Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thoughtful Thursday: My Mantras

“Meditation is the ultimate mobile device; you can use it anywhere, anytime, unobtrusively.” 
-Sharon Salzberg

I am guilty of a bad habit: a lot of negative self-talking. My younger self tried diligently to manage every possible outcome of a situation before it happened. I was constantly afraid that my friends would be embarrassed by me, my coworkers/boss would be disappointed with me, or I would just look stupid when I attempted ... anything really, from taking a turn bowling to asking a cute guy to share his class notes.  

To get over these anxieties and negative thought patterns, I've read a lot about meditation and “Being present in the moment.” Being present helps me perform better in meetings and interviews, it allows me to stick to my principles in difficult situations, and it calms my mind when life gets overwhelming.

However, meditation is definitely something one must learn and practice. I’m still a novice, but I have claimed a few mantras that help me return to the present when I find myself languishing in the past or nail-biting the future.

Erica’s Top Four Mantras
  1. Time Will Pass. I have several iterations of this mantra, but I have found this phrase to be comforting whenever I'm "stuck" in a situation. I particularly like to use this mantra when I'm feeling regretful or embarrassed. I get in plank position (also great for core strength!) and repeat "time will pass." Taking even 3 minutes to slow down and focus reminds me that every situation is temporary and meditating prevents me from putting a negative thought reel on replay.
  2. Feelings are just feelings. I had a great counselor once share this with me: she said, “So what if you feel crappy? It’s just a feeling. Feel it, acknowledge it, but realize this feeling is an emotion, made up of chemical responses and thought patterns.” What you decide to do in a situation should not be based on a feeling, because feelings come and go. When I have a feeling that is overwhelming and halting my progress, I sit in dignity* and repeat “Feelings are just feelings.” Pretty soon, I don’t feel the same – I feel calmer, slightly more in control, and even a little hopeful. (Remember I said this took a year to practice? Just trust the process and keep trying.)
  3. Abide with me. This mantra is actually a hymn my Mom used to sing to me when I had to wear a dental device that required nightly tightening. It hurt quite badly and I would be very upset when it was time for the crank. My mom would have me lay on my bed and close my eyes. She would softly sing the song and rub my hand. I still remember the peace that came over me in those moments. Now, when I am in intense pain that can't be avoided, I lay out flat or in child’s pose, and I repeat the mantra in my head. I love the word abide when dealing with pain. With pain, you can't just will it away; you are forced to abide in it. This song reminds me of the people who are with me in spirit: from my family all the way to my ancestors who never had the luxury of medication, climate-controlled bedrooms, and a post-surgery Coca-Cola.
  4. Show Up, Be Tough. I feel a twinge of guilt admitting this, knowing what my CCA little brothers and sisters go through on a daily basis, yet it's true: I freak out a little when I have to get an IV. Once the blasted needle is in and taped up, I'm fine, but right before or during the sticking part I sometimes usually faint. Oy. Last week I had to have an IV, so I decided to try my meditation skills to prevent myself from fainting. I chose "Show up, be tough," because showing up means being in the moment. I didn't want to let my brain check out and faint as a defense mechanism -- I wanted to be in my body and acknowledge the care being given. Be tough means just that and I channeled my younger CCA sibs and their natural-born toughness to get through it. I also played a couple of calming songs on my iPhone and my nurse shared that she does this too during dental procedures. Full disclosure, when she flushed the IV, I did almost faint (ick, that taste and smell) but through meditation I stayed present and avoided passing out. I consider this a huge success and you are free to chuckle at my wimpiness. :) 

So, those are a few mantras that work for me. Think about ones that may work in your life and here's another blog post about mantras with even more suggestions. I encourage you to begin incorporating meditation into your wellness care. I can honestly say I knew about the benefits of meditation before I started practicing, but after just a year of practice I have found that meditation is a wonderful tool for medical patients.

Namaste, y’all. 

*Sitting in dignity is a pose where you sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor, back straight with shoulders relaxed, with your hands flat on your lap. Your eyes should be closed, but you should look straight ahead. Try to feel your muscles relaxing all the way from your head to your feet, as you breathe in compassion and breathe out fear, anxiety, and negativity. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing Erica!! For the past couple months, I've been so incredibly stressed out. This blog post really helped!! :)
    - Sabrina


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