In the end, what does it all mantra?

 In Articles

It is often in a time of personal discord or forced self-reflection that one embarks on a mission to do things differently or find an alternative approach. Not all of these new ideas stick – some may come and go, with barely a backwards glance; and others might be in for the long haul.

In various capacities and from different sources, the word ‘mantra’ kept crossing my path. It’s a Sanskrit word (‘ma’ meaning mind and ‘tra’ meaning that which protects) and is a sacred statement that is recited and repeated, either aloud or internally, during a spiritual custom.

The difference between a mantra and an affirmation wasn’t initially clear to me. Affirmations are mostly specific statements to counteract self-sabotaging notions. Through the mode of visualisation, they can facilitate positive changes in one’s life.

With less gravitas than a mantra, an affirmation might be a statement simply jotted down, affixed to your mirror; it could be the sentiment that brackets your day. With a mantra having a more devotional slant, I decided the positive affirmation was a better fit for me.

It is thought that people often default to the negative. With our hardwired fight-and-flight instinct, we are unconsciously scanning for possible peril in case we need to react in nanoseconds. Through the regular utterance of positive statements, the subconscious mind is triggered into constructive action to make the statements a reality.

To be honest, when I first started the practise, it felt a bit excessive, possibly even vainglorious. Looking at yourself in the mirror, uttering something deeply personal, felt unnatural and rather inauthentic. But over time, the statement started to penetrate and it became easier, and there was a definite shift in my attitude to the process.

In addition to the mental side, there’s a physical aspect too. Amy Cuddy does a very insightful TED Talk called ‘Your body language may shape who you are’.  Amy is a social scientist who focuses on non-verbal communication or body language. In her talk, one of the slides states the following:

Our bodies change our minds

…and our minds change our behavior

…and our behavior changes our outcomes.

It’s a simple message about being cognisant of how we hold ourselves, making positive changes if necessary and how doing something on a regular basis can bring about lasting change.

In addition to this, she affirms that the more we do something, even if we’re winging it at the outset, the greater the chances of making it part of our belief system. Often, external feedback from others will confirm the shift.

She closes off with this:

Don’t fake it ‘til you make it.

Fake it ‘til you become it.

So, as one decade ends and a new one begins, it is an opportune time to explore and examine possibilities for personal growth and development. Perhaps consider recent feedback (or consider seeking out new feedback from various sources) – use it as a springboard to be creative and positive about yourself; formulate some alternative and fresh perceptions. In addition to bringing awareness to the shifts you’d like to make in 2020, positive, regular affirmations may be an invaluable way of entrenching these desired changes.

As often happens, when you’re in a good space, the habits that take a bit more work fall by the wayside. Don’t let these habits go. There aren’t many individuals out there who don’t need regular, positive reinforcement and, the best part is, it comes from within. The power is within you and is all yours.

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