Without steadiness of mind, no one can face the challenges of life without breaking. Life today is challenging to say the least. We live in the midst of conflicts – within ourselves, at home, in the community, and especially nationally and internationally these days. This is an age of conflict which makes it an age of anxiety as well. Nothing is more vital than learning to face the turmoil with confidence and compassion.
I love L R Knost’s quote: “Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing. And then it’s awful again. And in between the amazing and the awful, it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living. Heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.”
We already have the capacity to deal with challenges. But we need a calm mind to draw on the resources locked up within.
How do we calm the mind? One very powerful way is so simple that everyone can learn it easily right now: the repetition of a prayer word or a mantra.
You can think of the mantra as a handrail for the mind. It gives you something to hold on to, so that you can steady yourself in confusing circumstances until your thoughts become clear. You can think of repeating the mantra as calling God collect or, if you prefer, as an emergency call to your highest self. Either way, repeating the mantra is an appeal for resources that are always present but seem invisible in times of trouble.
What is a mantra? How can it help you? How does it work? The term mantra or mantram stands for a word or short phrase that you can repeat silently to yourself to help you cope with stress. It has the power to calm and steady your mind whenever you need access to deeper reserves of strength or patience within you.
This simple skill is thousands of years old. Saint Francis of Assisi repeated “My God and my all.” Mahatma Gandhi used. “Rama, rama.” I grew up saying the Jesus prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us.” Others I use are from Scripture, “My Shepherd is the Lord,” or “Into your hands I commend my Spirit.”
If you are like me, you might say to yourself that this is just too simple to work. But if you faithfully try using a mantra of your choice, you will be amazed how effective it is.
How do the mantra help? It calms you down, whether you’re facing a minor irritation or a major drama. It stops you from reacting too quickly. It stymies anger, fear and panic. It gives you breathing space. And it works fast. If you start using it today, you’ll probably feel the benefit of it the very next time you face a problem. But the more often you repeat the mantra, the deeper its benefits go.
We can’t control life, but we can control how we respond to life’s challenges. The mantra is a key tool for steadying the mind. It’s not just mechanical repetition – you learn to trust by using it. A steady mind has the resources to meet any crisis – no matter what the cause. You don’t have to analyze each crisis separately; just use the mantra and you can calm the mind. The most important lesson to learn from a crisis is to find your center of strength within.
BY BOB MUELLER
Mission & Stewardship Officer at Hosparus Health