Mantras are traditionally Sanskrit and sacred in origin. But there’s no reason why we can’t make up our own when the occasion calls for it.
Mantras involve repeating a phrase over and over. We do this anyway, don’t we, when we’re stressing over something.
Mantras are cool because they take the rumination habit and turn it on itself. Is your mind blabbing on? Well hello, let me give you something to really blab about, says Mantra. Repeat this phase, or these syllables, over and over!
Thus, ‘om namah shivaya’ over and over (‘I honour my deeper self’); “Om Mani Padme Hum’ instead of ‘forgot-the-catfood/ she hates me/ I’m going to win/ oh god I stuffed up’, etc.
Sometimes I like to make up my own mantra when something is bothering or stressing me. It helps turn the rumination habit on its head.
A home-made mantra could be as simple as:
Breathe in – I’m okay..
Breathe out- so cut yourself some slack.
THE IREST PROGRAM
I’ve recently been studying the iRest program, a mindfulness program geared around accessing emotional awareness via body sensation. iRest has inspired me to add a further dimension to my home-grown mantras, that of ‘opposites’. Founder Richard Miller brings 45 years of experience in yoga/meditation/ gestalt/Buddhism/psychology to the iRest protocol. He has drawn on the ‘opposites’ segment of Yoga Nidra and taken if much further. Much, much further.
The idea is that when the brain holds two contradictory/opposite ideas in mind simultaneously, it short-circuits and allows a third option to emerge. Miller explains the process through the example of wave mechanics.
WAVE MECANICS & OPPOSITE FORCES
When two pebbles of equal size are dropped into a pond from the same height and at the same time, their ripples overlap and double in power. However, when the two pebbles are dropped one after the other, their waves are out of sync. When the out of sync waves converge, they cancel one another. The result: a calm surface of water.
When I do the Opposites practice, I find that my emotional state ‘resolves’ itself. Wholeness and peace emerge. Try it for yourself!
NEW MANTRAS FOR THE TOOL KIT: USING THE POWER OF OPPOSITES
Here are some examples of mantras using the Opposites principle.
Breathe IN- I’m so busy!
Breathe OUT- I feel free.
Breathe IN- Feeling unrested
Breathe OUT- Feeling rested
Breathe IN- I’m feeling uncared for
Breathe OUT- I’m feeling cared for
Breathe IN- It’s too hard
Breathe OUT- It’s too easy
Breathe IN- What if???
Breathe OUT- Who cares!
Breathe IN- I’m inadequate
Breathe OUT- I’m totally and completely adequate
Breathe IN- (make up your own!)
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