Create a mantra.

I think I can, I think I can.

A mantra is an utterance, sound, or group of words believed to have psychological and spiritual influence. Some mantras are simply one word such as “om”. These mantras can help center someone during meditation. As your thoughts run wild you can bring yourself back to your mantra. As a lover of the English language and the power of words, my mantras ended up longer than most.

1. A Mantra for Calm

In times of high-stress thinking clearly becomes harder than usual. Feeling overwhelmed can cloud judgement and make someone flustered or anxious. In a crisis, a common cognitive distortion is “catastrophizing”. This is the irrational thought that tells us things are far worse than reality. A mantra I use to calm myself in times of high-stress or trauma is as follows:

“This is an experience. I’m here on earth to have experiences. Nothing is wrong. My fears may come true but the outcome will not destroy me. It may even be good. There is something here for me if I have the awareness to find it. I am loved, therefore I am safe.”
Deepak Chopra

2. A Mantra for Courage

When big changes are happening, it’s habitual to cling to the familiar. Letting go of the past or letting go of something we are losing can ignite fear. I used a mantra to help me release fear around the unfamiliar and embrace growth and courage.

“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”
Abraham Maslow

3. A Mantra for Control

We constantly try to adjust the outside world to feel comfortable in it. If there is a conflict that is making me uncomfortable I recite this calming mantra to make a distinction between what it is I can control and what I must let go of.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
The Serenity Prayer

4. A Mantra for Self-Love

Self-love is intertwined with the way we see and treat others. Holding others in compassion and kindness helps us hold ourselves in a similarly loving fashion. We are often our harshest critic. When I need to reinforce my feelings of self-love I repeat this mantra.

“May I love myself just as I am.
May I sense my worthiness and well-being.
May I trust in this world.
May I hold myself in compassion.
May I meet the suffering and ignorance of others with compassion.”
Jack Kornfield

5. A Mantra for Health

We often overlook the importance of our physical health. We stop nourishing our body, sleeping well, or exercising for things like work, staying out late, or saving time. When our bodies become burnt out and our immune system fails us we end up spending more time sick in bed. When I fail to make my health a priority I repeat this mantra.

“If you don’t make time to be well, you’ll have to make time to be sick.”
Dr. Robert Puff

6. A Mantra for Letting Go

At one point in my life I was holding on to an unhealthy relationship. I told my partner, “I feel like I’m holding on, and you’re dragging me through the mud” he replied “then don’t.” Turns out I’m not the first person to hold on too tightly to something that needs to be released. This simple mantra reminds me that letting go can save me from hard times.

Let go or be dragged
-Zen proverb

7. A Mantra for Mindfulness

Being present in the moment is the best advice for how to better live our lives. The fixation on the past and the worry over the future don’t exist in this moment. We can listen better, enjoy more, be aware of, and embrace our moment-to-moment experience. When I reach for my phone at the dinner table I think of this mantra.

“Be here now.”

Today’s Practice:

Think about five main states of emotion or dis-ease you commonly occupy. A few examples include anger, fear, loneliness, obsession, or uncertainty. Write down a mantra to calm and comfort you for each of these states. Keep these mantras in the “notes” app on your phone or on a slip of paper. When you feel yourself entering a state throughout the day, read and then reread your mantra.