Do you have a personal mantra that guides you through the twists, turns and intersections of life?
If not, may be it’s time to find one.
As you know, life may throw at you all sorts of hurdles, may be even on a daily basis.
But if your actions are governed by your personal mantra, you can jump over the hurdles like a pro and keep going in the direction of your purpose.
What is a personal mantra?
In the tradition of saints of India, a mantra is a sound, that is given by a Guru to each newly initiated student for him to meditate upon.
It is the sound, in fact the only sound that he will make or hear during his hours of meditation and contemplation. Through contemplation on the vibration of the sound day after day, he dives deeper into his self, and ultimately finds his higher consciousness.
In a modern day scenario, for those of us who are not renunciate Sanyasis, a personal mantra can be a phrase, a sentence or even a paragraph, that we can learn by heart and the essence of which we can apply in our daily lives.
What purpose does it serve?
Personal mantras are rooted in principles.
And principles help in making choices.
The problem with decisions
In our path of action, we come across choices all too often, and we are forced to decide among them. Most of the time, we might not have the information to make the right choice nor any idea about the consequences of our choice. Those can be learned only in hindsight.
What do we do in such situations? Most people do not make a choice and wait for a time till they feel like they are ready to make the choice. Or they let things be, and let the situation decide a choice for them.
This is the beginning of slumber. That day will never come when you are totally ready for the choice.
Your failures are mostly the result of the decisions you didn’t make than ones you made.
Slumber and sloth are friends of indecision, for indecision paves way for their mastery over a person.
It is in situations like these that your personal mantra can come to help.
As I said earlier, a mantra is rooted in a principle. It is something that you feel is right. It makes sense to you.
Depending on a principle to make your decision is the most time tested and apt way of daily personal decision making.
Yes, there are enough analysts and analysis methods out there to help you make a huge business decision. But when it comes to daily personal decisions, you’ll neither have the time for analysis, nor the information in most cases.
Holding on to a principle you think is right is one way of cruising through most of the decisions that you’ll need to make daily.
The best thing about making a decision based on a principle is that you don’t have to think much over it. That makes your decisions quicker.
It is true however that all decisions cannot be made on the basis of principles alone. There will arise those choices which will require deep thought and analysis.
Even the principles might need to be changed over time. Time can make profound changes in your mindset, in your philosophy and in your values. There is no point denying that, nor is there a point resisting that.
It was Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher who said:
Change is the only permanent thing.
Yet, as long as you believe in a principle, it makes sense to apply it to make your decisions. And making a personal mantra out of your principle helps in making this decision making process almost involuntary.
Once you master this art of making quick decisions, your ability in dealing with various situations in your daily life will be appreciated and adored by those around you. More than that, you will feel that the levels of stress in your life are reduced greatly.
How to find a personal mantra?
As I said, your personal mantra is a verbal affirmation of your principles. You are the best person who can find one, for who knows your principles better than you?
The first way to find a personal mantra is to make one.
This can seem a little daunting if you are not used to creating with words, yet can be done with patience and some thinking.
All you have to be careful is to avoid negative words at all costs in your mantra. You are going to repeat this many times over from now on, on a daily basis and you don’t want yourself to pump in negativity in to your thoughts, do you?
I’m not suggesting to avoid words like can’t, won’t totally. Sometimes, such words can help us relate to what we are feeling and when included in a mantra can help us catch ourselves when we feel those feelings.
For example, the famous words from Henry Ford:
Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right!
It makes a perfect mantra. I have personally used it over the years to catch myself thinking the “can’t”.
What I suggest is to avoid sentences like “I won’t do ________ from now on” and so on. If you really want to make such a statement as your mantra, try to figure out a way to word that sentence using positive terms like “will” and “can”.
Another way is to read a lot of books based on or written about the principles you believe in. You will definitely find some phrases or sentences from these books that can serve the purpose of a mantra.
Use a highlighter to mark out those as you read, or note them down in your journal or something. Get back to those after finishing the book and your favorite line will be there, waiting to be chosen.
Another method is to use quotes made by people you admire. A quote brings with it the power and vitality of the speaker and is hence even more effective as a personal mantra. That is why you should choose only quotes from people you admire or whom you think knows what he is saying.
How to absorb your mantra in to your life?
Step 1 in doing this is to write your personal mantra down on a paper or card and stick it at a place or more places where you will see it on a daily basis.
Step 2 is to make a habit of repeating your personal mantra in your mind at specific times in a day. You can do this without spending additional time on it. For example, saying it out loud or in your mind when you are in the shower is a good way of doing it.
Make this part of your daily routine for at least 40 days. That way, applying the mantra in your daily life becomes a subconscious activity. This makes daily decision making a quick process and reduces all the feelings of overwhelm and stress.
As much as it is good to base your life on principles you believe in and to seek the help of personal mantras to apply them in your life, always keep in mind that you can always change your principles.
The thing about principles is that you feel so attached to them and you feel that your principle is the only right one.
Time can change your beliefs, your views on life and subsequently your principles. Experiences in life could turn your principles around the whole 180 degrees and it is alright.
There is no point in holding on to beliefs if you find that they do not serve you anymore.
Let go of them and feel free to adopt new principles as you keep flowing along the river of life. And as you do so, feel free to change your personal mantras too.
And there is no rights or wrongs here. We are souls learning the ways of the world and though what you believed in your twenties might feel foolish now, that might have been what was needed for you to live through those times.
And definitely, what you are now and your principles now evolved from those old ones. So even as you discard your old principles and mantras in life, be grateful to them.
If you ask me, there is no right way to do a thing, anything. There are a million ways to be, to do things, to create, to live and to work your miracles. Where your quest for the right way is abandoned is where you find the keys to those million possibilities.
And that, is my personal mantra.
Have you found yours?
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