By Malissa Schwamm, Yoga Manager
With the busy holiday season just weeks away and the turn of another calendar year just beyond that, our minds are catapulted into turbo mode, racing from one incomplete thought to another, leaving many of us feeling frazzled, restless and in a state of disarray. Instead of feeling out of control, wouldn’t you rather experience a state of calm, peacefulness with whatever situation arises at home, work and with others?
Simple breathing exercises combined with a mantra, or a tool of thought, can support efforts toward experiencing a deeper state of inner peace. The key to achieving a more grounded state is to carve out a few minutes each day for “sacred pause.” Think of it as a healthy habit, time for stilling and quieting the mind. For some, the most difficult part of stopping throughout the day is the result of ongoing distractions. One technique which works for many is to step outdoors. Autumn is an ideal time to draw from Mother Nature’s calming energy, the warm Colorado sun and the crisp cool air which helps us feel more awake and positive. Finding a physical space that frees you from distraction is the first step.
Now that you’ve conquered distraction, let’s talk about how to use mantra as an object of focus for taming the monkey mind, bringing it back to a calm and centered state of being.
“A mantra replaces 10,000 different thoughts by one thought – a thought that gives peace and awareness. It allows you to collect your scattered attention, which is spread thin all over the place, and unify it, thus empowering it,” says the author of the meditation blog, Live and Dare.
There are many types of mantras used for quieting the fluctuations of the mind and guiding our awareness inward. Mantras are typically recited aloud or to yourself raising the frequency or vibration of your being with each repetition. The end result is a deeper mind/body connection, a greater appreciation for the present moment, and a calmer more focused state of existence. The following are three types of mantras that I find most effective and easy to execute.
The first is a personal mantra, a motivating, positive phrase or affirmative statement that you create which resonates and brings peace. Journaling is an excellent way to build your own personal mantra, and capturing soul-inspired words, thoughts and intentions will surely produce something inspiring. Here are a couple of my own personal mantras that are effective in helping shift my awareness to a more grounded, tranquil state.
“I’ve got nowhere to go. I’ve got no place to be, beyond this sacred space deep within me.”
“I ebb, I flow, I change, I grow.”
Next, a breath mantra is achieved by simply forming a phrase or phrases which unite with each inhale and exhale. Find a steady, even pace with your breath. Breathe deeply and slowly from the abdomen. Stay attentive to the present. Don’t allow the mind to control the pace of the breath. Instead, allow the breath, its evenness and depth, to still the pace of the mind. Consider the breath your beacon for bringing the mind home when it begins to wander. Here is an example of a breath mantra:
Breathe in “I am,” Exhale “happy”
Breathe in “I am,” Exhale “content”
Breathe in “I am,” Exhale “accepting”
Breathe in “I am,” Exhale “fearless”
Breathe in “I am,” Exhale “compassionate”
Breathe in “I am,” Exhale “enough”
The third is an invocational mantra or a prayer, combined with sound, breath and intention. One of my favorites is an ancient Sanskrit invocation, “Lokah Samastah Sikhino Bhavantu.” This beautiful mantra translates to, “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to the freedom for all.” This mantra is universal and reminds us that together we can make a positive impact on all of creation.
So, as you approach seasons of gratitude, joy and new beginnings, carve out just a few minutes each day to pause, reflect and breathe more fully into whatever arises. With the addition of a daily sacred pause, you will begin to notice a shift toward inner peace. Breathe consciously. Relax, feel, watch and allow.