This week the Women Who Wonder (WWW) spent time creating a personal mantra or two. It was a creative exercise that produced some interesting results. For those of you not part of the gathering, I thought you might enjoy considering what your mantra might be.
First question to ask is what is a mantra? It can be a guideline for living your life, or adjusting to conflict or overcoming challenges. It is a short phrase that reflects your belief system or how you would like to respond to a situation. Professor John Norcross wrote “A sense of self-efficacy is needed for success and those who fail to achieve often feel defeated. Low self-efficacy is linked to negative self-talk. Not only do they feel like a loser but there is a strong correlation with lack of follow through.” Maddison Krown says it another way: “Your self-concept is your destiny.”
While mantras are frequently used in meditation to quiet the mind, they are useful in our everyday lives to encourage us, to ground us, to reinforce a sense of self confidence. You may formulate more than one and find that you change your mantras over time to coincide with a particular situation. The key ingredients to your mantras are that they are short and truly meaningful to you.
I will share two of mine as examples. The first is one that I use when I might be feeling stressed or anxious. “All shall be well, all shall be well.” I repeat that slowly and prayerfully in a rhythm that synchronizes with my breathing. There is no rushing a mantra for it to be effective. Pastorally I also find this useful for individuals particularly when I am praying with them prior to surgery. I suggest they say it as a way to calm any fears.
My second mantra is “There is always Plan B.” I use that when it appears things might not work out as I had anticipated. It is another way to say life will resolve itself, just maybe not as had been planned. There is also a creative component to this Plan B mantra as I have learned to maintain a curiosity about exactly how things will work out. Often there is a sense of delight that Plan B was actually ‘better’ than Plan A!
A final thought for you. When you are in church and listening to the lectionary readings, be alert to any phrase of scripture that might grab you as especially meaningful. Such short verses are a wonderful resource for mantras.
So, I invite you to consider adopting your own mantras. This should be an exercise that is not forced or heavy. Enter into it lightly. Enjoy it. I would love to hear what you come up with!