I often read books or listen to podcasts where highly successful people have locked into their inner dialog and have been able to identify a word or phrase that centers them and allows them to find whatever they are searching for. Maybe it is inner peace, motivation, a sense of direction, or simply the ability to find their center of balance. I wanted that and for a while I have been experimenting trying to find a mantra.
I experimented with some of my favorite literary passages, phrases that alluded to my favorite punk songs, lines from TV shows or movies, Sanskrit phrases from meditation texts, and even fun sounding giberish, but it always seemed forced. I promised myself that I would be original but I got frustrated and started stealing mantras that others have used, but to no avail. I went as far to focus on my automatic words in stressful situations so that I could identify what phrases I leaned on as a crutch. Nothing worked and I found myself getting even more frustrated at my inability to accomplish what seemed like a simple goal, and I was almost ready to give it all up. Then one day a few months ago I walked to my car without a hat on and rather than be upset about how cold it was the perfect mantra jumped into my brain and stopped me in my tracks. “I live here now.”
It may sound like nothing to you, but for me it was a lightning bolt that resonated electricity through every cell. It symbolized all my goals and my desires, the sources of my anxieties and my hubris, it gave me ownership of my path and rooted me in the present, four short words spoke volumes. They made everything fall into place, and I have repeated them several times a day every since, because I live here now.
The words might not sound like much to you, and they don’t have to, but they definitely symbolize a lot in my life. Beyond the physical aspect of living in Vermont in November and being cold, it summed up a lot of the decisions that I have made along the way. I am cold because I am in Vermont, I chose to live in Vermont, so I am cold because I chose it. Every decision I have made in the past 31 years have lead me to the point that I am at today in this moment, they have made me who I am right now so I either need to accept it or make a decision to change. No matter what situation I am in, I am in it because of choices I have made, and I need to address the results of these choices because I live here now.
I have long struggled with being present. I deal with a lot of anxiety and am prone to panic attacks and sleepless nights, but I also have a very good memory and spend a lot of time ruminating on the past. Through meditation I have gotten better at finding space for the present, but it has been a huge struggle. This mantra grounds me because it makes me take a moment to pause and center myself. It is a reminder that I am not living in the past or in the future, there is no time to worry about either of those, there is just time to worry about the present, because I live here now.
I am not much of a feelings person, which has caused a lot of problems in my life. Many of my default feelings are negative and I have spent years trying to bottle them up so that they don’t get out. This leads to it’s own challenges and only recently through self improvement practices have I been able to acknowledge certain feelings and try to detach and move on. Having this mantra allows me to realize that I am feeling certain ways, acknowledge their presence and try to move on. It is a small pause that allows me to accept the way I feel and determine the best way to react to the situation. Sometimes by simply taking that break and labeling the emotions they resolve themselves. I can’t be ruled by my negative emotions, because I live here now.
Using a mantra to resolve those emotions helps me to take ownership of how I handle situations. I am feeling nervous because someone is running late, I live here now, and there is no need to stress about the actions of others. My boss just walked in, I live here now, and I am confident in how well I am doing my job. I’m about to get on stage, I live here now, and the work that I have put in to build my abilities will show itself. I get blown off by a woman I was interested in, I live here now, and its ok if she doesn’t want to be a part of my future, plus I get to learn from the experience. My grandmother dies, I live here now, she had a good life and it was her time. I am pissed off at my friends for playing music too loud, I live here now, and I can either make them turn it down or I can leave. A bigot gets sworn in as president, I live here now, I can do my best to support and protect those who are at risk. I really want a doughnut, I live here now, I can either cave in and ruin my diet or I can wait until cheat day.
Life is filled with uncomfortable situations, challenges big and small, and if it were easy then I probably wouldn’t enjoy it anyway. Having a few simple words bouncing through my head and reminding me that everything will be ok makes it so much more worthwhile. Using that reminder and taking those little pauses will help me to become one of those successful people. And even if it doesn’t work out, and this whole essay was for nothing, that is ok.
I live here now.