Even as a meditator for over 25 years, I still welcome a little guidance. I prefer hearing some words of comfort, encouragement, and wisdom from the masters: founding guru Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dan Harris’ 10 Percent Happier’s Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzberg, or my all-time fave, Headspace’s Andy Puddicombe (his soothing British accent makes me feel like all is well in the world, even though it ain’t). But I’ll take almost any kind of audio guidance, from humans or music, to set my meditation mood. I can kick back to rhythmic Nepalese chants or spa music, a full guided walkthrough for an hour, or a 10-minute relaxation clip I found on YouTube.
With a lot of seat time already, I still battle the dreaded Monkey Mind (incoming and usually moderately stressful idea bombs about emails, projects, deadlines, bills, my kids, bills, no time for writing, and bills). Sitting quietly with an audio guide (which distracts me from the outside world and back into my inner space) is almost always a requirement for me. It’s just hard for me to sit quietly and listen to my own head and lungs.
While I’m not a trained practitioner of Transcendental Meditation, I understand the concepts behind using mantras. Like Winnie the Pooh, being a bear with a very small brain means that I get bored easily. I can meditate with a mantra, but I have to change it often because I get bored saying it. And it can’t be some phrase in Sanskrit or Hindu that doesn’t mean anything to me; it has to resonate with me.
One of my favorite mantras in my rotating mental jukebox of possibilities is: “The Scholar never stops learning. The Warrior never learns to stop.”
I consider myself to be both, formerly and currently, since at various stages in my life I have had to wear the cloak of each. I like the juxtaposition of the two phrases and I can get into each one as a mantra, at least for a few sessions, before I need to change it again.
The value of mantras, of course, is that they help you focus on one task while your body calms down, adjusts to the pace of your mediation, and intentionally slows and quiets your breathing, blood pressure, and pulse rate. Mindfulness meditation, in all its eastern and western forms, is all about the breath. So can you combine the support of a mantra with a reminder about the importance of focusing on your breathing? Of course.
For your next meditation session, try this collection of breath-based mantras. You can either focus on the inhale language or the exhale language, or switch off with both:
When I breathe in, I feel energized.
When I breathe out, I feel relaxed.
When I breathe in, I feel supported.
When I breathe out, I feel free.
When I breathe in, I feel connected.
When I breathe out, I feel focused.
When I breathe in, I feel happy.
When I breathe out, I feel peaceful.
When I breathe in, I feel ready.
When I breathe out, I feel content.
When I breathe in, I feel hopeful.
When I breathe out, I feel satisfied.
When I breathe in, I’m filled with ideas.
When I breathe out, I’m ready with solutions.
When I breathe in, I’m filled with stamina.
When I breathe out, I’m ready to achieve.
When I breathe in, I’m filled with possibilities.
When I breathe out, I know the answers.
When I breathe in, I feel my spirit prepare.
When I breathe out, I feel my spirit soar.
When I breathe in, I feel my mind and body relax.
When I breathe out, I can drift into sleep.