Painting is meditation for me.
I breathe slowly. I can almost feel the paper through my paintbrush. Time slows down. All that matters are the colours, the water, and the rhythmic strokes of my brush.
Each brush stroke is a mantra.
A mantra is something, usually a word or phrase, that is repeated and that expresses one's basic beliefs.
I believe a brush-stroke can be a mantra, too, as it expresses silence, and colour, and light, and our connection to the force of continuous creation.
My mantras change every day. Sometimes the brush-strokes are enough. Sometimes tap-tapping on the keyboard in a silent room is enough.
But sometimes I need something more concrete to cling to when I'm being buffeted by the winds of the world.
Here are two mantras that are getting me through the day right now.
ALL SHALL BE WELL
This has been a steady mantra for me for years. It repeats itself quietly in my subconscious without me noticing, and then not so quietly in my conscious when I need the support.
Tough day with a toddler? All shall be well. Mountains of unfolded laundry? All shall be well. Another polite rejection letter? All shall be well. Feeling lost in life? All manner of things shall be well.
All I have to do is put one foot in front of the other, faithfully, and repeat the phrase: all shall be well.
I repeat this over and over when I'm feeling out of synch with where I am in life. It could be my home. It could be my work. It could be my body (sometimes I don't feel at home in that, either). I repeat "belonging" quietly under my breath and visualize everything in my life being at home, or wherever it belongs.
Let my illustrations find a home. Let my stories find a home. Help me to feel at home wherever I am.
This is as much an exhortation to inhale and exhale as it is a mantra. I find that when days get difficult or complicated I hold my breath; or I gasp; or I sigh; or I exhale sharply in annoyance.
Sometimes I pause in the middle of "the hard thing" and remind myself to breathe. When I inhale, deeply, I can feel the muscles in my upper back and shoulders expanding, and when I exhale they loosen and relax.
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
I tell myself.
With breath comes
. After all the word "inspire" means "to breathe in."
Whether my mantra is a brush-stroke or a phrase or a breath, it always makes me feel refreshed and ready to face anything.
Do you have a mantra that speaks to you?
All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.
St. Julian of Norwich (1342-1416)