I re-discovered my own personal strength last week on my flight to DR for vacation. I had to fly alone…YIKES! I am not a fan of airplanes or heights, so the idea of flying alone brings certain anxiety. However, I have never backed down from this fear before (i.e. my bicycle ride across the Golden Gate bridge!). The more thought I give to the experience, the worse off I am (stomach ache, overheating, palpitations, dizziness- oh yes- it has gotten that bad). It’s like Nike says, “Just Do It”. It was somewhere between the shuttle to the airport and airport security that the mantra came to me…”I am strong, I am strong enough”.
Mantra, sometimes defined as a word that liberates the one who repeats it, is considered the purest form of speech, and certain mantras can provide an instant connection to higher levels of reality.
Sally Kempton, Yoga Journal
Mantras are typically recited in the the 3 most powerfully vibrational languages- Sanskrit, Arabic, and Hebrew. However all words create vibrations, shifting the energy around us, and are incredibly powerful tools for cleansing and change. My mantra carried me through 3 hours of delays, finally boarding the plane, take off, in flight turbulence, and landing (the whole plane erupted into applause upon landing- I found it to be a great way to release nervous energy!). I also observed that by being alone, I really had no choice but to handle the situation I was in. With no one to banter with about how nervous I was, all I could do was repeat my mantra, “I am strong, I am strong enough.”
I’ve been teaching this mantra in my yoga classes this week, and I discovered a beautiful mudra or “seal” (hand gestures which are performed to convey a variety of feelings, expressions and meanings) that goes along well with the theme of re-discovering personal strength.
Shivalinga mudra- the mudra of resilience: cup your left hand, with fingers pressed together, in front of your abdomen- palm face up, creating a mortar. Make a “thumbs up” sign with your right hand, creating the pestle, and place it on top of your left hand. Bring to mind something that tries your resilience or tests your strength, placing it mentally into your left hand. Slowly circle your right hand as if grinding the thought in your mortar and pestle. Then blow away the “dust” left over in your left hand. This mudra breaks down negativity and increases resilience.
(Note: This is just one way to perform this mudra)
The definition of re·sil·ience (merriam-webster dictionary):
- the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress
- an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change
So, when we are stressed or encountering misfortune and change in our lives, our resilience is how well we recover and adjust. Challenges will surely come and we often don’t know our own strength, until we are tested. The yoga practice gives us the opportunity to develop resilience and strength, both physically and mentally. It is a safe and supportive “training ground” where you learn to trust your instincts and have faith in something greater than yourself. Plus, you get to practice magical mudras and mantras which have incredible power!
Another mudra I love to teach and practice is Ganesha mudra for overcoming obstacles. I discovered this mudra during my teacher training- Hold your left hand in front of your chest, palm facing out and bend the fingers. Place your right hand in front of the left hand, palm facing in and grip the fingers together, locking them. On the exhale, pull the fingers apart, without actually releasing them. On inhale, relax. Repeat for 6 breaths.
My fear of flying is just a small example of how I perpetually re-learn what I am capable of. I have many things that make me nervous, anxious, or scared. Maybe someday my fear will dissolve (I wish!), but until then, I will keep allowing myself to be tested. It is ALWAYS worth it! We may be tempted to doubt or question our abilities in life. We may have fears, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. Just know that when tests come, you will likely surprise yourself- handling with grace much more than you thought you could!
“You are strong, you are strong enough”