Extended time with my family of origin always seems to feel like eating a mixed bag of jelly bellies in a dark movie theater. I am going to eat the whole bag because my favorite flavors are in there...
October 4, 2016 - Daily Notes, From the Editor
I remembered on Sunday that mantras have a purpose.
The crows outside my bedroom window were the only things louder than my mind. The fervor of unnecessary thoughts often arrives upon waking--lately, a combination of my must do's alongside the thick sludge of unwanted uncertainty surrounding the upcoming presidential election.
Guilty of feeding off the beast, I read the New York Times voraciously from my iPhone. I hunch over the tiny screen searching for clues that this terrifying person will not become our president, grasping for proof that basic human goodness will prevail.
Listening to birds bark incessantly through the quiet morning, I remembered: We are what we think.
Driving toward the park, I recalled something my yoga teacher once offered, the idea that mantras can be used at any time, not only during the practice of formal meditation. Watchwords and incantations serenely muttered, softly chanted, or murmured under the breath, give one's mind a job to do. You see, our minds need a job. Have you ever noticed that? My mind, without a task, tends to head off the rails and into the realm of fear. Especially when I feed it a steady diet of election coverage.
Some of my mantras are a single word. "Beauty" or "soft" or "love" often suffice. Sometimes my mantras are longer phrases, like "I am safe," or "Now I am breathing in, now I am breathing out."
As I drove, I began to murmur, "Om namah shivaya...om namah shivaya...om namah shivaya." It is a Sanskrit phrase and loosely translates as, "I respectfully invoke the one who lives in the heart of all of us."
It had been months since I had remembered this practice. Within minutes my body began to soften. My shoulders relaxed, my jaw unclenched, my grip on the steering wheel became a caress.
Miraculously, my brain stopped going to the thoughts I did not need to think today. Instead I was noticing the beauty in front of me, appreciating the changing tree colors, forgiving other drivers for their mistakes and gently smiling rather than cursing. I was breathing deeply.
At the park, I marveled at the way Cecil Brunner roses both defy and compliment early autumn's rusty tones with their soft pink blooms.
At the water's edge, still chanting softly under my breath, I noticed my awareness had dropped into my heart. As the founder of Lucia, a magazine about heart, I spend a lot of time thinking about ways we could all give more voice to the heart. Yet it always surprises me how it actually feels when I stumble back into feeling my own. It felt tender, like a homecoming, and resilient. There was a sensitive willingness to share what it knows, now that I was listening again.
I thought about my boyfriend and the date we would have later in the evening, and I noticed how my thoughts about him had shifted from the tightness of, "We must talk about this future thing," to "I have so much admiration for the way he is always present with me when we are together, and I would like to be sure I tell him this tonight."
I moved my muscles, balanced, and breathed. The mantra kept floating from my lips. My body welcomed the freedom from the previous week's raucous thoughts and indulged in pure play. I drank my coffee and made yoga poses and took photographs and chanted, and chanted, and chanted.
Today is Tuesday, and work is here again. The Internet is here again. Thoughts are here again. But I used my mantra on the walk to get coffee, and I realized I do not have to wait for another Sunday morning in order to invoke clear mind, or be in touch with my own heart.
The crows are still barking, but as they do I am whispering, "Om namah shivaya."
Happy October, loves.
Laura Lowery is the founder, editor and publisher of Lucia. She does her best to lead a creative life. Whether triumphant or stumbling, Laura shares daily notes (that are often weekly) here on luciajournal, including stories, behind-the-scenes happenings, little doses of inspiration, and large quantities of curiosity and heart. She is pleased to meet you.