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I attended my first Qi Gong (pronounced chee-gong) class about four weeks ago. I have no idea why I loved it but I did. I liked how I felt both during the class and afterward. There was just one problem: I wanted to try these movements at home but I could not remember them! I remembered one walking movement that was called the Crane, but could not replicate it. Last week, I attended my second Qi Gong class. This time, we did a walking movement that I was able to remember. Why? The short answer is Huff-Huff-Puff! This describes an inhale (two quick breaths in, through the nose) and exhale (one long breath out, through the mouth) that accompanies hand movements that are still a little fuzzy for me, but I am catching on. A short repetition of sounds or words helped solidify something I was trying to learn. You might even call it an incantation, which is defined as the chanting or ritual recitation of words purporting to have magical power. I don"t know how, nor do I understand why, but "Huff-Huff-Puff" worked some magic on me.
What words might work some magic with you? And how might those words help you solidify some concept, approach or exercise that you want or need to learn or live by?
Some of us rely on tried-and-true mantras such as:
One Day at a Time
Never Say Never
The Best is Yet to Come
Rome Wasn"t Built in a Day
These are great AND I think there may be more joy available to us if we make up our own! At first, it may be something like Huff-Huff-Puff which is shorthand for helping us remember what to do, think or believe. After all, the first time we learned what a Jumping Jack was, we didn"t know what our bodies were supposed to do. Now, you know exactly what to do if someone instructs you to do a couple of Jumping Jacks! Repetition embeds the message or the teaching of a mantra in our memory, and speaking of memory, it needs to be short enough to be remembered with ease!
The Do-It-Yourself Mantra
Pick something that you would like to reinforce with a mantra. It can be an idea, an affirmation, an exercise, an attitude, etc. You may even want to write it out as a paragraph or two. Next, see if a simple phrase (no more than six words) emerges. You want this phrase to be memorable, motivational, and catchy, but not so catchy that it is hard to repeat!
My favorite example of a mantra comes from one of Out on a Limb"s beloved readers. To ward off any tendency to over-dramatize difficult challenges, this woman came up with "It"s Not Life-Threatening." It"s a unique version of "Don"t Sweat the Small Stuff." It conveys multiple paragraphs in just four words.
If you are really at a loss to craft your own mantra, I offer a few more that I have overheard in the past 6 weeks:
To help you surrender to things being out of your control: "I am so not in charge."
To affirm your capability in the face of challenges that feel daunting: "I can do this."
To minimize unproductive belly-aching:
"Shut up, and do your job."
To keep perspective when things go wrong:
for October 2012
Devise your own mantra, and see if it helps you face what challenges you, or if it helps you to learn something. Please feel free to send me a note and share! Let the wisdom multiply.
Your October 2012 Prompts for Joy
Click here for a message that will reinforce the folly of trying to “Keep Up with the Jones’!”
Click here to see a moving demonstration of a decision to live by a mantra of “Get Back Up.”
This month’s Prompts for Joy come courtesy of Ing Direct Bank (!) and Beth Brown. THANKS!
Perhaps this photo inspires a mantra of "Dare to Be Different?" Taken in West Barnstable, Massachusetts.
Do a Daily Dance: Bring on the Joy!
"Do a Daily Dance" is a mantra, too! If you reduce it to just 3 letters, DDD, it"s even easier to remember! Check out my DDD Playlist.
By no means
do I have joy “figured out.” Please do not assume
that I do! I write Out On a Limb as much as a meditation for
myself in the ongoing pursuit of joy, as for you. I think this
pursuit is a lifelong journey and that the full experience
of joy is, at best, episodic. May we all have more episodes!
Martha Clark Scala, MFT · 721 Colorado Ave., Suite 201, Palo Alto, CA 94303 ·