What's a mantra, you may ask?
Well I'm not going the wikipedia route here, though you certainly may, if you wish, to check my definition. Here's the story. I was first introduced to the concept in 1970 when the University of Tennessee campus was visited by a representative from the Maharishi Mahish Yogi. I was with my first wife then, having been hitched up at the age of 19, and after purifying our bodies of alcohol, drugs, and other contaminants for two weeks, we met this person at a hotel in downtown Knoxville, presented a handkerchief and a fruit offering according to instructions, and spent, individually, an hour or so being introduced to the practice of Transcendental Meditation. I practiced this for a year or so until I left it off in the pursuit of other enlightenments. I think, actually, that it was becoming socially difficult for me to remain pure in that way, and perhaps that I was afraid of becoming just as "realized" as I felt I was becoming. It scared me.
Anyway, during that initiation, I was given my very first mantra, an utterable sound that I was told was mine and mine alone. I was cautioned that I should never share it with anyone and led in a very very practiced way to take it from audibly perceivable to internally mine. Here it is: "aieng." I can still see that wizened, long gray bearded, dark-skinned guru as he spoke it, and I repeated it, and he repeated me repeating it, and so on, as he guided it with repetition of diminishing volume and emphasis until I was repeating it silently within my mind. At some point he gently guided me out of my silent self-immersion and back into the world. My mantra had been planted. My wife was next, and I sat peacefully in the front room of the small hotel suite knowing she was receiving her own mantra from this learned, wise, and graceful guru in the back room, just as I had.
Years later, after she had left me for a bank vice president and I revisited the house that we had bought in Knoxville, Tennessee for what remained of my possessions, we mentioned that time and spoke aloud our mantras. Hers was, in retrospect not surprisingly, identical to mine.
That her mantra was also mine did not contaminate my mantra for me. It has come in handy many times, and when I could not sleep or felt unsettled in the world, I have oftened returned to meditation and to that mantra. I have also done some reading about different forms of meditation, and understanding that mantras could be real, actual words led me to create a new mantra. It is this one that I want to share with you today.
These days, when I find myself distracted by grief over lost ones, or worried about young ones, or somehow I feel I just need to find my lost center, I repeat, inside, never aloud, my new mantra. It's simple:
I am good I am well I am happy I am healthy I am whole
over and over again until I find myself--well, feeling more good, well, happy, healthy, and whole.
It works for me. Maybe it will for you. I share it for that reason. You can read more about Transcendental Meditation at tm.org. And that wikipedia article I promised not to cite is really a pretty good read. I lied. Namaste.