Autumn Tornado

I am here.  I am now.  I am enough.

This is what I silently chant to myself when I meditate, particularly when I’m having trouble quieting my mind. As I work to lengthen my breath and feel my lungs filling and emptying, these simple words help me push past the buzz of thoughts and anchor me to the moment. They offer clarity, which in turn, leads to focus and perspective. They are a lifeline at the moment.

Several people commented on my meditation posts about how hard they find it to sit still and empty their mind. I struggle with this too, but I find when I repeat this mantra to myself and focus on believing the words and feelings that go with it, then I come closer to that place of replenishment.

At its root mantra is the repetition of sound. Think of a bubbling creek, or the soft rustle of leaves in the summer. Consider how they soothe and calm. It is it’s own form of meditation. A natural mantra reaching into our soul, enticing and casting a spell once we allow ourselves to really stop and listen. Mantra in your mind acts the very same way. It lulls you, settling and offer respite. Just as nature is powerful, so is the simple repetition of words.

According to Wildmind, a website on meditation that I recently found and enjoy:

The word mantra is said to come from a root meaning “that which protects the mind.” In Buddhist meditation, many things can be used as objects of concentration — as “mind protectors.”

I have never been the kind of person who “tells myself things” so that I can believe them. I don’t make a habit of looking myself in the mirror and peppering compliments that seem false and cheap. When it comes to mind associations I am a bit of skeptic. Admittedly I never really tried until I started using this personal mantra. What works for me is the power it has to quiet the mental chatter. In repeating the same nine words, gradually with more confidence, I physically force all other thoughts from my mind.

Whatever the reason, it works. And the message I’m reinforcing is important. So overall a win-win.

I’m curious. If you were to be honest with yourself, what do you think you would recite in your mind? If you really think about it, what would help you to focus and leave all other thoughts behind?

This post is part of my ongoing series for 2011 to pick a new area each month to fully immerse myself for personal growth of understanding.  January is mediation.

Image: ‘Autumn Tornado‘ via a Creative Commons license.



19 thoughts on “Mantra

  1. Lindsey says:

    For more than 10 years the words I repeat to myself in meditation or in quiet moments at yoga (and more of the latter than the former, to be honest) are “breathing in, I feel safe, breathing out, I feel calm.” When Dani Shapiro wrote of the Buddhist mantras she used when she was beginning to meditate they included something similar, which was one of the (many) places I felt touched by Devotion.
    So, still, and always, my mantra is about safety and calm.

  2. Hmm … don’t know what serve to work best to calm by mind, but I think “I am enough” would be the most important thing for my psyche to absorb.

  3. Amber says:

    I love this, Christine. I am so glad that is working for you.

    If I could tell myself something and actually make my brain believe it, I would tell myself I’m not a horrible parent and I can make it through these long months of solo parenting alone. But after weeks like this, that is truly hard to believe.

  4. When I do yoga, I work on the words “peace, love, calm.” I imagine that I would repeat those terms, but I do think I’d send myself love in a mediation, similar to what you’re doing. We women don’t tend to sing our own praises enough, and acknowledging that we are good people, stripping away the minor details that don’t matter, it is easier to be inside our bodies.

    Glad you are doing this!

  5. “I don’t make a habit of looking myself in the mirror and peppering compliments that seem false and cheap.”

    Oh my gosh, me neither. I was once (okay, twice) a “sales consultant” with a popular direct sales company. At one of our meetings my higher-up told us all to put post-it notes on the mirror with sayings like “You are AWESOME!” and “I see a winner!”

    I couldn’t even listen to her SAY that without cringing.

    To me, though, mantras feel different. Mine are often a single word that I focus on. While doing a challenging yoga pose, it might be “strong. strong. strong.” While in a more contemplative moment, maybe “joy” or “peace.”

    It doesn’t feel cheap, cheesy, corny or embarrassing at all…and that’s how I know it’s right for me.

  6. wesleyjeanne says:

    Recently I’ve started reading The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, by Christopher Germer (Brene Brown quotes him in her book). I found it very comforting when he says that we should not punish ourselves or berate ourselves when our minds wander as we try to meditate because minds wander–that’s what they do. He even suggested that at times even people who have meditated for years have wandering minds.
    One of his suggestions was to have an anchor–like a mantra–to focus on when we do find our minds wandering. After years of feeling like I “can’t” meditate because I can’t seem to control my mind, I found his words and suggestions very helpful.
    Your post reminds me of that as well.

