Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My 2012 Mantra--Look Within

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation." 

Every January I try to come up with a meaningful phrase /mantra to guide me through the year. I don't like the term "resolution" because a resolution usually aims at one particular behavioral change a person tries to make in their life such as "to lose weight" or "to save money." Resolutions are also famously doomed to failure. 

For me, choosing a mantra is a pretty thoughtful and serious process. I try to be self-reflective, open to recognizing my own shortcomings, and willing to be honest about my own ability to change. In the past few years, my mantras have focused on how I treat or respond to other people such as "forgiveness."

Late last year, I saw a post on Facebook quoting Lao Tzu. 

If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself, if you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have is that of your own self-transformation.

For some reason, this quote resonated with me. I kept thinking about the the things about myself that I really would like to work on: 

- I want to trust my own eye, opinion and artistic instincts about the art I create.
- I want my actions to be more in line with my personal beliefs.
- I want to be less judgmental.
- I want to be less hypocritical in my actions and words.

At some point I took this quote and created a little piece of art to hang in my studio, thinking it would be a reminder of what might guide my behavior. But really, this quote is way to wordy to be a mantra.

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In mid-January, after we returned from a trip to New York City, I finally came up with my 2012 mantra, 
"Look Within." The phrase has really lead me to be more self- aware and mindful of my actions. Since I adopted my new mantra, I have been awarded two big awards for my paintings. I have felt more confident in my studio. I have lost 40 pounds without "dieting." I have curbed my gossipy talk. (Mind you, I haven't completely eliminated it.) I truly believe that I am experiencing some self-transformation.

Least you think I've gone totally woo-woo, I don't entirely trust that my "self-transformation" is going to last forever. I waited until my pants literally fell off before buying new clothes and loading up my larger sized clothing for Goodwill; I only committed to going alcohol free for 2012; I still look for fellow artist's critiques and jurors approval of my work. 

But "looking within" has helped me think about my own actions rather than making judgments about others. It has helped me be mindful of what I put into my body. It has given me more confidence in my artistic ability. I'm no longer the person who thinks "so and so sure can't handle their booze," as I have my second beer.

I've waited a long time to share this with my readers because it is so personal. I don't want to be preachy, I just hope that something that has been valuable to me might be of some use to someone else. 


Anonymous said...

Good going Margaret...and could you make your mantra a bit larger so my weak eyes and computer can take it all in? LV

Anonymous said...

Thank you Margaret. This is perfect.

Anonymous said...

This could not have come at a better time. I have been thinking some unworthy thoughts today. These thoughts are going to be extricated right now!! I am replacing them with positive gems. Thanks.


Unknown said...

Margaret, wow, I thought you looked thinner. Congrats!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your art work. Life is an ongoing learning experience for anyone mentally active. I thought I knew myself pretty well by the time I reached 65, but WRONG! Still learning new things.....some positive and some not so positive. Congratulations on the weight loss. It is such a struggle! I imagine you not only look good, but feel better also.

Still have a book of yours that I must return...............

Liz said...

Wow, Margaret---I can't believe I'm just reading your May post now...I have much admiration for your goals, because I have aspirations of similarly getting my act together and I now can hold you up as my inspiration. Clearly, we need to talk!! Thanks for sharing this--not everyone feels comfortable being so frank, but I'm grateful that you gave us this gift of yourself.