man·tra[man-truh, mahn-, muhn-]
Hinduism. a word or formula, as from the Veda, chanted or sung as an incantation or prayer.
an often repeated word, formula, or phrase, often a truism: If I hear the “less is more” mantra one more time, I'll scream.
For those of you who don't know, I'm a huge believer in the positive effects of yoga. Yoga is the one and only thing that has made a significant impact on my anxiety disorder. (Well, other than medication, which comes with nasty side effects that I believe kind of defeat the purpose. I want to feel "normal", I don't want to replace one problem with a series of other problems. It just doesn't make sense. But that's just me!) Anyway, if I don't get my yoga in every day, I start to feel my anxiety creeping back. I start to feel off-balance and sluggish. I know it sounds weird. But I guess once you start doing something that is good for you on a regular basis and it becomes a part of your daily routine, it really does get you down when you miss it.
The parts of yoga that have always made perfect sense to me and worked for me are the concepts of balancing, breathing and stretching, which I wrote about in a previous post (that you can read here.)
But certain aspects of yoga are just not my thing. Chanting a mantra is one of those things. Hearing your own voice in an otherwise empty room or house is just weird. You should try it right now. Weird, huh?! My cat and dog were the only living creatures in the house with me the first time I tried it and believe me, you could tell by the looks on their faces (and my dog's goofy, little head tilt) that it was weird! I knew it would sound goofy, and my animals were my proof!!
So, anyway, I know the chanting thing is a really effective way to stay focused on the present and/or to get a desired effect from your practice. And as much as my mind wanders from one idea to the next, I really needed some help with that. So, I decided to try it again. But this time, just not out loud. So, I chose some words that would be "my words". They are:
Calm, Strong, Happy, Healthy
Most of the time, I repeat all four words in a row, over and over again, one for each breath. If I'm really having a hard time focusing, I'll just use one of the words (whichever is the most relevant for that particular time), repeating it with each breath. If I find my mind wandering (and it inevitably does), I just get back to my words. See how helpful words can be?!
For those of you who don't practice yoga-sorry! I'm probably freaking you out with this post. I know it sounds a little weird. But, if I can help just one person work through their problems with anxiety, then it's worth embarrassing myself. As I told my doctor, when my anxiety is not in check, it is exhausting to be me. So, if you are one of the many people out there who suffer from this crazy, crappy disorder, I can totally relate.
So, I'll leave you today with something to think about. Even if you don't practice yoga, if you could choose a set of words that make you feel better by just saying them or thinking about them, what would they be?
|Balance, original acrylic painting by Juli Albers-Schuster, available in my Etsy shop|