The science of affirmations

Mantras vs. Affirmations: What’s the Difference?

Ancient wisdom and contemporary psychology become one in the world of positive phrases. But when it comes to mantras vs. affirmations, which is best for you… and why?

February 5, 2024
5 min

Mantras vs. Affirmations

Mantras and affirmations are incredibly powerful tools for personal growth and development, filled with transformative potential. 

And, in the realm of spiritual and psychological wellness, both mantras and affirmations have captivated minds and captured hearts, offering pathways to a more empowered and fulfilled life.

But although they are often conflated, mantras and affirmations are profoundly distinct in origin and practice. 

Which is the best companion for your unique journey of self-improvement and personal betterment? 

Let’s unravel the nuances between mantras and affirmations, so you can decide for yourself. 

Mantras are a centuries-old practice for mindfulness, enlightenment, and emotional regulation.

What are mantras? 

Mantras are sacred and simple: sounds, words, or phrases steeped in vibrational energies. 

The practice of mantras is an ancient tradition rooted in Eastern traditions, going back hundreds of years. 

The word itself comes from the Sanskrit language, from the root words “man” (meaning mind) and “tra” (meaning tool). Thus, mantras are tools that can free your mind from negative or stressful thoughts.  

Examples of mantras

Mantras are derived from the most sacred of sounds, OM, which is believed to be the sound of creation, the sound of the Universe humming. 

When you chant the word “om,” you aren’t just meditating or transcending your surroundings, you are connecting to the collective energy of higher consciousness, bringing you a sense of inner peace and balance. 

From this original sound, more mantras have evolved. 

  • Traditional Buddhist or Hindu chants, passed down through the ages by those seeking enlightenment or Nirvana
  • Religious prayers or chants, which can be derived from any religion
  • Secular words or phrases focused on an emotion or feeling you’d like to achieve, such as “peace” or “love”

How to practice mantras

Mantras are often used in meditation, as a way to still your mind and guide you towards self-awareness and enlightenment. 

You can also use mantras any time you need to find your center and refocus your thoughts, with your chosen mantra gently guiding you. 

Setting up a mantra practice is simple. 

  1. Find a quiet spot, somewhere that you won’t be disturbed. 
  2. Wear loose, comfortable clothing that won’t distract you with itchy fabrics or tags and will allow you to sit, stand, or lie down in the position of your choice. 
  3. Get into a comfortable position. Many people prefer to practice mantras seated on a yoga mat, legs crossed in the lotus position, but you can sit on the couch, lie on your yoga mat, or choose whichever position feels natural to you. 
  4. Still your mind and relax your body. Soft instrumental music, nature sounds, and aromatherapy can all be helpful, 
  5. Draw your focus to your breathing and start chanting your mantra, either out loud or to yourself. 

And here’s a tip for rhythmic chanting: align your chants to your breathing. If it’s one word or a short mantra, you can repeat it every time you exhale. If it’s a longer mantra, try breaking it up so a part is repeated on your inhale and the rest on your exhale. This will regulate both your breathing and your chanting.

Affirmations are positive statements that reaffirm your worth, values, and the validity of your dreams.

What are affirmations?

To continue exploring mantras vs. affirmations, let’s enter the world of positive affirmations and compare. 

In contrast to mantras, affirmations are a much more modern practice, a product of contemporary positive psychology. 

Affirmations are concise, positive, and highly personal statements aimed at reshaping your thoughts and beliefs about yourself and your capabilities. 

Grounded in the philosophy that your mindset shapes your reality, affirmations harness the power of positive thinking to rewire your brain. 

When you consciously practice affirmations, you can: 

  • Manifest your aspirations
  • Raise your self-esteem
  • Fortify your mindset
  • Increase your resilience

Examples of affirmations

Affirmations generally begin with the words “I am” followed by a positive, affirming statement stated in the present tense. 

They can be in any category or area of your life. 

Here are some examples of powerful, inspiring affirmations. 

  • In relationships: I am worthy of infinite love. 
  • Under stress: I am calm and at peace. 
  • At work: I am recognized for my hard work and contributions. 
  • For financial freedom: I am a money magnet. 

You can choose just one affirmation to focus on or find several that are equally meaningful to you. 

How to practice affirmations

If you’ve never practiced affirmations before, you’re in luck! There’s an entire guide for practicing affirmations that will make it easy for you to establish a consistent, effective practice loaded with maximum benefits. 

Here are the main points to keep in mind. 

  1. Find the right spot, someplace private and quiet where you can allow yourself to relax. 
  2. Just like with practicing mantras, eliminate possible distractions by wearing comfortable clothing and getting into a comfortable position. 
  3. Choose affirmations that resonate with you and your aspirations. You can find affirmations that will apply to almost every area of your life in the I am app
  4. Relax your mind and body: release muscular tension and focus on your breathing. 
  5. Read and repeat your affirmations, either to yourself or out loud. 
  6. Think about each affirmation as you speak it. How does it apply to your current life? How would you feel if you embodied this affirmation? 

As with mantras, a consistent daily practice will help you reap the many physical, emotional, and mental benefits of affirmations. 

Mantras vs. affirmations: which is right for you?

Mantras vs. affirmations: how do you choose? 

Here’s the good news: you don’t have to! 

Both mantras and affirmations are valuable allies in your personal progression and development. And they can easily co-exist. 

However, trying to establish two new practices at once might feel overwhelming. You may find it easier to choose either mantras or affirmations, whichever resonates with you, and begin with that. 

Once you’ve established a consistent, regular routine, you can try adding the second practice. 

  • Begin your day with quiet meditation and mantras, then practice affirmations for gratitude at the end of the day. 
  • Practice affirmations for productivity before work, then end your evening with calming mantras. 
  • When an overwhelming, frustrating, or stressful experience or situation occurs, take a few minutes to quietly practice either mantras or affirmations. 

Final thoughts

Emotional wellness doesn’t need to be “mantra vs. affirmations.” It can be mantras AND affirmations. 

Both practices will help you feel, think, and act your best. 

Together, they can set you on the road to a lifestyle of positivity and peace. 

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