Skip to content

Coming Back to Center: Using a Mantra to De-Stress

It is thought that meditation promotes self-awareness of thoughts and bodily sensations and improves the ability to observe one’s thoughts in a non-judgmental manner. This may contribute to decreased stress, improved emotional reactivity and heightened cognitive functioning.

Though there are several styles of meditation, most fall into one of two categories. Open meditation is a nondirected observation of experience, while focused meditation directs the meditator with a focal point, such as the breath or a mantra.

In this study, 247 undergraduate university students practice four styles of meditation, one each week. Two of the styles, mantra and vipassana meditation, were preferred by a significant number of students. My guess is that these two styles provide a sense of structure for individuals who might desire a meditation practice but feel intimidated by the thought of sitting with no agenda at all.

The word mantra, according to the Chopra Center, is made up of two words: man (mind) and tra (instrument). It’s defined as a powerful sound or vibration that can assist the user to reach a deep, meditative state.

Try practicing mantra meditation daily. If you find your stress level rising too quickly at work, practice reverting to the mantra for a few moments in the bathroom or while documenting. See if it can help diffuse your stress and bring you back to center so that you can take on the rest of your day with a greater sense of calm.

Mantras to Try

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Great tips Meaghan, well explained. When I think of Yoga and meditation my recollection is simply the yoga pose and nothing more. Now somehow I get a grasp on what meditation really means and how it can certainly be used as “ de-stress-zilizer”. Thanks.

    April 17, 2014
  2. Thanks, for the tips.. I guess being in the nursing can be very stressful and dragging for all.. meditation should be very helpful.

    March 27, 2014
    • Meaghan O'Keeffe, RN, BSN #

      Hi Emi, I encourage you to give it a try. You have nothing to lose!

      April 2, 2014
  3. Meaghan O'Keeffe, RN, BSN #

    Jerome, thank you for such a thorough and thoughtful comment. Great inspiration for the power one can have to change their experience through perception. Your patients are very lucky to have you!

    March 26, 2014
  4. Hey Meaghan – Thanks so much for the reminder to return to the present and to our center.

    What’s great about the repetition of mantra is that it brings us back to a point of attention, just like using the breath as the focus of attention in mindfulness meditation.

    To me, what’s nice with this kind of exercise is that you don’t even have to use a “mantra,” you can actually use something that reminds you of the present or even of your present environment.

    Recently I was taking care of a very demanding patient and his wife. They were over the top in their constant use of the call-light and continued complaints that they weren’t getting the care that they expected. (it seemed like they thought that they were my only patient!)

    At one point during the day, after dashing my way through the first 6 hours of the shift without a break, this challenging patient’s call light went on…again! I was about to utter some choice words (mentally of course :) ) when I was inspired to remind myself that this man and his wife were really suffering.

    I remembered that the patient and his wife had been married for over 60 years, and that the wife’s insistence on “perfect care” was because she was suffering the imminent decline of her husband’s health. The patient was suffering because he was losing control of his health and was probably going to die soon.

    This remembrance of their suffering brought within me a wellspring of compassion and understanding, very different from my previous thoughts of not having had a break and the nuisance that these folks were. All of a sudden, their humanity was made real. And with this realization, I began a “mantra” in my mind, “they’re suffering, they’re in pain.”

    I actually took a moment to say this mantra to myself very quietly, and then to continue the mantra in my mind as I walked to the patient’s room. The “me” who walked into the room was a very different “me” from the one who first heard the call light. I showed up present, aware, and compassionate to meet their needs. And it paid off…

    The wife said that she had called to let me know how much she appreciated the care that I was providing to her husband and how much it had transformed her experience of his hospitalization. Wow!!

    Recalling ourselves to the present, through the use of mantra or mindfully watching the breath can make a huge difference in our lives, and in the lives of those who we serves.

    Thanks for the reminder Meaghan.

    Grateful to the work you that you do.

    Jerome Stone

    March 24, 2014