Why Study This Mantra...You will learn how to learn about yourself. You will realize which of your attributes you prize the most, and how you prefer to use them in the world.
Clichéd, but true. It all starts with knowing yourself. True contentment lies in figuring out who your soul wants you to be, and then aligning that with what you think, say, and do in your everyday life.
That's why, in the coming months, you'll be working toward this goal. For now, you'll focus on learning how to listen to yourself. That alone is a lifelong process. But let's get comfortable enough with this daily practice now so you're well-positioned to hit the ground running later.
In this month's challenge, you'll also do some preliminary work around your basic personality. You will also be introduced to journaling; this month focusing on what drives you, and how you think about things. Journaling is an extremely healthy practice in and of itself, and so you’ll return to it in future months.
Before you begin...
Before you start these practices and challenges, take a moment to rate yourself on this mantra. Give yourself a score from 1-10 (10 being the highest).
Do this again at the end of a month of practices and challenges. How much have you grown?
As I put on this mantra this morning, and throughout the day when I notice my mantra, I will take 2-3 minutes to relax in my body. I will stop what I'm doing and stand or sit comfortably. I will take slow, deep breaths. Straighten my posture by pulling an imaginary thread on the top of my head. I will drop my shoulder blades toward my back pockets. Let my belly go. I will find stress points or places where I am tense and I will relax them. Feel where I'm hot and cold. Feel my heartbeat.
This exercise is to get to know my body, and learn to listen for it. Throughout the day, as I become tense, nervous, or angry, I will stop and feel where that lands in my body. My body will eventually inform me of my tendencies, and I'll be more proactive and controlling of my behavior.
Take a Free Personality Test
Go to https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/personality-quiz/ and take a free personality test. It only takes a few minutes, and you'll love learning the results about your strengths and weaknesses, your relationships, career paths, and habits. Print out your results and save them somewhere. Trust us, this is going to come in handy later.
Assess My Work and Life Views
This month, you will only write in your journal one time. In later months, you’ll write more frequently. For now, get out your journal and write this down. You don’t need to spend more than 10-15 minutes on it. You'll be asked to revisit this in later months as well.
- Work View: Why work? What does work mean for me? How does it relate to me vs. society? What defines good or worthwhile work? What do experience, growth, and fulfillment have to do with it?
- Life View: Why are we here? What's the meaning or purpose of life? Where do family, country, and the world fit in? What is good and evil? Is there a higher power or something transcendent, and if so, what is its impact? What is the role of joy/sorrow, justice/injustice, love, peace, and strife in life?
A compass is an instrument for helping you figure out in which direction you need to head. That’s what this mantra is all about – beginning this practice of establishing your life compass. In short, knowing yourself. Or as we’ll refer to it going forward, self-awareness.
This month is only the beginning, but determining this will eventually help you make clearer decisions, be more confident, feel more independent, and ultimately, love yourself more.
The term somatics was first coined by Thomas Hanna in 1970 to describe using movement and relaxation to increase bodily awareness. That may make it a fairly new invention, but it greatly draws its practices from Eastern philosophy and healing practices, including tai chi and qi gong.1
50 years later, somatics in the west is more popular than ever. Somatic therapy and somatic psychotherapy are used to address the physical effects of trauma and anxiety, including muscle tension, digestive problems, trouble sleeping, chronic pain, and respiratory problems.1
In a 2017 study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, it was shown that increasing awareness of your posture and movements may reduce unwanted emotions and promote a more positive emotional experience.2 According to a 2016 study, somatics can reduce chronic pain.3
But you don’t need to experience chronic pain to get value out of somatics. Somatics is simply a way to better connect the mind and the body, allowing for you to be more informed about your emotional state and ultimately give you more control over how you react to it.
Journaling is immensely valuable. You would be hard-pressed to find someone in the field who disagrees with that statement. Studies have found journaling to be valuable in all sorts of ways, including reducing depression and anxiety4, improving overall immune function and reducing your risk of illness5, helping cultivate gratitude, and improving memory function6.
While all of the above benefits are fantastic, perhaps the most important reason to journal regularly is simply to give yourself a chance to reflect back on your life and your decisions on a regular basis. Doing so is crucial to living a mindful life.
Work View and Life View
The exercise of thinking through your work and life views is meant to round out the establishing of your compass. Before you can move forward into more satisfying work and/or life roles, you must first establish your own baseline. These prompts are intended to do just that.
The relaxation daily practice in this mantra is just the beginning. If you’re intrigued about somatics and wish to learn more, check out the many resources available from Strozzi Institute, a leading provider of somatic training. While there are many great directions to go for somatics education, Strozzi’s focus on somatics for self growth and leadership makes them our choice. https://strozziinstitute.com/resources/
- Raypole, C. “A Brief Intro to the World of Somatics.” Healthline, Nov. 2020. https://www.healthline.com/health/somatics#somatic-therapy.
- Tsachor RP, Shafir T. A Somatic Movement Approach to Fostering Emotional Resiliency through Laban Movement Analysis. Front Hum Neurosci. 2017 Sep 7;11:410. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00410. PMID: 28936167; PMCID: PMC5594083. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5594083/
- Paolucci T, Zangrando F, Iosa M, De Angelis S, Marzoli C, Piccinini G, Saraceni VM. Improved interoceptive awareness in chronic low back pain: a comparison of Back school versus Feldenkrais method. Disabil Rehabil. 2017 May;39(10):994-1001. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2016.1175035. Epub 2016 May 23. PMID: 27215948. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27215948/
- Hasanzadeh P, Fallahi Khoshknab M, Norozi K. Impacts of Journaling on Anxiety and stress in Multiple Sclerosis patients. cmja 2012; 2 (2) :183-193. http://cmja.arakmu.ac.ir/article-1-21-en.html
- Baikie, K., & Wilhelm, K. (2005). Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 11(5), 338-346. doi:10.1192/apt.11.5.338 https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/advances-in-psychiatric-treatment/article/emotional-and-physical-health-benefits-of-expressive-writing/ED2976A61F5DE56B46F07A1CE9EA9F9F#
- Willis, J. “The Brain-Based Benefits of Writing for Math and Science Learning.” Edutopia, Jul. 2011. https://www.edutopia.org/blog/writing-executive-function-brain-research-judy-willis