Dance is my mantra. While dancing, if I can let go of “thinking,” I can drop into the space between my thoughts. At these times, dance helps me remember who I am. It creates space in my mind and heart for new ideas and perspectives.
However, sometimes I can’t let go of my thoughts. When I am trying to “think” my way to the next step it invariably causes me to immediately forget the choreography. In those times, I am dancing but not allowing myself to let go of the words in my head.
Whether I can get out of my head or not, I am still happy. I still get to dance. But the times when I can really go within while moving are heart-opening, joyful, and (potentially) transformative – like all forms of meditation.
When I am having trouble emptying my mind, I sometimes use a silent mantra in a sitting meditation. Usually it’s just “ohm,” but it really works for me.
A mantra in meditation helps you suspend the relentless flow of words that usually crowds your consciousness. It opens your mind. It creates the space for something new and transformative.
And then there are the things we habitually and unconsciously say to ourselves that are negative and hurtful. (“I’m not good enough,” “I’ll never be successful at this,” “Why did I say such a stupid thing?”)
Because we repeat these thoughts over and over, they become a mantra, too, but one that is debilitating instead of liberating.
Habitual negative thoughts about yourself are dangerous when used like a mantra because they allow no other thought to come in. Rather than opening the mind, they narrow it.
It is worth looking within to see what negative mantras we have accumulated. I know I have many. Not as many as I used to, but still quite a few.
Examination and awareness of the damage we do to ourselves (and the healing of that damage) helps everyone. Often healing comes just from the act of bringing the hurt into the light -- and in these troubled times, that is enlightened, not selfish.
I will close with this quote from Lao Tse. It was posted on Facebook by one of my friends:
“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself.
If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself.
Truly the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.”
--- Lao Tse
Photo by MaryEllen Hendricks