I’ve always liked the idea of mantras. Depending on where you look, the definition of mantra can be very spiritual or pretty prosaic – it’s a sacred utterance or it’s a statement or word repeated frequently. For me, it’s often a resolution – it’s a phrase that reminds me of who I am, and how I want to live my day-to-day life. Often, it’s a quote from someone I admire, which I look to for guidance with the little things in life.
My mantra changes, depending on what’s happening in my life – what I’m working on, the specific challenges I’m facing, etc. Different mantras have fit best at different points in my life.
This is one of my current mantras. I have roots, and my life and choices and personality are rooted in the things in my life that are constant – children, my family, New York, writing, books, and running. Yet I also want to go with the flow of my life, the flow of the universe – my roots keep me grounded, and letting go helps me to flow.
2. Let go and let it be. (Or, let go and let God.)
My instinct is usually to act – I want to fix a problem, I want to DO SOMETHING. If I’m sad, I want to go buy something or eat something to make myself feel better. If I’m overwhelmed, I want to go perform a task that gives me the illusion of control. I am realizing that most of the time, if I am searching for the next right thing to do, the answer is frequently this: do nothing. Wait, be still, and let it be.
3. Do one thing at a time, fully.
I have a tendency to multi-task. When I was younger, I watched TV while I did my homework; now, I listen to a podcast while I’m making the bed. I don’t think that this is always a bad thing to do. However, I dislike the feeling of needing to be distracted – which, many times, is what I’m doing. To be fully engaged in a mundane task means my thoughts might wander or that I’d have to be okay with silence – and I can’t always allow that.
Throughout the past two or three years, I’ve grown a lot in my ability to be mindful. I watch less TV – I allow for quiet time, and even relish it occasionally – and I’ve had a semi-regular meditation practice. Sometimes, when I feel scattered or overwhelmed, like my mind, my body, and my soul are flying all over the place, in every direction, I utilize this mantra – do one thing at a time, fully – and it helps me to get my feet back on the ground.
3. Live in the moment.
This year, it’s been especially challenging to observe this mantra, or resolution, whatever you want to call it. I get caught up in worrying about or anticipating the future, rather than staying in the moment. This is a mantra in the same family as do one thing at a time, fully, but with a subtle distinction. This is about reacting to what’s happening right now, in my life. It doesn’t mean I don’t think about the future, but I keep myself in the here and now.
The first time I read these words – The best way of life is to be, simply be – was on a Yogi tea bag. 🙂
I took the little tag and I taped it to my computer at work. Again, this mantra is related to another – this mantra reminds me to wait, to be still, and not to always feel compelled to react or fix things. I try to remind myself to keep things simple and to take one day (one hour, one minute, one second) at a time.