Don’t let the word mantra scare you – If it evokes visions of incense and flowy clothes, it’s time for an update – Time to embrace a new era, a new definition. In a 2015 informal survey conducted by staff at Evolutionary Consulting, participants overwhelmingly responded to questions about mantras with images of personal power and fortitude. When asked, “What image comes to mind with the phrase mantra?”, 80% of participants said:
- A strong surge of energy
- A fierce lion
- An empowered human in a power pose
- Wonder Woman
- An old powerhouse of a truck
- An energy drink
- The word – YES!
For the remaining 20% of responders, the phrases “Woo woo” and “hippy shit” seemed to best capture the antiquated feelings around mantras. The modern mantra is not an utterance, a magic spell, or endless chanting. It is not reserved for those in yoga pants, flowy skirts, or those who dedicate 10 hours a day to meditation. The word mantra comes from a root meaning of “that which protects the mind”. So…let’s modernize this powerful tool!
A Power Mantra (I add the word power to emphasize the modern meaning) is for everybody – health gurus and couch potatoes, for children and the elderly, for individuals and for movements. I define it as: A phrase repeated often, to retrain your brain to believe that the challenge can be overcome, the power lies within, and that YOU are the solution.
Consider this – The sun offers warmth on a cool day – If you sit in a sunny spot, it will slowly and gently warm your skin. That same beam of light, when brought into focus, say with a magnifying glass, can burn so hot and so intense, that it can start a fire. In this analogy, the sun is your energy and thoughts. The magnifying glass is your Power Mantra. It brings your brain into focus – into concentration.
Our brains are simply amazing – completely fascinating! AND that same magnificent creature is a lazy SOB! It is a creature of habit, of routine. If your self-critics (AKA, the voices in your head) are in the habit of telling you that you can’t, that you won’t, that you aren’t worthy, that you are not talented enough, that you are not beautiful enough, that this is all you deserve, and that you will NEVER BE ENOUGH….your brain will believe, your emotions will react, and your actions will concede. The self-critics will see the evidence and loudly announce, “SEE! We told you!”
Create your own Power Mantra to interrupt the self-critics and refocus your thoughts. Here are three things to keep in mind when choosing or creating your Power Mantra:
- Make it clear, simple, and easy to remember – it’s no good if you can’t remember the thing!
- Let it shine – Let it be uplifting, positive, and present. Example: I am exactly where I need to be vs. I will be in the right place or I am not in the wrong place. Note the subtle but significant difference in the above examples.
- Remember the magnifying glass – make it powerful enough to interrupt that lazy brain of ours and its willingness to believe the self-critics. Good Power Mantras interrupt these self-defeating thoughts and redirect us to powerful and empowering thoughts.
Use your Power Mantra, as often as needed – for many of us, especially when we embark on a new way of thinking, we’ll use it often – many times a day, in fact. EVERYTIME the self-critic speaks, we say our mantra to interrupt the pattern and change the flow. We say it as we lace up our running shoes, before the big meeting, during the difficult conversation, as we drive, as we parent, as we love, and as we lead. Eventually, the mantra goes from conscious, to unconscious. It is no longer something we must actively concentrate our energy on. Eventually, our brain believe us – we are beautiful, talented, fit, and free. And our actions now reinforce our mantras, not our self-critics.
Here are a few Power Mantras to consider as you create yours. Remember, you can always use ones that already exist. When it works, it works – it doesn’t have to be an original piece of art!
- “My mantra is: Let there be happiness in my soul, and let me share it with the world.” ~Alexandra Stoddard
- “My mantra has always been to have zero regrets in life. Everything I do at one speed, I go all-out.” ~Apolo Ohno
- “Start where I am. Use what I have. Do what I can.” ~Arthur Ashe
- I am blissful. I am bountiful. I am beautiful. (This is my current Power Mantra – compliments of my Yogi Tea bag.)
- Notice the miracles.
- Let peace begin with me.
- The experience is the reward. (I use this as a parenting mantra)
- Inhale the love. Exhale the fear. (I used this for months after a very challenging time in my life)
- Consider several areas of your life where you face a challenge.
- Start by writing what your self-critics are saying – what are the messages that replay in your mind?
- Next, using the tips above, write a Power Mantra that works for you.
- Say it out loud to yourself. Even if you feel foolish, do it anyway.
- Write down your Power Mantra on several stickies and put them up where you will see them. Say your Power Mantra every time you see those sticky notes. Say it during the day. Say it before you go to sleep.
- Finally, do this for seven days consectuively – commit to trying it for a full week. Each day, journal about the process. Within this first week, you will notice significant changes in your energy, your emotions, and even your actions.
Tiffany is a Transformative Life Coach, Writer, Facilitator, and Consultant with Evolutionary Consulting.
Neuroscience for Everyday People.