Tough times come in many categories: challenge, growth, fear, overwhelm, striving, burning, new, transition, change, pain, joy (yup that can be just as hard) or those tough times that are downright shitty in all areas. We know this to be true. It will be hard, we will transform, and so will those around us.
Yesterday I was mountain biking up a hill. It was tough, and of course it was both a literal hill, and a metaphor for those tough times in life. It got me thinking about something simple I do, that works for me, in those tough times to get through. My mantra.
The word mantra works for me. The literal Sanskrit (ancient language) translation is “to think, to think a thought behind speech or action.” This is something else I’m curious about a lot, how our thoughts lead to action, movement, behavior. Good old Webster says “a word or phrase that is repeated often or that expresses someone’s basic beliefs.” Again, I’m curious about how we live our beliefs and values in the world. So mantra, something I repeat to myself, to support me in action, so I can live in the integrity of my beliefs.
There are lots of mantras or words/phrases out there to try on (Thomas: I think I can, Dori: Just keep swimming), but I think it is the most potent if we create our own. Something short, memorable, potent, and emotionally charged, which will light a fire under our ass during those tough moments, and remind us that we will make it through. Taking a breath, letting it out. Feeling the intensity in my gut.
I’ll share mine as an example. My mantra is #jazzhands. It’s an unlikely mantra, but to me it is a potent seed of transformation. This is a mantra that already existed within me, came out of my experience, and creates that feeling between laughing/crying where I feel the hope and tragedy of my life intermingled. And, most importantly, it immediately snaps me out of whatever messy thought pattern I’m in, brings me back to the present, and reminds me, oh right, yes I can!
Jazzhands is about my prior career, the career that I left because of my illness, the grief and loss associated with my illness, the metamorphosis and change process and growth as a result of hitting bottom, having a sense of humor, and being present on stage… the stage of life. Not wasting a moment. Being curious and joyful about living in this body, in this lifetime, even when it feels like suffering and pain. And that everything I’ve gone through has lead me to this present moment where I get to show up completely and say yes to my life. #Jazzhands.
So what’s yours?
Try some on. Keep it simple, memorable, and potent. And then hold yourself accountable. I wrote it on my mirror. I wrote it on my website. I say it out loud in groups and get other people literally doing jazzhands (choreography!). Fully mind, body, spirit people! So get in there and do some internal questing to uncover your personal mantra. Remember, there’s nothing too silly, odd, or weird, and the only person it has to make sense to is you! You don’t have to justify it, you just get to live it.
And then start practicing, because if you want something to be there in the tough times, you’ve got to practice it in the other times. So when you’re biking up the “hill” you can shout out loud #jazzhands, make yourself laugh, scare some prairie dogs, and keep peddling.
Post your mantra below or on Facebook, to get some accountability and claim it, and have fun with it!