October 15, 2013

Mantra Movement: Putting Positive Words into the World, One Sticker at a Time. ~ Dana Bisenius

“We must produce peace of mind through our own effort, through our own sort of mental action…That’s training of the mind.” ~ Dalai Lama XIV

Mantra Movement is people putting positive words into the world, one sticker at a time. The stickers and magnets are visual reminders to help us cultivate a habit of happiness and compassion in our daily lives. Putting a sticker on a car or bike may be a small action, but it is an action of great love, with great consequence. A mantra is an agent for change, for ourselves and for all who see it. If we want to see more kindness in the world, we need to put the “kindness” mantra into the world.

Recent studies in neuroscience demonstrate that practiced positive thinking actually alters the structure and function of the brain. Thanks to neuroplasticity, our moods can be changed through regular mental exercises, which also happens to be an ancient Buddhist belief. This practice has been around for centuries, but now there is scientific proof of the many mental and physical benefits. We now see meditation and mindfulness utilized in schools, businesses, faith communities, medical groups and professional sports teams.

Mantra meditation is used wherever and whenever we need it, just as soon as a negative feeling bubbles up, making it easy to incorporate meditation into our daily routine. Mantras stop destructive emotions in their tracks and make room for positive emotions like peace, joy and kindness.

Join the movement. Let’s get happy.

Daily stresses, as trivial as being stuck in traffic, were getting the best of me.

Some days felt like a series of negative emotions: impatience, irritability and anxiety. I knew that I would benefit from meditation, but it was difficult to make time for seated, silent mindfulness. Mantras became my on-the-go meditation practice.

A mantra is an instrument of the mind. I started using positive, one-word intentions, like “gratitude” and “compassion,” as mantras at the onset of negative feelings. In seconds, I am back in control and on to the next thought. I use mantras anywhere and anytime I need them: while driving during rush hour, negotiating nap time with my preschooler or even in the middle of a conversation.

Here’s how I use the mantras:

1. Without judgment, identify the negative emotion right away. For example, “impatient.”

2. Choose the opposite, or positive, emotion as your mantra. Choose “patient.”

3. Deep breath. Take a huge inhale, hold it in, exhale. Say the word in your mind. “Patient.” Deep breath. “Patient.” Deep breath. Repeat if needed.

Your mind will quiet and you will be on to the next thought or daily activity within a matter of seconds.

Another example:

As a mom, it is easy to worry about my kids nonstop. I used to lie awake at night, practically in a panic over potential dangers like choking hazards, unsupervised swimming pools and germs from public restrooms.

I use the mantra “safe,” and take a couple deep breaths just as soon as I notice my thoughts headed in that direction. This simple act quiets my mind; brings me back into the present moment, where my children are, in fact, dozing safely and soundly in their beds, allowing me to get some sleep.

One-word mantras are effective because they are fast, easy to remember and are not statements of belief. Our conscious mind is more receptive to a single positive word than it is to an “I am…” affirmation. For example, “I am calm and relaxed in this moment,” may be immediately followed with feelings of judgment or disbelief, especially when we are in the midst of an anxious moment. “Calm,” is strong enough to stand alone.

Over time, I found that I required fewer mantras and deep breaths to get through the day stress-free. Positive thinking became a habit. I feel more emotional stability and energy, greater peace and joy. Having the mantras compassion, mindfulness, gratitude, content, patient, authentic, kindness, community, calm and strength in my life have made me a better wife, mom, friend and neighbor.


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Assistant Ed: Daniel Garcia/Ed: Sara Crolick

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Dana Bisenius