I recently made a decision.
I decided instead of “thinking” about being more mindful, calm, loving and filled with equanimity, and reading about it… I’d start BEing it.
I decided to take myself on a year long journey of exploration, and self discovery. I had already started practicing mindfulness, and found it shifted just about everything, so layering a deeper exploration of things on top of a mindfulness practice seemed perfect!
For this journey I made two commitments to myself.
I committed to:
1. Meditating Daily.
2. Being open to the resources/ideas/people that just “showed up”.
Almost immediately after making this commitment an idea popped into my head. (which meant I had to listen… because I committed to doing just that!).
I can quickly go from a reasonable, friendly, understanding tone of voice, to a tone that is, well, yeah, pretty much the opposite of that, in no time flat. In fact, I am a yeller. Who feels insanely guilty after the fact, but nonetheless yells anyway when I’m overwhelmed, out of ideas, frustrated, and feel like I need to get what I want, especially with my kiddo.
So after making the decision to go on this epic journey of self discovery and change for the next year, this behavior was the first thing I decided to add to my mindfulness practice.
When this thought just popped out of nowhere… I knew I was on the right track.
The thought was…
What if I just use a loving tone of voice whenever I talk to people? What difference would that make?
From this thought this new mantra came to me.
I started trying it on a couple days ago… whenever I would get frustrated, or interrupted, or agitated… I said to myself, before I could open my mouth…
In a loving, kind, compassionate tone (this counts when I’m talking to myself too you know!)
I did my best to remain mindful of my tone, and to think before I spoke… and sometimes I managed it very well… and sometimes I didn’t.
Last night my poor kid couldn’t sleep. She’d run into a classmate earlier in the day who told her scary stories of ghosts and haunting, and she was terrified. She couldn’t get to sleep and finally crashed out around 11pm.
I knew this morning was going to be a problem. It’s Monday, we’re on a schedule, and now she’s sleep deprived.
I looked at the clock after my shower, and saw it was after 7… that’s the time she really needs to be downstairs. I called to her upstairs and got no response.
I headed up the stairs, and my mind started repeating the new mantra…
Loving voice. Loving Voice. Loving voice.
I opened her door to see her still in bed, covers over her head, and could tell she was in no way going to get out of bed easily.
I knew how I would normally react in this situation… issue a mandate and then pester, cajole, and finally yell until it was followed.
Today, with loving voice in my heart I took a different direction.
I started picking out some clothes for her to wear, while saying good morning, and encouraging her to get out of bed.
Which was met with “I’m not going to school. I’m not!”
I climbed up on her bed, and scooped her up onto my lap. I talked to her in a soft loving voices. I ignored more snarky “I’m not going to school” comments and rocked her a little and kissed the top of her head.
Suddenly an idea came to me…
While rocking her I asked if she wanted to take one of my special rocks to school with her today. (I keep a fairly extensive selection of different types of crystals… many of which are small enough to fit in a pocket). I told her she could pick the one she wanted, and keep it in her pocket all day to give her a little extra energy, and umph that she would need to get through the day.
She perked up, a little, and thought about it. I asked again if she wanted to do that… and finally got a little nod.
I gently said… “Super, you get dressed while I go get some and then you can choose which one you want”.
By the time I got back to her room, she’d already started getting dressed and was looking a little more enthusiastic about starting the day.
She picked her rock (a Herkimer Diamond, if you’re interested), and stuck it in her pocket and we headed downstairs.
We made it through the rest of the morning with no big problems, and got in the car on time.
This morning could have been a complete and utter nightmare. We both could have been crying by the time we got out the door… but today, because I had a mantra to fall back on, I had the idea of loving voice, already in my head… it ended up going really well.
Will this work tomorrow morning? Or this afternoon when we’re doing homework? Who knows… but with tools in hand it can be easier to try new things, and explore different ways of handling situations.
I find when I just “knee-jerk” my way through my interactions with my kiddo… do the things I’ve always done, I end up getting the same reaction, and interaction… and it usually doesn’t feel good.
So today, I will stick my mantra, for this mom who yells, and really wants to stop, in my pocket and take it with me into the world.
What about you… do you have a mantra that helps you see things in a new light, keep you on the path, or help with your practice? If you do I’d love to hear it… feel free to share your favorite mantra in the comments!
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