NL WOMAN: Why we should all have a sacred mantra to survive

US businesswoman and philanthropist Barb Schmidt
US businesswoman and philanthropist Barb Schmidt

Could something as simple as a few words help you reduce stress and live more mindfully? Barb Schmidt, author of The Practice and wellbeing devotee, certainly believes so. Here, she explains the power of the Sacred Mantra

Can you imagine going through life without tools that make it possible to live? From simple carpentry tools, utensils, and household appliances to the most sophisticated computers and machinery, tools help us build and navigate our world. They help us survive.

So what if I told you that there was a tool you could carry around with you all day long - all life long - that would help you not only to survive, but also to thrive? I call this tool a Sacred Mantra.

It is a word, phrase, verse, or prayer with a long history of use that’s hallowed or considered holy by the tradition or culture from which it originated, that you have personally chosen for your use.

Why do I call it a Sacred Mantra? The word sacred is broadly defined by social scientists as that which is set apart from the ordinary and worthy of veneration, so what makes the mantra sacred is its intimate association with saints, mystics, or other spiritual masters, teachers, and traditions.

The word mantra is a Sanskrit word that means ‘mind travel’. So the mantra traverses the mind and sends us into another space. Simply put, to use your Sacred Mantra means to repeat it silently to yourself under any number of circumstances throughout the day. It intercepts or slows down the rush of thoughts, helping you to act mindfully, rather than to mindlessly react.

A mantra is sacred because when we use it, we are calling upon the strength of all the great people before us who have used it for support, spiritual wellbeing, and deep connection.

A Sacred Mantra is the tool that intercepts the flow of negative, stressful thoughts and helps us to connect deep within with who we are, with the great source of strength inside of us - the Lord, Source, God, the Light, Beloved, Divine Guide. Whatever we choose to call it.

In this way, the mantra is our support and strength, helping us manage anything that life sends our way.

Remember, the Sacred Mantra does not change the circumstances in the outer world, it stops the rush of thoughts so we can be present to our life in the moment and make decisions and take action from a place of awareness, love, and strength.

When our thoughts begin to wander, usually to the past or future, repeating our Sacred Mantra brings us right back to the present. For example, if I notice that my mind is wandering to feelings of fear while I am waiting for a doctor appointment, I silently repeat my Sacred Mantra - intercepting the anxious, fearful thoughts brings me back to the moment. The mind can start thinking thoughts of fear before we know what is truly happening, causing a great deal of stress and anxiety. Bringing the mind back to the moment helps us conserve our energy, as well as stay calm and ready for whatever action we may need to take.

When choosing a Sacred Mantra we can look to religious traditions for phrases and words like “My God and my All”, the prayer words of St. Francis of Assisi; or in the Hindu tradition the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Rama, Rama”, meaning “the joy within”; or a non-religious mantra, the Aramaic “Maranatha” meaning “Lord of the Heart.” Do research and take time finding a phrase, word or prayer that speaks to your heart.

When we find the space between anxious, stressful thoughts by repeating this powerful tool in our minds, we are accessing the place within that can supply courage and strength during the day and in our sleep.

The beauty of the Sacred Mantra is that we have this tool with us wherever we go, and we can learn to use it in every situation we encounter throughout the day-in business meetings, while shopping, when interacting with others, sitting in traffic, and during our ordinary tasks.

This daily spiritual tool can be used with or without a religious context; it is our deepest connection with ourselves.

We cannot control what happens in the outer world, but when we connect within we can handle anything life sends our way with confidence and courage.