Think about it: wouldn’t it be great if, when all your fear and anxiety comes flooding in, you were able to catch YOURSELF by the scruff of the neck, shut it down, and say, “Okay, STOP! This way of thinking is bringing on too much pain.” That is what mantras can do.
Our minds have been trained to panic when we’re frightened. The more you go through that reaction, the better you get at it. Soon, that’s your go-to way of acting in life: full of anxiety, ready to panic. The imagination runs wild, building all sorts of terrible outcomes (without any attachment to whether it’s realistic or not). In a way, it’s a habit that you have diligently nurtured, until it has become part of your personality. Practice makes perfect. It is really as simple as that.
But mantras are an amazing, easy antidote to fear. Mantra is very simply the repetition of a phrase that offers a positive affirming statement to a situation that is negatively affecting your life. It is your chance to turn it around, and train your brain in a direction that can heal you rather than hurt you.
Before self care, when I was in the throes of fear, I shut down all of my internal support. My fear got me alone and separated me from anything that could help me. I just had to suffer—until I found mantras. Mantras are a big part of the yoga that I practice, Kundalini. The mantras that we use are ancient and powerful words from Sanskrit and Gurmukhi. I love these mantras, and the effect that they have on me. My favorite is, “Ad Gurey Nameh, Jugad Gurey Nameh, Sat Gurey Nameh, Siti Guru Dev Nameh.” This mantra is a prayer for protection, and it roughly translates to: “I bow to the primal Guru, I bow to the truth that has existed throughout the ages, I bow to True Wisdom, I bow to the Great Divine Wisdom.” (Thanks to Spirit Voyage for that translation.)
There is much more to mantras than the Kundalini version. They can be words of everyday English. In fact, you are already probably pretty familiar with their usage even without realizing it. Sports teams are all about mantras. So are action heroes, major brands and social movements. “Mantra” is just a more spiritual term for a slogan, motto or catchphrase. Think of these:
- I’ll be back.
- Do your job.
- Yes we can.
- That’s the way it is.
- Go, fight, win.
- Change we can believe in.
- Make it work.
- Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.
- Make America great again.
To make mantras work for you, find a catchphrase you can use when your mind runs away with you. Say the words to yourself continually until your distress lessens. Make the phrase short, so you can remember it, and meaningful to you. Use it often. Remember, practice makes perfect, and this time we’re training the mind to meet fear with calmness instead of panic.