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Mantras vs. Affirmations: What’s the Difference?
While we often think the key to health and happiness is wholesome eating and exercise, there are other forms of nourishing self-care that cultivate a positive state of being.
Mantras and positive affirmations are two unique ways to cultivate self-care and nourish your mind.
In the Eastern world, it is believed that words – whether thought or stated out loud – can affect our physical vibration and over time impact our perception or circumstances in a positive way. The approach – which has been used in Buddhism for thousands of years – is to repeat “mantras” in accordance with meditation.
Mantras are words, sounds, or invocations either in Sanskrit or any other language, that aid the individual in focusing concentration and deepening meditation while also uniting him or her with a higher power. Mantras are associated with mysticism and spirituality and aim to liberate the mind from thought in order to facilitate inner peace.
Examples of mantras include single words such as “Om,” “love,” or “peace,” or Sanskrit phrases such as “Om Namah Shivaya” which can be interpreted as bowing to our true highest selves.
On the other hand, a “positive affirmation” is a term often used interchangeably with mantras; however, the two have vastly different origins and applications. Positive affirmations were developed in the 1970’s by neuroscientists, incorporating a modern understanding of psychotherapy and linguistics in order to consciously rewire thought patterns towards more desired outcomes. Affirmations can be stated anytime and tend to be complete sentences addressing something we wish to have or be as if we already have it in the present moment.
Examples of positive affirmations include phrases such as “I am whole and perfect the way I am,” “I am overflowing with abundance,” or “I am radiating with love and compassion.”
While you’re likely to hear anecdotal evidence on whether one or both of these methods are effective at creating the positive results we seek, it is interesting to note that some research has been done in the realm of both mantras and affirmations, most notably indicating that results vary depending on the individual and how much he or she actually believes them and what resonates.
When they are effective, both mantras and positive affirmations can:
- Help with problem-solving
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Increase the likelihood of personal success
- Increase positive emotions
- Improve relationships
- Increase confidence
- Create inner clarity
It’s true these methods work better for some than others, reinforcing our core concept of bio-individuality which states that we are all unique and should honor what feels most nourishing on an individual level. However, at Integrative Nutrition, we encourage you to give both mantras and affirmations a try and see if they impact how you feel or approach your daily life. If they help you feel better in some way then keep practicing!
More and more people are tuning into the idea of meditation as a form of medicine. It is important to explore a variety of ways to help ourselves and the people around us feel happier and healthier.
What has been your experience with mantras or affirmations? Share in the comments below.