Two weeks into 2015 already! New Year resolutions are still a hot topic, and although many readers loved my posts about journaling, some mentioned they were looking for other tools available to them in their quest for self-improvement. I immediately thought of mantras (something I have already blogged about).
Not to sound too dramatic here, but life is a constant struggle to become better, and it’s just not sustainable to embark on a semi violent struggle with our insistent self, whacking it down like a mole. We have to develop the strength to carry on for the eighty or so years we are in this world, which can be drawn from an attitude combining contentment and striving; that is to say, by learning to accept who we are while doing our best to change for the better.
It might sound complicated, but it’s actually a simple process! It requires perseverance to constantly repeat simple things—which is where mantras can come in. For example, if you scream when upset, a mantra can help you at first delay the point at which you scream by a couple of seconds, then by a couple of minutes, and build it up to a couple of hours until the day, perhaps years later, when the desire to scream disappears. This is how mantras can become a lifeline which, one centimeter at a time, can take you out of a terrible storm.
One of my blogging resolutions for 2015, the result of an analysis of the last six years of blogging, was to temper conceptual talk with practicality. Mantras are great, but how can they be put into practice? The first step is to come up with a simple mantra, easy to remember, quick to repeat, which represents the foundation of the work you are trying to achieve. You can also use a well-know cliché, quote, or epitaph. Physical reminders of one’s mantra, both obvious and subtle, anchors it more firmly in our minds:
- Post Its! They are fun and disposable, and perfect for those who like constant change. Write out your mantra of the day, the week, or the month on them and stick them anywhere and everywhere: bedroom, bathroom, mirrors, kitchen, purse, agenda, journal, etc. You can also purchase ready-made inspirational ones on Things We Forget.
- A little old school and perhaps cliché, but writing with lipstick on a mirror makes for a mantra you will come across regularly.
- If you have a general theme but not a specific mantra, investing in a beautiful print featuring a generic but insightful mantra might come in handy. I personally love Amanda’s prints (featured in this post’s header).
- For life long struggles, tattoos with very personal meanings can be quite something. A little diamond to remember that you, too, are precious; a little bird to remind yourself that everyone can fly; something small, elegant, that will stay with you for a long time.
- A small (or even large!) bracelet or ring can be both a potent reminder and a fashion statement.
- A touchstone is, in this case, a fancy word for a stone. Yes, a simple stone. You can use it ‘au naturel’, like this. You can also paint something elaborate, something cute on it, or even something meaningful. Whatever it looks like, the most important thing is to associate the stone (or any other little object, for that matter) to your mantra, and you are set to go.
Either alone or in combinations, these tricks can help stay in closer touch with one’s chosen mantra. If you are creative, more power to you: you can come up with many creative and beautiful ways to lengthen your mantra’s reach. But for those of us who are more limited, there are thankfully a lot of talented people increasingly available to us through such places as Etsy. Good luck, and let me know how it goes!
Photo courtesy of Amanda Catherine Designs.