Sunday, July 7, 2013

Not Just Pumping Iron, Part Twenty


Having given this overview of the mantra method, I want to deal with some more details of the wording. Just as one will recognize subjectively when a mantra has been chanted enough, one will recognize subjectively when the wording is correct. We could create several mantras all of the same gist, but only one would sound right to the user. This is a very subjective experience by which one recognizes the best wording for himself. This means that one has to experiment. Try several alternative wordings until it feels just right.

Another interesting feature of the wording of the mantra is that it may be more effective when stated in the positive form or it may be more effective when stated in the negative form. In dealing with a negative thought or feeling, often times stating the mantra in the negative form is more potent.

For example, a powerlifter may be having trouble concentrating on his bench press because of anticipating his opening deadlift. So, he could either use a mantra whose essence is "I can stay in the here-and-now," or one whose essence is "I don't have to jump ahead." Many people find this latter form works better as a starting point. This is a case of negating something negative. Very often, I have found, the negatively stated mantra will evolve into a positively stated one, in a while. So, after chanting "I don't have to jump ahead," for a while, one may evolve to "I can stay in the here-and-now."

The method of the mantra can also be used effectively in centering oneself in a higher state of consciousness. So, if one has chosen lifting as a path for personal growth, one can employ a mantra to help motivate himself to stay on the path. If, for instance, one were to find one's self strongly attracted to the outcome of a meet, distorting one's perspective by valuing winning to highly, he might use a mantra. "I don't have to win in order to be happy," or "I don't have to be attached to outcome," are candidates for the negatively stated mantra. In positive form one might try, "I can enjoy the process," or, simply, "Have fun!"

Allow me a more detailed example of the use of the mantra method by a lifter. Imagine a bodybuilder who approaches a physique contest with great fear. Feeling afraid, he might chant to himself, backstage, "I don't have to be afraid." He might chant while pumping up or while oiling his skin. After several minutes he begins to feel excited, rather than afraid. He then chants to himself, "I can be excited." Just before going on stage he chants, "I can do my best." Having placed high enough in the ranks to be in the pose-down, he starts to feel very attached to winning, hearing himself saying, "I've GOT to win this, OR ELSE." Recognizing this, he begins to chant, "I'll do my best, but I don't have to win." Just before stepping onto the stage he chants, "Have fun, look good!"

The difficult part of presenting an example of the use of mantras is that there are so many variations on their use. The possibilities for the effective use of the mantra are incredible, limited only by the user's lack of creativity. The basic principles are:

stay within reality;
keep the mantra short, simple, pithy;
find just the right words for you; and
use it until you wear it out.

As powerfully effective as the mantra method is, there is another method which is also very potent in enhancing lifting and/or posing performance. This is the method of mental imagery. The mantra is, of course, verbal. Imagery is the non-verbal counterpart.

Next: If words are the language of the left-brain, imagery is the language of the right-brain.

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