Freeing the Mind

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, (Using Affirmations as Mantras), mantras are usually short Sanskrit sentences that translate often into some form of “I bow to God.” People łiving in religious communities that use mantras are encouraged to say their mantra all day every day. Saying a mantra quiets people’s minds and in so doing they are better able to focus on God.

Months ago, while I was living in a senior residential community, I faced a situation where that knowledge was useful.

I was beginning to have more trouble walking. One day, as I walked, my foot became caught in a paper bag. I was increasingly frustrated. No matter what I did, I couldn’t free my foot from the bag. Since then I’ve been told that that kind of experience and the accompanying frustration is typical in Parkinson’s patients.

About this same time, I started saying “I can’t do it” a lot. Eventually, I realized that I was immersed in negative thinking.

Whenever I heard myself say “I can’t do it. I changed it to “I can do it.” or “I will do it.” At times, I even used the line from ”The Little Engine that Could. “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can”. And once I achieved the challenging task, I said “I did do it.”

I decided if i was going to free my mind from negativity it could be done with a positive mantra. Tochange what I was saying to myself,I would change my mantra. While I knew that it’s best to say the mantra all day every day, I also knew that in therapy group we only expected clients to say it 1000 times a day. For this purpose I would say it anytime I was facing a challenging problem where I was tempted to say “I can’t do it” and if I still had problems I would bump the mantra repetition up to 1000 times a day.

I soon noticed that I was more successful in meeting my goals when I said the positive mantras, i.e. “I think I can” pretending I was the little engine chugging along the tracks or using ”I can do ït” or “I will do it” or “I did do it” as a positive mantra.

(Note: ”I will do it“ is the mantra that is most likely to be successful while “I can do it” and “ I think I can” tend to be less effective. Whatever the mantra is that brought you to success should be changed to “I did do it”once you’re successful. It is important that you reward yourself in this way.)

Challenge for Growth Prompt #1: Needs vs Wants

20150726_193656Needs vs Wants

Welcome to the first “Challenge for Growth” Prompt!  I look forward to posting a new challenge for you every Wednesday at 5 a.m. PST.  I am also eager to see the posts you create in response.

General Prompt Information:

Since it is easier to make behavioral changes if we focus on them one day at a time, each of the weekly challenges will start with “Today, I focus on…….” It will be up to you to decide how long you want to focus on a particular challenge— one, two, three days or even longer. At some point during the week, publish a post that relates in some way to the subject of the week. Feel free to use whatever form you desire: i.e., prose, story, poem, photograph, etc.

Link your post back to this prompt post. If the pingback doesn’t work, then leave the link to your post in the comment section.  Be sure to include “Challenge for Growth Prompts” as one of your tags.

Throughout the week, I will publish the links for the posts that were created as the result of this prompt.  That way they will be seen by anyone who comes to the Challenge page.

If you don’t have a blog, please feel free to join the discussion in the comment section below.


This week’s challenge is:

“Today I focus on my needs rather than my wants.”

The nature of the mind is that as soon as one desire is met, it is off to the next one, often without taking any time to appreciate the desire that was just realized. An endless stream of wants leads to the experience of scarcity; we never feel full, we never think we have or are enough.

One way to create a sense of abundance in our lives is to decrease the number of our desires. We can do that by putting our primary focus on meeting our needs and then prioritizing our wants. The first step for many people is to learn to differentiate their needs from their wants. Some examples: We need water – We want a soda; We need food – We want a big restaurant meal; We need shelter – We want a new house.

This week practice identifying which of your desires are needs and which are wants. When looking at your list of wants, decide which are the most important to you.  On the day or days you focus on this week’s challenge, give priority to meeting your needs.  If you put energy into obtaining any of your wants, be sure they are ones you have determined to be of significant importance.

Sometime during the week, write a post about Needs vs Wants. It may be a general post regarding some aspect of the topic or it may be about an experience you had when focusing on your needs instead of your wants.

I look forward to seeing where this challenge takes you.


This Week’s Prompt Contributors:

The Bliss We Seek- The Seeker’s Dungeon

2016 Needs- Self Therapy

Needs vs Wants (Haibun)- Traces of the Soul

Resolve- Dream Cloud Diaries

Compassion’s Desires (Haibun)- Tournesol dans un Jardin

Are My Trips to Amritapuri Fulfilling a Need or a Want?- Living, Learning and Letting Go

The Needing Want- Nik’s Place

Needs vs Wants- Journey of a Warrior Womyn



Chinese Proverb: Birds of Sorrow

Photo Credit: Wikimedia


You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head,
but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair.





Journey Into the Mind (Limerick)



I spent the weekend in a place of incredible beauty.  The company was wonderful, the food was great.  I was doing the things I love to do, singing, chanting, being.  What more could I ask?  I could ask for a mind that would stop thinking, stop worrying, let me rest.


What better subject to address in my second Writing 201 assignment:  “Write a limerick about a journey.”

  • Limericks are traditionally composed of five lines of verse.
  • The traditional rhyming scheme of a limerick is a a b b a — the first two lines rhyme, then the next two, and the final verse rhymes with the first couplet.


My First Limerick

Journey into the mind, dark and dreary.
Caught in the maze, alone and teary
Where is the peace?
Where is the release?
Bring me out of this state so bleary.


Written for Writing 201:  Journey

Negotiating the Supermarket of the Mind


Question from someone at Amma’s 2014 San Ramon Retreat:

I have a question about negative thoughts and emotions. I find myself wondering what the right attitude is and how to prevent negative thoughts and emotions from affecting my life and affecting others. Continue reading “Negotiating the Supermarket of the Mind”


The Daily Post prompt for today is called Full Disclosure. We were given this information:

A mad scientist friend offers you a chip that would allow you to know what the people you’re talking to are thinking. The catch: you can’t turn it off. Do you accept the chip?

I don’t need to think twice about my answer to that question. It is: NO, NEVER, NOT A CHANCE, GET IT AWAY FROM ME, I DON’T WANT ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT!  I hope my answer is clear to all concerned.

Years ago I observed that people who are psychotic say the things that go through their minds without editing their thoughts first. I pray that never happens to me since I know what a mess my mind is.

And there is no way I would want to hear anyone else’s unedited thoughts either!  I choose to stay in ignorance.


When the Mind is Still

Many years ago, I learned from Stephen Gilligan, an Ericksonian hypnotherapist, that our bodies must have trance (i.e. altered state) experiences, and that if we do not get that trance in  healthy ways  such as through meditation, singing, guided imagery, gardening, drawing, etc, we will create it through unhealthy behaviors such as obsessive thinking, compulsions, and addictions.

In an altered state experience, our minds become significantly slower than in our normal state and we are much more in the moment.  As humans, our most powerful insights usually occur, not when we are thinking about them, but when our minds are silent. Creativity is the same in that art, inventions, and scientific inspirations so often emerge during times of stillness.

I will share two experiences where new forms of self-expression were birthed in this way for me. Continue reading “When the Mind is Still”