfort zone, we will usually explore it.
Here's a compelling reason to add Mantras to one's Yoga Practice. Neuroscience has validated the benefit of them.
A 2011 study Neurohemodynamic correlates of ‘OM’ chanting: A pilot functional magnetic resonance imaging study validates the use of the commonly used mantra "OM". It quiets our brain's Default Mode Network.
The DMN when left to wander can ruminate on negative thoughts, since the brain has a natural negative bias that generate Thalamic activity. The thalamus does not care if the stimulus is coming from the outside world or if it is from our own thoughts (thinking about your past, wondering about our future), it can stimulate our reactions and especially our stress reactions; and most of our stress can come from our own thoughts; especially our negative thoughts.
Repeating simple mantra "OM" turns down this network, and neuroscience has validated the calming effect of mantras.
The use of "OM", produced deactivation of thalami (A) and limbic structures - anterior cingulum (B), hippocampi (C), insula (D) and parahippocampi (E);
Brain regions with significant deactivation during ‘OM’ condition in comparison with “REST” condition
|Left anterior cingulate gyrus||-02||45||-02||10.2||<0.001|
|Right anterior cingulate gyrus||12||49||-01||9.8||<0.001|
|Left orbitofrontal cortex||-28||29||-08||6.6||<0.001|
|Right orbitofrontal cortex||30||29||-08||7.3||<0.001|
|Left parahippocampal gyrus||-30||-20||-21||5.1||<0.001|
|Right parahippocampal gyrus||32||-28||-22||5.0||<0.001|
**X, Y, Z Talairach coordinates of peak activation *Family-wise error corrected ‘P’ value
Want to see if it works for you? Try this simple mantra "OM"
Practice OM at the beginning and end of your NeuroYoga session or breathing session in order to settle into and calm your mind (or at any other times you want its powerful influence). Focus solely on the experience of the Mantra, the breath and sensations in your body. Observe and feel the vibration that it produces.
It can help calm our overly active neural networks and quite our Default Mode Networks.
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