A few years ago when I was in the depths of depression I tried to shift my perspective through exercise, adventure and challenge with the 52 Exercises Quest.
But no stone was left unturned.
As well as doing a different exercise every week for a year and documenting it here on Get In the Hot Spot I also got serious about mindfulness and meditation.
I read a slew of books about mindfulness including 10 Books That Will Change Your Life, 5000 Words and Five Books on Mindfulness and Great Reads! The Power of Now: Review and Quotes.
You can read about my first experiences with mindfulness in 52 Exercises: #20 Beach Walking and Mindfulness for Beginners and 52 Exercises #23: Mindfulness Body Scan for a Whinging Pom.
As well as learning How to Learn to Meditate, How to do Nothing and How to Tell People the Truth About Yourself I also found out about the Second Brain.
Everything helped but I want to share one simple practice that made a big difference.
Creating a mantra or mini mediation was something I read about in a few books but I was really inspired to put it into action by reading Bhudhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. His writing is as simple and beautiful as his life.
Mantras and Mini Meditations
A mantra can help you be in the now and tap into the behavior or mood you’d like to have more of.
I think of some mantras as positive poems because they’re definitely not meaningless chants. It’s not just repeating the mantra that relaxes me but also the strong message that sets the scene for how I’d like my day to unfold.
Here are a few of Thich Nhat Hanh’s short mantras to give you an idea. They have a beautiful poetic quality which is why I call them poems.
“Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in.”
Breathing in, I am aware of my body. Breathing out, I am aware of my body.”
“Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment
I know this is a wonderful moment.”
I started with a mantra based on a mantra I found in a book and have slowly adapted it to suit me. Doubtless my mantra will evolve over time but I like coming back to the familiar message.
“May I be filled with loving kindness.
May I be calm and focused.
May I be healthy and vibrant.
May I be filled with the joy of being alive.”
How to use a mantra or positive poem
What I love about using a mantra as a catalyst for mindfulness or for meditation practice is:
- It’s quick, simple and easy to use a mantra – just choose a few words or sentences of your own then say them aloud or in your head with feeling.
- It’s flexible – you can use any mantra in any way that works for you. If you only have a few seconds you still have time to take one breathe with a mantra like “breathing in I know that I’m breathing in.” If you have longer you can focus on your mantra for your entire meditation practice or part of it. I meditate for 10 minutes most days and usually use the mantra for the last few minutes.
- Mantras works – although it might seem silly, corny or forced to use a mantra the difference it makes to my sense of wellbeing and behaviour is profound. My mantra has definitely helped me set intentions and stick with them more than I would have alone.
To get started with your mantra
- Just breathe and say the mantra aloud or in your head. Visualise or speak your mantra slowly, making a conscious effort to breathe slowly and deepen each breath. That’s all you need to do and it will become second nature with time.
- Any time you feel stressed, rushed or anxious you can create some space in your life by taking time to breathe and consider your mantra.
That’s it! I’ll leave you now to dream up your first mantra or poem.
The shorter and simpler your mantra is the better to begin with. Here’s another beautiful mantra from Thich Nhat Hanh who deserves the final word on mantras:
Present moment, wonderful moment.”
Try it now. Take a moment to read that mantra slowly and breathe deeply. It will only take a few moments but I can guarantee you will feel more relaxed afterwards.
Now I’ve shared my mantra I’d love to know if use a mantra to create calm, for meditation or to set your daily intentions? What’s your mantra?
For more tips on mindfulness and meditation don’t miss:
- 10 Books That Will Change Your Life
- 5000 Words and Five Books on Mindfulness
- Great Reads! The Power of Now: Review and Quotes
- 52 Exercises: #20 Beach Walking and Mindfulness for Beginners
- 52 Exercises #23: Mindfulness Body Scan for a Whinging Pom
- How to Learn to Meditate
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How inspiring! I love the mantra you’ve created for yourself, Annabel. I’m also profoundly inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh. Here’s to more loving kindness, calm, vibrancy, and joy!
Here here! And I’ve just realised your name sounds a bit like mantra :)
Such a great way to find your centre … I’ll have to try it soon!
You should! Mantras are perfect to use when travelling too – they can fill many a dull moment and change your mindset in an instant.
More a prayer comforts me…
Your will, Your time, Father God, Lord Jesus
Love reading those words that comfort you and the idea that words alone can be comforting.
Great way to boost yourself. Thanks for sharing your Mantra. I’ll try it once and will tell you that it works for me or not?
More than once would probably be better ;)
Hi Annabel, mine is “thy will not my will be done.” Excellent when swimming. Frees me from notions that I am in charge!
This is a super post, simple straight foreward, revealing and fulfilling. I love positive poems, they are no empty words, they are personal ‘anthemns’, they can make you feel better, if you let your soul take over, and sing the words, while your mind ‘see’ the words, come alive and lead you down the road, you must follow, to El Dorado. There’s no limit, to what you can achieve, when you fill your mind constantly, with words that are breathing.
Love the idea of singing and seeing the words!
Breathing the most powerful tools to keep us healthy. In Hinduism, we call it “Prana” i.e. live. If we do fast and slow breathings ( Pranyam), we can overcome mental stress and anxiety. One should practice breathing exercise in a quiet place and close to nature to get max benefits.
This is something I’ve tried in yoga classes and do want to practice more. I’m trying to use the basics regularly though – just one deep breath can make everything feel different.