Jacuzzi for the Mind
Posted May 1, 2012
Dr. Jill Bormann’s research on chanting the “Hare Rama” mantra as a therapeutic tool is increasingly attracting the attention of health professionals and media sources (e.g., Click Here). In the 1990s, as part of my doctoral thesis, Dr. Neil Abell and I conducted quantitative studies on the effects of the Maha Mantra on mental health indicators, such as life satisfaction, stress and depression. My dissertation is entitled Effects of the Hare Krsna Maha Mantra on Stress, Depression, and the Three Gunas. Dr. Bormann contacted me several years ago because, amongst research on mantras, she was particularly impressed with the Maha Mantra studies published by Wolf and Abell. She referenced our writings in her work, and actually during a phone conversation with me she expressed that she would like to replicate the Maha Mantra studies. Parts of my dissertation and some articles on the Maha Mantra studies that have been published in scholarly social science journals are available at www.yedaveda.net. Below is an article I published in a magazine for the general public a few years ago, that relates to the Hare Krsna Maha Mantra and cites Dr. Bormann.
Jacuzzi for the Mind: The Sound of Transformative Communication
The morning after a 3-day transformative communication course I conducted in Brooklyn, I encountered a woman who had just completed the seminar. She was excited and had an experience she was eager to share with me. In the spiritual community where she lived she had taken a vow to chant daily a prescribed number of mantras on beads. She exclaimed, “This morning I realized that I don’t have to chant my rounds! I don’t have to chant my rounds!” Her exhilaration filled the air with a sense of liberation. Seeing me puzzled as to why she was happy to give up her vow, she went on, “I get to chant my rounds! I get to chant my rounds!” She then explained how that morning she had begun to finger her beads and chant a few mantras. For the first time in her decades of experience tears flowed from her eyes while chanting. For the first time her attitude wasn’t “I have to chant my rounds.”
Authentic mantra chanting and high-level communication practices are two complementary vehicles through which we can utilize sound vibration to realize our spiritual identity and connect with the innermost stratum of the living soul.
A genuine mantra is a potent transformational vibration. “Mantra” means spiritual sound vibration that extricates the mind from material entanglement. Jill Bormann has conducted research on mantra meditation with various populations including military veterans. She describes meditative time with a mantra as a “Jacuzzi for the mind. It’s something you can use to focus and calm yourself at a moment’s notice, …it doesn’t require money, and it’s non-toxic… a person just needs to make it a part of their lives.” My personal favorite mantra for meditation is one of India’s most beloved, the Maha Mantra- Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare. Studies have shown that this 16-word mantra reduces stress and depression and increases qualities such as balance, fulfillment, and sense of life purpose.
In our programs we focus on transformation through communication. Awareness of how we use sound to influence our consciousness and environment is a powerful approach to personal and interpersonal development. In the beginning was the word. Just as the divine creates with sound, we can productively examine what we generate in our life with our sounds.
For example, to what extent do we build roadblocks to effective communication through responses that convey messages of invalidation, disempowerment, or self-absorption? This might take the form of unnecessarily advising or warning, shallow praise, avoidance of vital issues, or prematurely giving solutions. Effective listening is essential for the creation of the sacred space that is crucial for life-enriching relationships. Such listening focuses on what the other person is saying- not what we’re saying to ourselves about what the other is saying. In our expression we can consider the degree to which we communicate from fear, neediness, and insecurity, as opposed to purpose, joy and inspiration. Through three days of intense immersion in transformative communication the mantra yogini shifted her consciousness from “I have to…”- burdensome, obligatory, and mechanical- to “I get to…”- vibrant, inspired, and fresh.
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