After I graduated college I moved up to a small coastal town in Maine to be a mediocre writer and a terrible waitress.
I met a boy at a party and a few weeks later, ran into him at a Vietnamese bakery downtown. His khaki pants were unzipped and unbuttoned. When I called it to his attention, he said he already knew. He didn’t feel like being restricted to the boundaries of a waist band, I suppose.
He was the type of person who had defined himself and let you know what he stood for even if you didn’t ask. Not in an offensive way, but in an endearing, confident one.
He was a practicing Buddhist. He meditated every morning for 20 minutes on an empty stomach immediately after waking. The way he talked was intoxicating, not because I cared about his practices, but because he did.
I ended a shift at the breakfast joint I worked at and we had plans to meet up and drive to a nearby island, grab lunch at the general store and go to the beach. When we were sitting on the rocks he explained things like Kama Sutra and chakras and the ability to clear your mind completely.
At the time, that practice was foreign to me. Foreign, and impossible sounding.
I was fresh out of college, ready to take on the world, writing and parading across the country telling stories. Clear my mind completely? Think about nothing? But why, when there are so many wonderful thoughts to be had?
He explained that during meditation his end goal was to be thoughtless, and one of the ways in which he achieved this was by repeating a mantra. A couple words strung together, perhaps not even a full sentence. I asked him what his mantra was and he told me that your mantra is personal and you should keep it to yourself.
Maybe a week later I was at the ocean, writing an article for the local paper. I took a break to lay down in the sun. I started repeating three words over and over.
After dozens of repetitions, the words sort of consumed me. I was wrapped up in them and they were swirling over me with a heaviness that was comforting. When I sat back up, I realized that my mind had just gone to a place it hadn’t been to before. Not in any mystical, magical, ridiculous way, but in a nice, peaceful way that reminded me that I was in control of my own thoughts and emotions.
From that day on, those three words became my mantra. I don’t subscribe to the idea that my mantra should be a secret. My mantra gives me a sense of ease, so shouldn’t it be able to bring you one?
The words I repeat are: This Is Now.
The words remind me that every moment is my moment, your moment, and that life is already happening. Not five years from now. Not when you land your dream job or when you can pay your rent on time. Not when you have a ring on your finger or a baby on the way. Not any of those times.
It’s happening now. Right now. As I write, as you read. This is now.
Enjoy my mantra and pass it along. Good words are meant to be shared, not kept a secret.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Kathryn Gisi
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Brenda Clarke/Flickr