Throughout time there have been stories, myths, and legends where people merely have to utter some magic words, a spell, or mantra, and POOF! their desires manifest magically before their eyes.
Even if you don’t believe in “magic words,” I’ve discovered a real-life mantra which are magic words for unfettered happiness. Well, almost. Actually it’s even better than it sounds.
I don’t know how I discovered this mantra, perhaps it found me.
A few weeks ago, I was running around Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York, pushing my snoozing two-year-old son in the jog stroller. The autumn temperature was beautiful and crisp, ideal for a run. The diffuse afternoon sunlight was filtering through the rice-paper sky of wispy clouds making the panoply of fall colors practically burst each tree into flames. My lungs were breathing deeply and effortlessly in sync with my footsteps making my head feel clear and my body feel alive.
That’s when these magic words just popped out of my mouth: “This is EXACTLY what I want to be doing in this moment!” I repeated it a few times, feeling ever more enthralled with each repetition.
A few days later, while at the playground watching my kid play with all the other kids, I stepped back and repeated that same magic phrase, “This is EXACTLY what I want to be doing in this moment.”
Again, a week or so later, I was taking an ordinary walk and not really feeling much of anything and decided to try the phrase again to see what would happen. “This is EXACTLY what I want to be doing in this moment.” Again, almost instantly a wave of happiness and contentment washed over me.
Then, I decided to really put this mantra to the test. A few days later, when I was feeling particularly crabby, and despite my own momentary cynicism about this mantra, I somehow found the fortitude to whip out these magic words, “This is EXACTLY what I want to be doing in this moment,” even though suffering these tight, constricted feelings in my chest caused by crabbiness wasn’t what I wanted to be doing in this moment.
I’ll admit, crabbiness didn’t disappear instantly: I didn’t immediately start dancing and singing around the streets of Brooklyn, like the Maria von Trapp. But it did have a remarkable effect on me by pulling me into the present moment and my crabbiness did subside by substantial degrees. The presence this mantra gave me was to look objectively at the emotions in the moment as physical sensation and adopt the vantage point of observer rather than victim of the circumstances which led me to being crabby.
Cuz, I think this is the thing, here: the magic of this phrase is that it locks me into presence. It wakes me up from projecting to past or future and opens my eyes to HERE.
We stop blackmailing our happiness by insisting that we will only feel happy when the circumstances in our lives align to ways we think they ought to be.
When we take a good look at HERE, we realize that this moment is not only void of the stressors or worries that past and future want to impose on our minds, but most often, this practiced attention to the present helps us to see all the beauty that surrounds us at all moments, perfection which is often masked by momentary emotions that cloud our vision.
The Yoga Sutras point to a foundational pillar of our own evolution called Santosha, which means the practice of personal contentment. When we practice this mantra, we are practicing Santosha in a practical and real way.
Taking it one step deeper, ancient yoga wisdom also states that our most natural comportment is that of boundless equanimity, a joy that exists despite the events or circumstances of our lives.
By dialing in to the perfection of this moment, we cultivate our own capacity for contentment. Soon, we train ourselves to experience this natural contentment as the underlying natural way of being, which is always present, despite events and circumstances.
Warning: Crabbiness, and all the other negative emotions will continue to surface. But with practiced presence, we cultivate Santosha, contentment, and these emotions will have less and less power to pull you away from presence. In fact, with practice we can use those negative emotions, and all temporary emotions, as a way of feeling into this moment and becoming more present.
This may be a lifelong practice to perfect. Just take it moment by moment.
I invite you to practice these magic words, “This is EXACTLY what I want to be doing in this moment. ” Starting today, cultivate your own capacity for deep, lasting contentment and a happiness that isn’t dependent on events or circumstances.
I’ve recorded a Yoga Nidra (guided meditation) that feels amazing by cultivating this joy beyond events or circumstance. It takes about 30 minutes.