The following excerpts are from an interview with Brava Magazine. Complete transcripts are available on-line at bravamagazine.com.
My personal mantras or techniques that help me stay calm and focused:
When I am faced with a challenging or difficult situation, something that activates or hooks me, the most important thing I can do is:
1. Notice that I’m being activated. Between the stimulus and the response is a space – and in that space is the potential for your freedom and power. True spiritual practices are all about the development of how to use that space. Most people are caught in a perpetual cycle of reaction, where there is no space between the stimulus and the response.
2. Once I notice that I’ve been activated, I move my awareness into my body and energy field. I breathe deeply, consciously and deliberately. I connect down to my Center Below, 24” below the soles of my feet and breathe from that center, until I feel grounded and stabilized. Then I connect to my Center Above, 24” above the top of my head and breathe from that center until I feel more open to my own higher wisdom. This energetic alignment allows me to more easily frame the situation, be detached from it, not push against or resist it, and to respond from my center.
3. Once I have centered myself, I can focus on a word that will help me to strengthen that alignment, such as Breathe, Center, Ground, Open, Allow. Whatever I’m experiencing right now is okay. There is nothing for me to push against. I can just breathe and find my center in the midst of the chaos. I can’t control other people or the environment around me but I can control my response to it, how I interact with it.
The more that I practice this every day, the easier it is to access it during times of emotional upheaval and stress.
This is just one energy practice that you can use, but it’s one that I teach a lot because it is quite effective at combining focus, breath, awareness and the actual circuitry of your electromagnetic field to create energetic alignment.
Do I pair a mantra with anything? Yoga, breathing, meditation, visualization?
You can pair a mantra with anything as long as you are in alignment with what you are pairing it with. Don’t try to split your energy into too many different places or you will just diffuse your efforts. Mantras are similar to affirmations in that they are about focusing the mind into a desired state of reality. It takes practice to develop focus, and I recommend that you focus on one thing at a time until you feel completely at one with whatever you are focusing on.
You can exhale deeply and deliberately with the mantra release; and inhale deeply and deliberately with the mantra receive. That is a simple and wonderful way to combine mantra and breath. You can visualize yourself releasing stress as you exhale and receiving healing light as you inhale. Those practices together are a meditation, and could be thought of as part of a yoga practice. Yoga is obviously a very comprehensive field of study.
How often do I do this?
I find time to meditate every day, preferably in the morning. It’s a wonderful way to begin the day. Finding time in every day to connect with Presence, with Inner Being, with the Greater Reality is essential for developing self-awareness and inner peace. Otherwise you’re just going to feel bombarded by life, in an endless chaotic loop where you never feel caught up or able to truly relax and let go.
What about helping kids find a mantra/calming technique for keeping their cool?
Kids have a natural ability to be in the moment and use their bodies and their voices to express their emotion. With kids, it’s helpful to direct them to just feel what they feel, and try to put words to it, to connect their bodies and their feelings to words.
If a child is upset, have her close her eyes and feel the upset. Ask her where in her body does she feel upset? Is it in her stomach? And then just have her feel her upset in her stomach, just be present with it, acknowledge it, claim it. In that way she is allowing her experience without judgment. It’s when we judge, resist or make wrong what we feel that we get in trouble and disallow the natural flow of life.
All children just want two things: to be seen and to be loved. Kids are so much more honest about what they feel and think – they are far more authentic than adults. Most adults have lost connection to inner authenticity in order to be liked, accepted or not to rock the boat.
Do I have any tips for creating a personal mantra or finding peace?
I always advise my clients to start by genuinely accepting where you are right now, with whatever the circumstances are in your life. We need to make peace with what is right in front of us before anything can change. Most people when faced with something uncomfortable or unpleasant try to ignore it, hide it, deny it, run away from it, blame it or make it wrong. True peace comes first from acceptance. Once you accept the reality of what is, that allows the space for something else to occur.
Any other words of wisdom?
Practice! Set yourself up to succeed by scheduling yourself first. Participate in classes devoted to Presence and Self-Awareness. Schedule time in every day to connect to your breath, tend to your body, manage your thought and emotion. Feel your feelings. Prayer is talking to the Divine; meditation is listening to the Divine. The best relationships are those that are nurtured with care and time, and the most important relationship you have is to yourself and your inner reality. Your entire outer life springs from that. The benefits of a practice such as this are magnificent and evident immediately. Once you have experienced that way of life there’s no turning back!