30 Days of Personal Growth, Day 12: Meditate on Mantras

I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.

-Jimmy Dean

Yesterday I found out the convenient bus route I take from my internship every day had changed. Instead of walking two feet to catch the bus, I’d have to walk a little less than half a mile. I was already having a ho-hum day, so I rolled my eyes as I searched for a new way to get  home. Why did they have to change the route this summer? I wondered. It was a small inconvenience, yes, but an inconvenience nonetheless.

Then I remembered 30 Days of Personal Growth. I remembered that I had just written a post about maturity, about dealing with unexpected setbacks like an adult. And in that moment, I formulated a new mantra: I can deal with unfavorable circumstances. I still wasn’t happy with the bus route change, but I accepted the fact that I had no control over it. My mantra reminded me that I could handle that situation and any like it.

You don’t have to practice any particular religion to speak a word or phrase that transforms your mind. I used to picture a Buddhist monk sitting cross-legged in temple repeating Om” when I heard the word “mantra,” but all you need are a few phrases that are positive, short, and personal, phrases that you can repeat to yourself as much as you need to, anywhere you need to. For example, when I hear that someone dislikes me, I remind myself that I can live with anyone’s opinion of me or I can’t control what others think of me. When I’m tempted to do something I know I don’t need to, I say, Every time I refrain I grow stronger or I can do what’s best for me in the long run, even if it hurts right now. I keep a list of phrases in my phone that I can easily refer to in a pinch, and repeating them works for me.

I encourage you to read more about mantra meditation and write a few mantras of your own. A good one will help you stay positive, relaxed, and focused in any situation.

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30 Days of Personal Growth, Day 6: Find Your Peace

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“Peace is not the absence of conflict but the ability to cope with it.”

-Author unknown

When I was 16, I’d wake up at 6 every morning to go for a walk. As my feet hit the pavement, I would allow my mind to drift wherever it wanted. I thought of being the president, of getting married, of exploring outer space. Under the rising light, I felt at peace with myself and at home with nature.

Ten years later (my, how time flies!) I hit the snooze button on morning meditation. While I’ve tried a few times to restart my teenage ritual, late nights online or long days at work keep me glued to the bed. But I really feel like it’s time for a peace reboot. What better time than now?

I think that we often feel stressed, irritated, or “weird” because we’ve disconnected from our peace source. We’ve let the demands of our jobs and relationships overpower us, and we fly off the handle because we’re not at peace within. And while we all have our own unique methods of centering ourselves, some methods–alcohol, marijuana, casual sex–only provide an artificial feeling of contentment. They’ll only make coping more difficult over time.

My preferred peacekeeping ritual, outdoor walking, not only helps me connect with nature but helps me stay in shape (no complaints there!). But you can create your own healthy peace habit. Paint. Write. Do yoga. Listen to music. Play with a pet. Hit a few balls at the batting cage. I’ve done all of these, and they’re very helpful.

The next time you feel things just aren’t right in your world, don’t scream or argue with innocent bystanders. Instead, pull yourself into your peace place so you can determine what’s troubling you and, with your head clear, you can stand your ground against it. No matter what’s going on around you, inner peace is always an option. You just have to commit yourself to it.

Fresh and New

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Sunrise in Jamaica.

On the last day of a much-needed, ridiculously fun Jamaican vacation, I woke up around 4:45 to watch the sun rise on the beach. I was tired, but as I strolled down the tranquil shore, I felt peace. I breathed deeply.

No playful entertainers or tourists crowded the beach. While fishermen’s boats bobbed on the crystal-clear water–which slid toward my feet like thin mercury under the burgeoning daylight–I soaked up the newness, the stillness of the morning. As the clouds drifted across the sky, I reveled in the sun’s breathtaking premiere. I witnessed this quiet rebirth of energy in awe.

How wonderful it is that we are gifted with a new day! How powerful and humbling it is to know that no matter what has happened the day before, the sun will continue to rise. The dawn will break, the waves will crash, the light will burst through the darkness. The new will come, and it’s up to us to embrace it.

As I enter my 26th year on this planet today, I feel incredibly grateful to see new moments. I feel happy that any intense pain I’ve ever felt no longer drains me–pain doesn’t last. I’ve even begun an internship for a cause I’m passionate about–humanism–and growing every minute with self-knowledge. The old is not forgotten, but the new deserves its honor.

Although I don’t know how much time I have under this sun, I know that the moment I’m living in is mine, and it’s worthwhile. And I also know that every single second of my life is an opportunity for newness: a new attitude, a new goal, a new smile. The past doesn’t have to confine me. Just as the sun rises with glorious newness, so can I. So can we all.

Regroup, Refresh, Rebalance

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Have you ever felt tired, drained, irritated for no reason? As if you had no clue what you were doing and why you were doing it?

That’s how I’ve been feeling.

I feel as if something is missing. What it is, I cannot point to. I just know that something seems off-balance. Maybe I’m having too much fun. Maybe I’m eating too much frozen yogurt and drinking too many ginger ales. A cutthroat professor? A phony death? Maybe I gambled too much in Vegas. Whatever it is, I’ve got to do something.

Now is a good time for me to inject something fresh into my life. Yoga? Meditation? I thought about visiting a Buddhist temple a few weeks ago, so perhaps I should look for one nearby. Or maybe I should attend an open mic or sing karaoke or go hiking.

I don’t have to stop there. I just have to get myself back in order.