Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Your words become your actions...

I learned about mantras in religion class during high school...somewhere between lion-poses in yoga and "feelings journals" all of which, at the time, seemed like a really easy "A" and generally useless.  I would like to wholeheartedly admit that my high school self was SO wrong about that (and many other things I'm sure).

One...the yoga thing.
It makes you breathe.  It asks you to think about breathing, about stretching, and about pushing yourself.  It doesn't ask you what you want to be in 5 minutes, or where you want to be in 20 years.  It asks you to be YOU RIGHT NOW, and to leave the rest for later.  It's a great exercise (literally and figuratively) in focus and control.  It was, perhaps, the only time I was ever kicked out of class, for laughing at what I now know as cat pose...and I'm happy to say, I was wrong about yoga.

Feelings journals.
I have mine...somewhere in my boxes of hoarded life-treasures is a binder full of all of the life-planning and "who am I" and "what do I want" exercises in that class.  I want to read it again when I find it.  Even though I'm absolutely sure that I did not know what I wanted, I wrote about it.  I wrote about what I knew and what I thought was good and I brainstormed and worked through the question(s) that my 17-18 year old self couldn't actually answer.  This teaches us to open our minds and free up our thoughts to be expressed in whatever way possible.

I remember "streams of consciousness."  I still write them today when I need an escape.  It's where you literally sit with a pen and paper (or computer if you so desire) and you just write/type whatever comes to your mind.  It can be words, phrases, lyrics...ANYTHING that comes to your brain.  It will be completely random and make zero sense on any sort of literary level.  It's a science experiment, a social experiment, and a psychological experiment in one.  It is freedom of thought and from judgement.  Sometimes when I read mine, I remember exactly what I was feeling and why I wrote certain things, and other times I think...WHAT?!  Where did THAT thought come from?  It's brilliant.  It's fun to re-read and it's perfectly fine to use it simply to clear your system of all the thoughts/worries/opinions that are stuck in there and stressing you out.

Finally, Mantras.
We sat in our tiny classroom, on the floor (during this particular part of the school-year because it was somehow more liberating (I totally agree, by the way and would absolutely love to sit on a floor without shoes all day to work--Google knows what's up)).  We listened to meditation CDs.  Sometimes it was spoken, sometimes it was music.  Most of the time I just didn't get it.  Some of my classmates slept...we're talking literally snoring (and I got kicked out for laughing in yoga - at least I was conscious)!  Then, we discussed empowerment through thought.  Here's one of those things I just wasn't sure about then...and I am CONVINCED of now.  You need something that you believe in.  You need something that makes you feel centered and calms your mind.  You need something that refocuses your breathing and your thoughts and allows you to function when you feel like you are spiraling.  Mantras.  Short phrases that may or may not be a complete sentence.  Inspiration for YOU.  It doesn't really matter if they make sense to anyone else.

Anna Nalick's song "Just Breathe" comes to mind here, mostly because I know that is actually a fairly common mantra.  Sometimes that one works for me when I really need to cool it but it doesn't quite refocus my energy, it just helps me to regain control of it (thank you, yoga).  I really like "You are exactly where you need to be right this moment.  What you are feeling or thinking has purpose.  You can use it to get to where you are going."  Or some iteration of this.  It may help you, it may not.  You're welcome to make your own version or to create something completely different that works for you.

I challenge you to find your mantra.  Write a "feelings journal" or stream of consciousness when you need to relieve that brain pressure.  Sit down and stretch for 5 minutes, or 20 minutes, or an hour if you can and just breathe and focus on stretching further.

If you want some more info on mantras, see a recent article I read, here.  If you want to share YOUR mantra, comment below.  You never know who you could be helping by sharing!

In case you missed the words of wisdom this week on the blog or via twitter, the blog title was inspired by thinking of mantras in this way.  Your thoughts are a chain reaction for everything you become.  Make them positive:

-Lao Tzu


Nick2k said...

i really like that song by Nalick. i need to find my mantra...

Meg McGuire said...

You'll find it, Nick! One thing that helped me is "what would I say to someone else when I'm feeling _________" (insert your most common/difficult moment here). Saying it to myself was a really helpful way to find my way in mantra-world. Let me know what you come up with!