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.)