A mantra can be any phrase. It can be something you create for yourself, a wonderful expression or quote derived from someone else, it can even be a phrase in another language that you don’t actually understand.
Why would you use something you don’t understand? Well some people believe that these types of mantras have power in them - either in their content or their sound. I have certainly used them at times when I am having difficulty concentrating, but for me this is not my favourite type of meditation.
My favourite use of mantras is actually in everday life. At the moment my mantra is “one thing at a time is enough for me” - when I am rushing around, doing seven things at once, I remind myself that... “one thing at a time is enough for me”. The best book that I have read on mantras or affirmations is Susan Jeffers “Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway” - and she publishes a new affirmation on her website daily.
Mantras are a great example and a great use of the power of the mind. I’m going to include this exercise here as it taught me something very powerful, but it’s probably going to make you feel worse - so trust your instincts about whether to give it a go.
Go to your mirror. Look at yourself. Pick out three positive things about yourself. Maybe you like your eyes? Say, out loud to yourself ten times, “I have beautiful eyes.” and so on for the other two things. How do you feel?
Go to the mirror. Look at yourself. Pick out three negative things about yourself. And then say those out loud ten times. How do you feel?
When I did this exercise the positive things were okay, the negative things made me cry. This is what you are doing to yourself if you are constantly saying negative things in your head. If you replace those negative put downs with something positive then you are going to start feeling better straight away.
Some would say that by saying positive things about yourself you are creating that reality, either by your attitude or by encouraging certain actions. I just know that I love mantras.
You can say them in your head or out loud, shout them if you want, you can use them for meditation, times of stress, even in a disagreement. You can repeat them as needed, a dozen times, or a hundred times if you want. They are your tool to use as you will.
Here are a couple of my favourites:
“I love the world”
“I am enough”
“It’s all happening perfectly”
In my very darkest moments I have repeated longer prayers over and over again - these too are mantras, and they are wonderful. This is just what has worked for me.
Okay, final example. The use of mantras I think can improve any situation. And also being kinder and more positive with yourself I have found also helps you to realise when people are being unkind (even if they think it is for your own good), and asking them to be kinder with you.
Imagine two personal trainers:
“Come on you useless lump. You’ll never lose weight unless you really go for it. Come on, don’t slump now, shift those great, big legs. You’re useless, that was even worse than your last session - you’ll never amount to anything.”
“Come on, you can do it. You’re doing great, just four more. That’s it. I know you want to stop but you can push through this, just keep going, remember your legs are getting stronger all the time. Well done, you did great. Okay you didn’t do as much as last time, but that’s okay - that was a really good effort for today.”
All the thoughts that go around in your head when you are exercising are a mantra, and I know who I would rather train with!
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© Pearl Howie 2014. All rights reserved.