I am a big fan of mantras. Specifically the ones I make up. This one came to me the other day: “This is really happening.” Like a lot of people I am afflicted with a streak of escapism/denial. When a situation is occurring that I would rather not be in (painful, embarrassing, terrifying, etc.) I float away in my mind to somewhere else, or spin up the machine of “I hate this, I wish I didn’t have to deal with this.” That denial sets up a doubly bad situation where there is both an unpleasant situation and I am unable to successfully process, or deal with, it as I am occupied with running away.
The other day I was in an Aikido class at my dojo. The teacher for the evening Peter Ralls, is a fan of jumping jacks. I am not. They remind me of gym class in school when I was the fattest kid present and each jump made me horribly self-conscious in a negative way of my body and how it looked, reinforced of course by the laughter of the other children that would often ensue. They also hurt my knees, which would quickly feel like they were going to collapse at any moment. Even though I am much thinner now, and in much better physical condition with the knees Shiva gifts to most work horses, I immediately spun into all my negative associations when Peter started in with the jumping jacks. From nowhere the thought came into my mind that “this is really happening.” Instantly my mind came back to where I actually was and what was actually happening: I was moving my body under my own control, no one was laughing, my knees were going into the best position out of the habit I had instilled in my body over years of patient dedicated practice, everyone present was focused on their own endeavors and (shock of all shocks) I enjoyed moving.
I’ve been experimenting with this little mantra since then and it’s been quite useful, I hope you find it useful as well. I would also love to hear from you and hear some of your personal mantras in the comments below. Maybe we could write a book about them or something. 😉