Monday, October 9, 2017

Monday Mantra

My favorite meditation technique has always been, without question, the use of a mantra.  In life, I'm pretty much always talking, reading, or writing.  I love words, and they have a much more powerful effect on me than trying to focus on a visualization or reflect on an idea.  In addition to (or in place of, sometimes) New Year's Resolutions, I like to find one word or phrase to use to help shape my thoughts, goals, and actions.

So - I have a lot of mantras floating around in my head.  Some are just handy reminders that I can think of during a stressful time, and some are more like life mottos for myself.

Recently, this one popped into my head:

"Everything is a blessing."

After a day which had started out easy and peaceful and dissolved into, I believe the technical term is, a bit of a shit show, I made it through a last minute change in plans which I had allowed to stress me out unnecessarily (which I sadly do all the time), I thought to myself that things had actually worked out fine and that perhaps the change in plans was a "blessing in disguise."

It immediately occurred to me, though, that what I assign as a "blessing" is just a matter of perspective and what I choose to focus on.  It's easy to see a pay raise, a new relationship, or getting something we want or need as a blessing, but the things that challenge us or even hurt us always bring at least some benefits along with them - they're just hidden more deeply, and usually take a longer time to reveal themselves or for us to have the ability to see them.  If what doesn't kill us makes us stronger, then what doesn't kill us blesses us.

I realize the term "everything happens for a reason" does not sit well with a lot of people - and I can see where this "everything is a blessing" won't, either.  If you're dealing with something truly tragic - a family member with a terminal illness, suffering from a natural disaster or senseless violence - I 100% acknowledge that these sentiments can seem not just useless but insulting.  If you're still in survival mode or shock or true despair, this can seem wildly trivializing.

If it does work for you, though - it can really work for you.  Life is cruel and unfair and does not discriminate (thank you Hamilton) against who it can kick in the ass from day to day.  All we have is how we respond and how we see things.  If you can step back, take a second, and choose this as your thought, instead of "Why me?" or "This sucks," it can make a world of difference in how you perceive your challenges.

It doesn't mean you don't feel frustrated, experience suffering, or still fall into what may be lifelong habits of losing your temper or playing the victim (or both! yay!), but a mantra is a powerful technique of perspective change.  Embracing the use of mantra as a tool to help you choose a different internal and external response to challenge has the power to make you not just happier but healthier by reducing inner drama and stress.  It can shift your focus from the negative event to what positive things can come out of it, even if those positive things will take a little while to materialize.

So - try it.  When the week throws curveballs your way, when the news makes you want to pull your hair out (for me, that's the hardest area to apply this one!), when you fall into a usual trap of road or subway rage or judgement, repeat this in your mind until you can believe it:

Everything is a blessing.


And as they say in the South - have a blessed day, y'all.

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