Two of the most effective people I know talk to themselves. One prepares to leave the house by listing out loud what she needs to take with her; and the other chides and encourages himself, making sure he doesn’t succumb to familiar patterns. It seems unnecessary – even crazy – but it’s a compellingly successful method, and all it takes is for us to turn our thoughts into sound. (Incidentally, the reason we think it’s crazy is because we have been conditioned to think that only crazy people talk to themselves.)
The step from thought to word may seem unimportant or insignificant (especially as I wrote two weeks ago about the power of thought), but the spoken word has a power of its own. Just like writing, which takes things another step further, talking slows down the cognitive process to allow a greater level of awareness. Additionally, the mere sound of the message makes us more alert. When it really matters, increased awareness and alertness come in really handy.
Were we to have a personal coach with us all the time (as Karaj was for much of my training), their constant reminders would eventually recondition us toward a more effective way of life. In lieu of that, we have to do it ourselves. So we talk to ourselves, which is also where mantras come in.
A mantra is a phrase, a word, or just a sound repeated over and over again for the purpose of focusing the mind. The latest Star Wars film, Rogue One, has a beautiful example of a mantra. One of the characters has very little dialogue, but nevertheless has the most powerful lines of the film: ‘I am one with the Force. The Force is with me.’ He is seen chanting it whilst sitting in prison and, later, whilst walking into battle. His sole focus is on internalising and realising the message. I left the cinema repeating it to myself and felt empowered. It works.
Once again, here is a simple method for making life easier. And if you’re unsure what to say to yourself, try repeating this over and over again: ‘It’s all okay. Everything is perfect as it is.’