Quick summary – I have long been an avid runner (my dog appreciates this the most). The activity balances my neurology, keeps me in shape, gets me outside, and naturally helps anxiety and stress. Sometimes when I run (or exercise in general) I find it hard to let go of negative thinking – politics, work, a disagreement, things I should do etc. – I have found that if I add positive words to the rhythm of my breathing pattern I can become more aware of the present moment and my present setting. Every breath in (and every breath out) is one rhythmic syllable. Ex. – breath in, breath in, breath out (hu hu haaah) is three syllables – (you could say – I am kind… I hold love… now is nice etc).
The techniques that I am going to describe can be used in any activity or exercise (as we breathe in every activity and you can always find a rhythm to that breathing).
Mantras have lots of different uses and meanings in many different cultures. When looking up what I call a mantra – I found that I use the term somewhat loosely – though mantras have a spiritual effect on me I am not using mantras with a spiritual intention as is very common in certain settings; to some mantras are much like prayers.
I use mantras to help myself to enter a state of mindfulness (I will write a blog about this).
Mindfulness (in short) is when your attention is on the present moment so that you are almost hyper-aware of you setting, your body’s response to the setting, and the setting’s response to you… while also releasing yourself from judgment.
When someone is in a state of mindfulness they free themselves of their mind’s preoccupation with the past and the future.
I learned about mantras in my studies of mindfulness and specifically from the book “Walking Meditation” by Nguyen Anh-Huong and Thich Nhat Hanh – this is my favorite book concerning mindfulness or being in the present moment – it is very easy to read, it is experiential, it is poetic, it is short, and it is easier to understand than some more philosophically based texts that I have enjoyed. I very much enjoy the walking meditation that is described in this book and I have adapted it to running (though you cannot enjoy all the gifts from walking meditation if you are running).
The techniques are as simple as I described in the summary – every breath in is a syllable and every breath out is a syllable.
I use three types of mantras. All three types also serve the function of giving my mind something to do so that I can be present instead of ruminating about things. All the mantras I use follow my rhythmic breathing.
For all of my examples ‘hu’ signifies a breath in (one syllable) and ‘haah’ signifies one breath out (again, one syllable). hu hu haah = 3 syllables.
Positive psychology based mantra – the belief that positive thoughts create a positive disposition or a positive emotional state (many also believe that positive thinking creates a more positive reality all together.)
- ex. – hu hu ha – “I have love” or hu hu haah haah – “I am hap-py”
Focus on my setting mantra – For this Mantra I will call out thing in my setting so that I focus more clearly on subtle details that I might have missed if I was in my head… I will focus on a dewdrop, my dog’s smile, the subtle green in the horizon etc.
- ex. – hu hu haah – “smi-ling dog” or “rain dew-drop”. Hu hu hu haaaah – “I see green cloud”
Love and kindness mantra – For this mantra my intention is to offer positivity to my surroundings (people and things).
- ex. – hu hu haah – “peace to you” or “I send love.” huuu haaah – “love you”
I generally connect my mantras. Here are some of my favorites –
hu hu haah… hu hu haah. (6 total syllables – 4 breaths in and 2 breaths out)
– I am love… I am now
– I see tree… love to tree
– for that man… kind and peace
hu hu haah haah… hu hu haah (7 total syllables – 4 breaths in and 3 breaths out)
– I have kind-ness… peace and joy
– to the fami-ly…hap-py-ness
– I see foot-prints… on the ground
I rarely listen to music anymore when I run as I find that the healing powers of exercise are enhanced when I do my mantras. I realize that this might seem different for some people but try it and notice its’ effect on – people around you, your attention to the beauty of the moment, and your emotional disposition.