Mantras & Affirmations – What is the difference and how can I use them for myself?
Short sentences that have a big impact - affirmations and mantras are particularly found in meditation and yoga as well as in spiritual teachings. But even if you don't have much to do with these areas, you can use mantras and affirmations to adopt a positive attitude and strengthen your mindset.
What's the point of that for me?
We think over 60,000 different thoughts every day – crazy, right? What's even more amazing is the fact that a lot of these thoughts repeat themselves day after day. This means that we rarely really think completely “new” thoughts.
Many people see their typical thoughts and thought patterns as part of their personality. Our deepest basic convictions and beliefs play a special role. These are thoughts that we have about ourselves and the world and that we assume to be true.
How do we come to be convinced of the correctness of these thoughts?
Through repetition. We have had many of our beliefs since childhood. They were – to put it dramatically – “drilled” into us again and again. Especially as a child, you are very receptive to things that “authority figures” (such as our parents) say and embody. We believe that certain statements are true because we hear them over and over again and gradually internalize them.
Unfortunately, these core beliefs often include limiting and negative beliefs. As described above, we take on some of this from our parents. But negative beliefs can also develop through certain experiences we have in our childhood and youth.
Examples of negative beliefs can be:
- “I am only a lovable person when I perform well”
- “I’m not smart enough”
- “You can’t make money with artistic professions”
- “It matters what others think of me”
- “The world is a dangerous place”
- “Money is a bad thing”
- "I am not good enough"
You probably recognize yourself in one or another belief, right?
It is completely normal for each of us to have these or similar core beliefs. The problem is that these very thoughts often prevent us from growing, taking risks or reaching our full potential. In everyday life, these thoughts paralyze us and take away our ease. Our self-esteem can also suffer greatly.
The good news is that we can take action against these negative and limiting beliefs. Because our brain (and therefore our world of thoughts) is flexible and can change. We can contribute to this by “reprogramming” our brains. So feed it with new, positive thoughts, which will eventually become our core beliefs.
And this is where affirmations and mantras come into play. Because they then form, so to speak, the new software snippets for our built-in hard drive. The key here is repetition:
If we want to learn something, we have to repeat it (to put it simply) until it eventually sticks. Building positive beliefs is a bit like learning vocabulary: it takes perseverance and patience, but at some point the words and their associated meanings become second nature.
But what exactly is meant by an “affirmation” and what is meant by a “mantra”? And what is the difference?
Photo by Anthony DELANOIX on Unsplash
What is a mantra?
A mantra is a sacred syllable, a word or a whole verse. Originally, people of the Indian, Tibetan and Mongolian peoples were engaged in mantras. Seers of the time discovered the power of sounds: certain rhythms and sounds release positive energies. These were recorded and passed on in Sanskrit, the ancient Indian language.
The most well-known mantra is still “ Om ”. It is intended to describe the sound of the universe and represents the purest form of energy. In addition to the mantra “Om”, there are of course a lot of other mantras that are used for different goals.
Mantras are spoken, sung or mentally recited – loudly or quietly. Many people come into contact with mantras for the first time during a yoga class or meditation session. At the beginning, at the end or again and again during the class, a selected mantra is sung or spoken together.
Repeating mantras serves to focus the mind or thoughts and release positive mental energies. The aim is not to “understand” or translate the Sanskrit words on a mental level, but rather to ignite the effect on an energetic level. Because the repetition of sounds in the same rhythm creates vibrations that change our and the spatial energy field. This can calm the mind, give strength and put the body in a state of relaxation.
What is an Affirmation?
An affirmation is a “ self-affirming sentence ” or a positive belief (e.g. “I believe in myself”). An affirmation works similarly to a mantra, but in contrast works more on a mental level than on a sound level.
Affirmations are intended to positively influence or change a person's thinking. You focus on positive thoughts. What you want to think or achieve can be put into words with the help of an affirmation and used as a source of strength or to calm you down. Like a good word of encouragement directed at yourself.
Here too, as you can probably imagine, repetition is an important component. The principle of repeating an affirmation is also called “affirming”. You will find out exactly how this works and what you should pay attention to in the next section.
Affirming effectively – How to find the right affirmation
Telling yourself how great you are or how good you are at something feels quite strange at first for most people. That's no wonder, because in our society it's rather frowned upon to celebrate yourself or give compliments (it's a shame, right?!).
What I want to say: It's completely normal if you initially feel strange when affirming and you internally resist it. Take it slowly and take your time finding an affirmation that suits you.
Affirmations only work if you manage to really believe in the truth of the statement. The message should resonate with you and feel consistent when you read it and say it. The affirmation “I am the smartest person in the world” can only have its effect if you really believe that it is true. If this statement is too exaggerated or seems too much for you, then start in smaller steps, for example with a sentence like “I believe in myself and my abilities,” “I trust my feelings,” or “I am calm and focused.”
Tips for formulating your affirmation
When formulating your affirmation, you should make sure that you formulate the sentence in the present tense and in the first person , e.g. “I am calm” instead of “I become calm” or “ Calm returns ”.
In addition, your affirmation should be based on a positive choice of words . Our minds do not cope well with negations and denials. That's why you should always create positive images in your head. For example, don't say “I'm not ugly ” but “I'm beautiful” or “I'm good the way I am”.
Speaking of images: Our minds think in images, which is why it can be helpful to use symbolic language . Use metaphors and comparisons to clarify the message of the affirmation, e.g. “I am calm as a mountain lake” or “I let myself drift like a leaf in the wind”.
In addition, the shorter the better. We can remember short sentences better and reach our subconscious more quickly. So avoid creating very long sentences and try to get your message straight to the point.
Here are some examples of sentence fragments you can use:
- I am…
- I may…
- It is good for me…
- I enjoy it...
- I look forward to it...
- I can allow myself...
- ...more and more every day...
- … always more and more …
(By the way, you can find a variety of example affirmations and other formulations on the Internet.)
Now it's time to get down to business
Once you have found an affirmation that suits you, it's time to get down to the practical side: repeating it . Over and over again. Because that is the be-all and end-all of affirming. Write your affirmation on a piece of paper and stick it somewhere you will see it every day. Or set it as your screen background.
Then consciously read it to yourself three times in a row every morning or evening or repeat the affirmation several times in your head. It is important that you take time to consciously process the sentence.
In order for an affirmation to work properly, you should stick with it and repeat the affirmation every day for (at least) a week to a month. Hopefully, little by little, the sentence will pass into your subconscious and integrate itself positively into your thoughts. ☺️✨
If you would like to find out more about the topics of mindfulness & spirituality, healthy eating, family & pregnancy or sustainability, take a look here .