A Cleanse for your Thoughts
The end of the summer season is a good time to start planning for a cleanse. Cleanses can help us to ease the transition from the heat and humidity of summer to the cool, dryness of fall into winter. Seasonal cleanses are performed with the intention of letting go of things we have stored from the last several months so we can move into the next season with a clean slate.
As a mental health therapist, a yoga teacher trainer, a coach, and a human, I have found that a cleanse for the mind can be extremely helpful in dealing with everyday stress. If we are not able to cleanse negative and unhelpful thoughts from our minds, they too, like the doshas, can build up over time and lead us to a place of dis-ease.
In my own life and in all of the roles I hold in guiding others toward greater health, I turn to mantra as a regular practice to cleanse the mind and the thoughts.
While the word is subject to different interpretations, the word mantra is believed to come from the roots Manos meaning ‘mind’ and Tra meaning ‘vehicle’ or ‘that which carries across’. So, I describe a mantra as a “mind train”. When my mind is spinning, I simply place it on a mind train and send it off in the direction that would be more helpful for me.
In mental health therapy, I explain this concept as a way to take a time out from the frantic energy of the mind that contributes to anxiety, fear, panic, and depression. When we can focus completely on repeating a sound, word, or phrase over and over, we leave no room in the mind for worry, criticism, judgment, shame, rumination, etc. that can so frequently become the norm.
A mantra can be a sound, a word, or a phrase that is repeated over and over to help keep the mind focused where we want it. Our thoughts are energy and they create vibration in our bodies and our lives. That vibrations affects our happiness, and our mental, physical health and our ability to cope. When we use mantra to direct our thoughts to more helpful and healthy places, we can change our entire experience of what is happening, our perspective, and our ability to respond in the moment.
When repeating mantra, it can be said out loud, as a whisper, or silently in the mind. It can be practiced any time and any place without anyone even knowing if needed. Mantra is a powerful support that we can lean back on when we feel out of control or when we don’t know where else to turn. It can bring the peace needed to pause and then decide where to go next in our thoughts, words, and actions.
Finding a mantra that feels good and that represents your intention around what you would like to shift is important. We can really use any language that we prefer. Here a some short mantras to consider:
- Just This– This mantra is used with the breath, inhaling and thinking “just”, exhaling and thinking “this”. It is a way to practice mindfulness and to stay in the moment when our minds are fighting to wander out of the body and out of the present. This mantra helps me to stay focused and present when I feel overwhelmed.
- So Hum– This mantra is also used with the breath, inhaling “so” and exhaling “hum”. So Hum can be translated as ‘I am that’ or ‘I am that which I am becoming’. This mantra reminds me that I am in forward motion toward who I want to be and it is all already inside of me, I simply have to tap in to it.
- Om– This mantra is the ultimate default mantra. You can never go wrong with repeating or chanting Om. Om means all the things. It has been defined as the vibration of the universe and all that is. Om is calming and helps me to feel in touch with the power of the universe.
- 2 word intention– This mantra consists of choosing 2 words that would represent something you are wanting to grow in yourself. For example, while writing this blog, I used the words “creative and present”. On the inhale, I repeat “I am creative” and on the exhale, I repeat “I am present” in my mind. This type of mantra helps me to affirm who I am growing in to in each moment.
Consider trying a thought cleanse with mantra. As with other practices, mantra can take time to become automated and we must think of it as an added support rather than an additional task that we must master. Be gentle with yourself as you try on different mantras. Notice how you feel as you are using one and afterwards.
It may be that you find one mantra to stick with for a 40-day practice, or it may be that you use different mantras depending on the situation. However you choose to use mantra, you can begin to experience the power of directing your mind where you want it to go when you want it to go there.
Check in with me and let me know how it is going or if you have a favorite mantra that you are using.