Mantras are usually associated with religious rituals, especially in Hinduism and Buddhism. Mantras involve the repetition of a word or phrase to help with awareness, focus and dedication. The refrain can be spoken or silent. It can be, “Thank you, Jesus,” or “Om…”
Mantras have not been a part of my religious tradition, but, years ago, Dear Abby got my attention with a letter about the usefulness of mantras in a secular setting. If I remember correctly, the letter-writer had been overweight and lost a lot of pounds as she matured. High school friends, when they saw her, commented endlessly about her weight-loss: How did it happen? Why did it happen? Tell me about it. To avoid getting mired in a conversation about a painful subject she wanted to put behind her, she developed a mantra, “That’s a part of my life I don’t talk about any more. Let’s discuss something else.”
Unwilling to settle for that, some of these acquaintances attempted to manipulate the conversation to return to the topic of their choice, her weight: “Come on. We were great friends. How did you lose that weight? You can tell me.”
She repeated the mantra: “That’s a part of my life I don’t talk about any more. Let’s discuss something else.” No matter how tempting the question, the mantra worked.
In dealing with addictions and other bad habits, a mantra can be helpful. A mantra for yourself is even more powerful than one you speak to someone else. Here are some to consider:
• Put the fork down.
• Turn the computer/video game/iPhone off. Turn it off.
• Go home.
• Shut my mouth.
• I’m not in charge of this.
• Get out of the kitchen.
• Put your hands in your pockets.
• Just say No.
• Walk away.
• I am somebody.
• Do something different tonight.
• Don’t buy this today.
• Let it go.
My life is better because of a handful of mantras that keep me focused.