As a kid I spent a week every summer at Phantom Lake YMCA Camp in Mukwonago, Wisconsin. As anyone who has been to summer camp well knows, it can be a magical and transformative experience….and it definitely was for me. Beyond teaching me basic things like how to be away from my parents…how to shoot a bow and arrow…how to use a compass…and some basic social mores (i.e., streaking across a summer camp lawn is NOT okay), my experience at Phantom Lake gave me something I still come back to today: a mantra.
Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, mantras seem to be everywhere – in yoga classes (the famous “om”), at the gym, and even at work – as meditation and mindfulness continue to migrate into the mainstream. According to Merriam-Webster, a mantra is “a sacred utterance (syllable, word, or verse) believed to possess mystical or spiritual power. Mantras may be spoken aloud or uttered in thought, and they may be either repeated or sounded only once. Repetition of a mantra can induce a trancelike state and can lead the participant to a higher level of spiritual awareness.”
The mantra I learned as a kid didn’t derive from a formally spiritual place, but it did come from a very human and unifying place. And it has never induced a trancelike state, but it has definitely calmed and centered me. Since I learned it when I was 10 or so, I’ve come back to it countless times when I’ve need a basic and familiar anchor. Here it is – it’s called the “Ragger’s Creed”:
I will be true, for there are those who trust me;
I will be pure, for there are those who care;
I will be strong, for there is much to suffer;
I will be brave, for there is much to dare.
I will be friend to all – the foe, the friendless;
I will be giving, and forget the gift;
I will be humble, for I know my weakness;
I will look up, and laugh, and love and lift.
As we think about our well-being – and specifically, the role our mind plays in it – mantra can be a simple and powerful way to stay grounded and centered. Do you have a mantra that you rely on? Where did it come from, and why did it stick with you? And if not, how might you find (or make) one that speaks to you?
I love the Ragger’s Creed – that’s awesome. I never had anything like that. I didn’t learn about mantras until much later in life (probably within the last two years, actually). I have a couple mantras that I use in very specific situations, like when I get in the car I tell myself ‘be safe and kind’, when I exit the room where I meditate I tell myself ‘keep my mindfulness’ and when I enter the bathroom I tell myself ‘don’t linger’. 🙂 Those I know and use all the time. I do, often when I meditate, repeat a phrase over and over again, which I get from an app (Buddhist Meditation Trainer, https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bmt). Here are some of my favorite phrases from that app:
It is better to travel well than to arrive.
Time and tide wait for no man
Happiness never decreases by being shared.
The mind is the source of happiness and unhappiness.
Move and the way will open.
Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.
You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.
Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world.
I love all of these, especially “Move and the way will open.” Thanks so much for sharing!
I liked the mantra from my meditation app today: “You only lose what you cling to”. It reminded me of your Life Advice from the Orthopedist post (which I could relate to, now being at the edge of not being sure whether I can continue playing soccer or not due to injuries…)