  7. I have a couple of mantras depending on if I need it for sitting still or to keep moving. My sitting still one is BREATHE IN BREATHE OUT (but less yelling).

    Have you done a walking meditation.? When I took a mindfulness course, that was my favorite. Probably because I’m action-oriented. But walking VERY VERY slow and breathing was kind of awesome. And very different from the action I THINK that I should take.

  8. “Mind protectors.” I like the way that sounds.

    The one thing that used to really empty my mind was a long walk. But that isn’t in the cards. The next best thing for me – a great book. One in which I can lose myself. It works wonders. It’s hard to find the time though – and concentration needed to re-enter. But for me, I think reading is a sort of emptying and entry elsewhere. But I struggle to get even that.

    Following all this with interest…

  9. Leslie says:

    “We will get there.”
    Home construction, a family plan, organization.
    “We will get there.”
    So I have a mantra…now I need to meditate. I’ve never been good at clearing my mind while sitting still. The closest I’ve gotten to it, I think, was during my labor with Jack – the rhythmic breathing, the focusing on work rather than pain.

  10. ShannonL says:

    I truly don’t know what I’d say to myself. I think it’s because I am usually pretty good and clearing my mind as long as there’s nothing deeply troubling me.

    I have Rosacea, and it’s very common for people with my condition to blush easily and often. I hate it. That is something that I say to myself often “Stop blushing, Shannon. You are a calm, confident woman. There is no reason for this. ” Sooooo annoying when that happens.

    Maybe my mantra would be something like “I can do it”. Whatever I’m trying to do at the time or whatever I set my mind to. A little extra positive thinking, I guess. Interesting stuff, Christine! 🙂

  11. Chantal says:

    At this moment I don’t meditate. I don’t even do anything closely resembling it. I don’t exercise, I don’t go for walks… I think this is something I need to remedy soon.

    That being said, before I became pregnant I was jogging. I had been jogging for about a year. When I jog I would often talk to myself, encourage myself to keep going. “You can do this” was usually my Mantra. I would say it over and over again. And always I did do it.

  12. I am really drawn to the idea of “mind protectors.” Because really, our minds need protection, often from ourselves and our harsh, critical thoughts! I have used “peace, love” while breathing in and out. But somehow this seems corny, and I feel a bit embarrassed. That’s probably because I am kind of a control freak, though, so letting go and slowing down feel very challenging to me. But I do love the idea of it, and reading about meditation reminds me that I would probably gain so much from the process. (Maybe that’s what scares me.)

  13. I wish I could meditate without acting ADD. I should try harder!

  14. Cathy says:

    Whenever I am overcome with self-doubt and my confidence is waning, I say, “Believe in yourself and the magic will happen.” It was some silly magnet on a cubicle cabinet left behind by the former occupant, but I really, really like. I can definitely understand how repeating something can help clear you mind.

  15. I have not practiced meditation much and, when I have, I don’t think I’ve been very successful (all those typical and atypical thoughts bubbling up that I have trouble releasing without judgment).

    But, lately, in moments of stress, I have been focusing on the words “Let it go.” A grudge, a tightening of a muscle, an insecurity. Let it go. Certainly not a process that comes easily to me, but one that I’m working on.

  16. Mine would be “Let it go. Enjoy life. Enjoy the moments.” This would help keep me focused and in the moment.

  17. Stacia says:

    My mom has a mantra. It’s “Just click ‘OK’,” as in metaphorically clicking away whatever text-box error pops up on your life’s desktop. At first I laughed, but now I find myself saying it, too.

  18. Rudri says:

    I attended my first Buddhist meditation last week. It was trying and difficult, but also peaceful. At times I was battling my inner voice and other times I concentrated on my breath, the exhaling and inhaling. When I look back and reflect, I found myself repeating, “Om,” over and over again. Nice that you could get to a quiet place Christine.

  19. Pam @writewrds says:

    For some reason, rather than being still and quiet I need to move somewhat frenetically to regroup, calm down and get centred.
    This is my meditation. It amounts to a brain switch.
    Although the ideal is to get out the door and breathe, what works is to jump up and down on an old mini trampoline.
    The message to myself: It’s okay. I’m okay.

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