Happy New Year! I hope you rang it in with more degrees in your weather—we are freezing cold, here! My newest mantra: “It’s worse on Hoth.”
Then again, it could mean that a larger part of us are staying home these days, which is perfect, since it’s the time of the year when resolutions are made and haven’t yet had the time to break them. Sounds melodramatic, but resolutions are pretty hard to maintain. I, for one, appreciate any and every tool that helps me stay on track for as long as possible… And get back on track when I fall off the bandwagon.
Although I am always open to discovering new tools to help in my personal development, there are two that I will never give up on: journaling and mantras. I decided to kick off this year of blogging by discussing mantras because they are such an easy tool to immediately implement and start using—might as well stay on track on those resolutions as long as we can!
What is a Mantra?
Mantras are verbal reminders that help us stay on track, inspirational saying that hit the spot and encourage us to continue trying to achieve a particular goal. I can be as short as one word, or as long as an entire poem—the most important thing is that it is be something that you connect profoundly with and can recall easily and quickly.
You can write your own mantras or take them from both obvious and non-obvious places: prayers, Holy Writings, poems, famous sayings, celebrity quotes, lyrics, and catchphrases. Whatever works for you, quite honestly; there is no wrong mantra if it inspires you and helps you stay the course. I’ve started sharing some of my own on my Instagram account; you’ll notice that they tend to be very short. I used to have longer mantras, but in the last year, I have turned to short ones because of a certain little one we have welcomed into our family.
What a Mantra Can Do for You
A mantra can help you, amongst others, remember that all long journeys are taken one step at a time. They help remind you that it requires perseverance to constantly repeat simple things until you have achieved your goal.
As a new mother, one of my mantras was “You’re doing your best”—every time I was assailed by doubt, I would take a deep breath, hold me little one tight, say my mantra, then list all the research my husband and I had done to get to the parenting decisions we had taken. As a blogger, one of my mantras is “Write what you love”—every time I start slipping and get caught in the monetizing game and can feel blogging become a chore rather than something that brings me joy, that’s the mantra I turn to.
Mantras can also be used to help you make some big changes in the way you live your life. A couple of years ago, a friend reached out to me about losing his temper. He would start screaming when he was upset and didn’t like that aspect of his personality. He chose a mantra—it was a very personal one, so he never told me what it was, which is why I am not able to share it with you—and when he would get upset, he would recite the mantra as many times as he could before erupting. At first, he would last a handful of seconds. But then, the seconds turned into minutes; and about a year and a half later, he realised that although he still got very upset, he hadn’t screamed in a couple of weeks. I reached out to him before writing this post, and, you guessed it: he hasn’t screamed once since then.
This is how mantras can become a lifeline which, one small step at a time, can take you out of a terrible storm.
How To Use Mantras
The first step is to come up with a simple mantra, easy to remember, quick to repeat, which represents the foundation of the work you are trying to achieve. And remember, you don’t have to share your mantra with anyone; there is no wrong mantra; and you can always change mantras if you find a better one.
The second step is to memorise it; I tend to suggest short mantras that are fairly easy to memorise it, but I know some people who are excellent at memorising and prefer long mantras. Again, whatever helps you best, and you can easily change mantras if you don’t like the length of the one you initially picked.
The third step is more of a reminder: the process of finding a mantra is part of the overarching goal you are trying to achieve. I read a lot about parents’ struggles with feeling inadequate, and my mantra was basically what healthcare professionals told me, what parenting authors would encourage, what bloggers would write, and, in either comment sections or online forums, what experienced parents would tell new ones. All that reading gives an incredible amount of weight to that handful of words, and brings me a lot of much-needed comfort.
Obvious Physical Reminders
The fourth step is to have physical reminders keeping you anchored to your mantra. These reminders are for those really difficult times when you are having an especially hard time hanging in there. You might want to have obvious reminders in private places that no one else has access to, and more subtle ones in places where you have less privacy.
Post Its make for great, easy, easily movable, and easily replicable, obvious physical reminders. They are fun and disposable, and perfect for those who like constant change. You can write out your mantra of the day, the week, or the month on them and stick them anywhere and everywhere: bedroom, bathroom, mirrors, kitchen, purse, agenda, journal, etc. You can also purchase ready-made inspirational ones on Things We Forget. If any of the mantras I share on Instagram inspire you, feel free to print them out (and I would love to see them in action, so upload them and tag me!) Another obvious reminder is perhaps a little old school and cliché, but writing with lipstick on a mirror makes for a mantra you will come across regularly.
A third obvious reminder is to invest in a beautiful print featuring a generic but insightful mantra that overlaps your own. I personally love Amada’s prints, amongst many others.
Subtle Physical Reminders
For lifelong struggles, tattoos with very personal meanings can be quite something. A little diamond to remember that you, too, are precious; a little bird to remind yourself that everyone can fly; something small, elegant, that will stay with you for a long time. For a less permanent subtle reminder, a small (or even large!) bracelet or ring can be both a potent reminder and a fashion statement. A red-stoned ring to remind you of the love that surrounds you; a green-toned bracelet to remind you to take care of yourself; a blue-coloured one to remind you to stay Zen; etc.
And what about a touchstone? Or, basically, a simple stone. You can use it ‘au naturel’, like this. You can also paint something elaborate, something cute on it, or even something meaningful. Whatever it looks like, the most important thing is to assign meaning the stone (or any other little object, for that matter), and you are set to go. Leave it in your pocket or put it on your desk, whatever helps you stick to your resolution. I know fidgety people who like to have a stone in their pocket to play with when they get agitated, and the act of playing with the stone calms them enough to remember their mantra.
Either alone or in combinations, these tricks can help stay in closer touch with one’s chosen mantra. If you are creative, more power to you: you can come up with many creative and beautiful ways to lengthen your mantra’s reach. But for those of us who are more limited, there are thankfully a lot of talented people increasingly available to us through such places as Etsy.
Do you have any mantras you use? How do you remember them?
Base on a post first published here.