My family is obsessed with Star Wars. Yes, my son is eleven years old, but even without him, I have always been a sucker for an “underdog fighting for the freedom of the galaxy story.” So when the latest Star Wars film, Rogue One, came to theaters, we made sure we were there on opening night. Our expectations were high, but they were surpassed. And as with most things, I found a way to relate this experience to my yoga practice.
My favorite character in the movie is Chirrut Imwe (pictured above), a warrior-monk charged with protecting the Temple of Kyber, a source of spirituality and power for the Jedis. Chirrut is blind, but this does not prevent him from successfully battling several stormtroopers at a time or accurately sensing which characters are up to no good.
He is fearless because of his strong belief in the Force and his use of a mantra — I am one with the Force; the Force is with me — which he repeatedly mumbles to himself whenever he finds himself in a difficult situation.
While Chirrut is a fictional character and the Force is a spirituality found only in a galaxy far far away, his character demonstrates how powerful a mantra can be for finding the inner strength and motivation we all need to tackle obstacles in our path.
It is similar to our yoga teachers reminding us to return to the breath when we struggle in a posture or when we tell ourselves, “I can do this!” before a big speech. A mantra can bring purpose (Live What You Love), provide motivation (Just Keep Swimming), or simply generate a feeling (Gratitude). A mantra is as impactful as you allow it to be.
I have recently started wearing three Mantrabands, bracelets with mantras printed on them. My bands say “Be The Change,” “Breathe,” and “Namaste,” but there are hundreds of choices. Whenever I get discouraged, I fiddle with them, reminding myself to refocus on what is important and to stay motivated and on task. They are pleasantly clinking together as I type this post. (No, Mantrabands did not ask/pay me to write this post.)
A mantra will not really help you fight off 10 attackers simultaneously, or walk through bullets to save the day without getting a scratch, or always discern the good guys from the bad guys, but it can improve your focus, help combat frustration and give you the extra boost of bravery you need to try something outside of your comfort zone.
Next time a posture gets tough, or an obstacle in life appears insurmountable — try using a mantra — and stride confidently into battle.
Readers, do you have a mantra?