Last week's inner dialogue (below) began when my irrational mind wanted to rant and act out negatively about the mantras/affirmations that are constantly all up in my face. And yes, some of these mantras are in books that I choose to read.
To get to the bottom of my simmering tantrum, I asked myself:
Do I have a problem with affirmations? No... They have helped keep me sane in tumultuous times.
Do I have a problem with the overabundance of surface layer sayings splattered all over social media boards? Mildly obnoxious, yes.
Do I have a problem with my snail's pace of healing when working with my personal affirmations? Well, when I stop to think about what I expect from myself and my ‘progress’, actually I do. Actually, now when I take stock of all the days spent rolling my eyes and muttering under my breath about my inability to change habits, no matter how long I’ve used any mantra: Yes, I have a problem. (among many).
Why am I stuck again in something that seems to work wonders for others?
Should I keep trying new mantras?
Can a mantra truly provide a quick fix?
The top mantras I keep returning to for comfort and stability are:
"Move from the heart"
My favourite and time-tested mantra “Let Go” is one I’ve been working with for as many years as I’ve known that yoga helps me to be more conscious. Literally, in any challenge I face, LET GO is the companion and teacher by my side. Let Go is something I cannot yet Let Go of, for better or for worse and the need for this mantra presents itself in so many challenges. I can’t get away from continually wanting to drop doubts, fear, expectations, judgements and so on. Thus, in many moments of darkness, I quietly condemn my heart and mind for not having gracefully mastered the act of letting go.
I hold on so tightly to ideas and stories in order to blame, to put myself on a pedestal, to hold myself hostage in a guillotine and repeating Let Go, Let Go, isn’t providing the permanent solution I think I need.
In reality, letting go is never a complete or permanent situation (none of the mantras can really provide the perfection we think we need). This entire human experience is made of glimpses of holding on, letting go, truths, emotions and so on. And knowing any of it with certainty is impossible. This life is completely and perfectly temporary. Nothing is certain. How boringly honest. We can never know what’s around the corner. Often, the moment we think we have let go, or that we have mastered patience is when the universe offers a tender smack to point us towards more growth.
It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally I offer myself a pat on the back when looking back at how far I’ve come and how much I've let go of: since all those nights serving and bartending, since all those hangovers, since all those tactics to mask and avoid pent up emotions. Yes, people can change and let go, yet I also know that new lessons quite simply continue to become more subtle, more raw, more bittersweet, if we are open to them. When I see that I’ve let go or I think I know how to do it successfully, a new opportunity for practice surfaces. For me, Let Go shifts focus to a new subject or a new situation and I begin again (sometimes begrudgingly) with the mantra in different ways. The lessons of the mantra can go on and on in various forms as long as we see the value in being clear and aware.
“The heart of a skillful meditation is the ability to let go and begin again, over and over again. Even if you have to do that a thousand times… it does not matter. There is no distance to traverse in recollecting our attention; as soon as we realize we have been lost…right in that very moment we can begin again. Nothing has been ruined, and there is no such thing as failing. There is nowhere the attention can wander to, and no duration of distraction, from which we cannot completely let go, in a moment, and begin again." (S Salzberg)
Sometimes I think there is nothing to really let go of but just a need for new perspectives on this life and to simply be reminded that we are enough as we are. Nonetheless, learning how the mind operates never gets boring; it’s a sneaky little bugger who hooks into cycles of inane repetition until one creates NEW questions for it. Every part of us wants to let go, to move from the heart, to be patient, every part of us wants to feel light and loved. In the meantime, through reflection, my new patterns of thought consist of teaching all my inner voices that they are good enough. I welcome in all the mantras I’ve repeated for such a long time, to all the visitors within my 33 year old brain. It simply takes the time it takes.
In reality, all of my mantras and affirmations can bundle into one soothing heart bath: I AM GOOD ENOUGH. Not that it is sugar coated or simple for this doubtful mind to believe…. Because for me I AM GOOD ENOUGH has to encompass all of my past, present and future selves, they are all desperate to be accepted. Finding balance and wholeness within all the aspects of self is no small task and needs one big juicy mantra.
The layers will be forever shedding.
The knowledge out there for the head and the heart is endless.
The expectation of perfection in every moment must be released.
My process is enough.
It may take my whole life. And I’m excited for that challenge. I’ve never been so ready. To begin again and again and again.