I got a very interesting, evocative response to my post, “Week 2: Compassion, Forgiveness Dialogue — We be Lotus” http://wp.me/p21f5h-ta (on Alternate Economy), http://wp.me/p1zocx-1lD (on MindMindful). I was writing about the use of affirmations & mantras to quell negative thoughts we so often have about ourselves. Anita S, who blogs at Bipolar Dance …… coming to you from the edge of surreality, said she also has used affirmations “to counteract my self-hateful thoughts”, but has not used mantras before. Then, she goes on to speculate:
the mantras have a potential to have a much greater effect because an affirmation often brings about argument in my head; for example “I’m fat and ugly… I have a strong and healthy body… no I’m terribly out of shape… My body fulfills my needs… yeah but it’s a really sucky body, people must cringe when they see me…” and so on. A mantra, however, is not a head-on contradiction of a negative thought, so it may not stir up that critical, argumentative part of me. (Italics mine)
I think this is a very perceptive insight, & may be the reason I moved to using mantras far more than affirmations, myself. Chanting mantras completely bypasses that part of my/our minds that wants to fight over being “right”. This part of MY mind, that earnest, adversarial ego, is often very willingly engaged — it, that is: I, sometimes just wants to hang on to an idea, & fight over who is right & who is wrong, til finally the ‘other side’ is willing to give up, exhausted. Alas, this tendency — while perhaps useful in a lawyer — has caused me SO much trouble over the years!! The way scorched earth warfare causes trouble. And I’ve worked hard, for a long time, to temper this habit, & to let it out only when it’s really useful. The process has been much like stopping the bulls running at Pamplona: not very easy, & not very successful. This tendency in myself began to be far less knee-jerk, & much less easily set off, when I began diligently working with mantras.
I wanted to get rid of, to completely eradicate, this argumentative aspect of my mind. I always saw it as “not good”, & hated it. But, as I write this (which so often happens!!), I am realizing that there is another way to see this combative side of my mind: It has been, & is still, a powerful motivator toward quieting my mind, learning to pause before responding ………. &, perhaps most importantly, letting many things just go by, without engaging adversarily. It has been a major factor in my journey toward a more mindful way of being. So — turning my “battle” with this aspect of mind around, I am now seeing it THIS way: I can forgive myself for its excesses, while resolving to keep it pacified. I can now be grateful for it, because it has led me to the ability to create more peace in the world.
- Week 2: Compassion, Forgiveness Dialogue – We be Lotus (alternateeconomy.wordpress.com)
- How Mantra Meditation Improves Quality of Life? (moulsinc.com)
- Om mani padme hum. (mysticword.wordpress.com)