With my first full marathon coming up, I’ve been including one day of spiritual meditation in my training routine. It’s been falling on day seven of my weekly training cycle (rest day), right after my long run of the week. Through my meditation classes, I’ve started hearing this idea of establishing a personal mantra that I can use during training to push myself and reach my full potential. So it got me thinking. What exactly is a mantra and how am I supposed to use it?
Let’s start with the basics. What IS a mantra?
Mantra: A word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation; a statement or slogan repeated frequently.
The word mantra can be broken down into two parts: “man,” which means mind, and “tra,” which means transport or vehicle. In other words, a mantra is an instrument of the mind—can’t we all use that?
Mantra as a Tool for Anxiety
Through my meditation practice, I’ve learned that a personal mantra can be used as a tool to pull me out of a tough spot in a run. Repeating positive words in this way teach my mind to adjust its thinking. The more I use my mantra, the more my body learns that the tough parts of a run are tough; but that they don’t last forever, and the pain eventually passes. My mantra helps give me the confidence and strength to fight through the hard parts.
So then I started thinking, why not use my mantra for a tool to combat my anxiety too? There are times my anxiety debilitates me. I feel as though I can’t complete basic tasks because my mind is racing. The negative thoughts start literally taking over my mind and controlling me. Wouldn’t it be great to have a mantra to “transport” my mind from this place of anxiousness to a place of power and control? If my mantra can get me through a 20-mile run, surely it should be able to snap me into a place of positive thinking.
Creating a Personal Mantra
A mantra is based on personal experiences and holds power in helping us reach our goals and desires. Mantras can be one power word, or a few words, or even a full sentence.
I first started thinking about words and phrases that motivated me during my meditation sessions and especially during my runs. I have a few power words that I’ve always used to push through hard parts of a run. However, when I really wanted to use my mantra as a tool to transform my mind, I turned to journaling. I started journaling about my goals, which included finishing my first full marathon and finding peace during anxious times. I wrote for about half an hour, just freely letting my thoughts hit the page. When I was finished, I looked at my writing and started to turn my thoughts and emotions into a declarative statement, aka my mantra.
Using My Mantra for Strength
My Mantra, Equipped Mother Runner, might sound simple, but it actually has a lot of meaning below the surface.
Equipped: God has designed my body to feel pain, get through it, and then overcome it. I pulled this word from my favorite bible verse: “I can do all things through God who gives strengthens me.” – Phil 4:13
Mother: I’ve always used my two sons’ names as power words throughout my runs. I’d run through a brick wall to get to them if I had to. So sometimes when I feel like I can’t go any further, I think about running straight to them. This word also reminds me of the amazing ways my body changed to make me a mama, and if my body can do that, it can do anything.
Runner: Declaring it! I spend about 10 minutes on rest day meditating on my mantra, and of course, I repeat it during those hard runs. And lately, I’m starting to visualize it when my anxiety flares up too. If I can use this mantra through push through runs, I can use it to push through anxiousness too.
So SIR – let’s do it! I’m challenging us as a group to each come up with our own personal mantras to power us through not only our next runs but mental illness flare-ups or whatever else life throws at us. Share your mantras in the comments!