I used to be a big time worrier. I would worry about everything: big, small or miniscule. From saying the “wrong” thing to the supermarket clerk to getting in trouble for some future mistake I hadn’t even made yet.
Worry consumed my mind most of the time. It was the biggest distraction I used to avoid my feelings and being in the present moment.
It disrupted my thoughts, goals, sleep, and conversations. I was always looking for assurance from others that my worries were not warranted.
It took a lot of practice and concentrated effort for me to beat it.
And it still creeps in like a lost friend sometimes.
Mostly in the middle of the night when all I desperately want is to get back to sleep.
Do you know the feeling?
If you are a client of mine, you know there are different techniques I use to combat worry: from recognizing feelings and needs to direct thought replacement.
The tool that works best for me for the middle of the night mind swirl is a mantra.
I still feel a little weird inside when I hear the word mantra. The image I get in my mind is a combination between a yogi sitting in full concentration (which I am not) and a Saturday night live skit making fun of a self-help guru.
But I put my hesitation aside because it works.
For the last three years that I have been doing this work my sleep has been better than it has been in my entire life.
But last night I found myself in a half sleep state mixed with worry and exhaustion. My body wanted desperately to sleep but my mind was creating all kinds of worry and doomsday scenarios to focus on. I found myself caught in it, but then I remembered the power of mantra.
I took a deep breath and repeated a phrase that was calming and empowering at the same time. I breathed in during the first half and breathed out during the second half.
I did this exactly three times and was back in a deep sleep.
Mantras are powerful. They help you stop the frantic thought wheel and reset your mind as well as calm your body.
They can be used at any time or in any situation: from a meeting at work to a family gathering. The only thing holding you back from trying it is your doubt and has that ever allowed you to sleep?
If the word mantra makes you feel a little resistant then call it something else. We talk babies to sleep with lullabies, so it’s really not that foreign of a concept. Give it your own name and pick phrases that are comforting and will make you feel good.
You can start by recognizing what worrying thoughts are causing the mind swirl and creating new words to turn them around.
I was having health concerns that crept into my head and were keeping me up at night. My mantra became I can create health for myself by giving my body all the rest and peace it needs. Those simple and sweet words worked instantly.
There’s no harm in trying! And I’d love to hear what works for you!