“’We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet. ‘Even longer,’ Pooh answered.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
My God and My All. These are the prayer words of St. Francis of Assisi, and I have been turning to them for comfort and support for more than twenty years. These words are my Sacred Mantra. As I explain in my book The Practice and here on my website, the Sacred Mantra is “a word, phrase, verse, or prayer with a long history of use that is hallowed or considered holy by the tradition or culture from which it originated, which you have personally chosen for your use.”
I have been using my Sacred Mantra for so long now that I consider it my sacred friend. I have experienced and enjoyed the many benefits of having this tool—this friend—by my side and in my heart. My Sacred Mantra helps me put my stress in perspective, quiets down my mental chatter, helps me to gain clarity of thought, and brings me back to the present moment when my mind wanders to the past or future!
When I discuss the Sacred Mantra in my workshops, I often talk about using it during times of uncertainty, fear, worry, and stress. In the beginning, it takes a lot of practice to train the mind to turn toward the mantra rather than to the worrisome or agitating thoughts that do not get us anywhere. I always say, “If worrying worked, then keep doing it.” But we know it doesn’t. What does work is the Sacred Mantra.
When the mind becomes accustomed to turning to the mantra, we move more easily throughout our day with more patience, compassion, strength, and love. It is as if a good friend is holding our hand and showing us the way!
The Sacred Mantra keeps us present in the moment, giving us an opportunity to really be aware of our actions and interactions with others. It gives us greater control over how we respond to life—because, frankly, that is where we really are in control. Think of this tool as a “thought interceptor”; when your mind starts down a negative, fearful path, start repeating your Sacred Mantra silently to yourself to bring your mind back to the moment, back to the place of reality and choice.
When you use your Sacred Mantra day after day, it becomes rooted within—a part of your being. So not only does it help me during times of worry and stress, it also comes to me in times of joy. One of these occasions, as I describe in my book, was my daughter’s graduation from college. I felt such incredible happiness to see her reach this amazing accomplishment in her life, and suddenly, there was my Sacred Mantra, like a chorus resounding within me! My smile could not have been brighter.
This simple phrase, the deep meaning it holds, and its power are transformational. Mahatma Gandhi called his mantra, Rama, Rama, Rama, “his staff of life.” I urge you to consider choosing a Sacred Mantra for your use and experience the many benefits of this beautiful friend firsthand.