Whether you're looking for words to help you have a healthy morning, snag secrets from business pros, or finally cultivate a positive attitude, finding a mantra is a surefire way to improve your sense of wellbeing. A mantra can inspire you, motivate you, center you, and spur you to see your life from a more level-headed perspective. What's not to like?
Given the obvious importance of a mantra's phrasing, it's surprising that more of these sacred utterances aren't imported from literature. Whether it's Rainer Maria Rilke's call to change your life or Ernest Hemingway's adage from For Whom the Bell Tolls ("How little we know of what there is to know"), literary works can provide a vocabulary or a rubric by which to talk about or make sense of your life.
Of course, you could easily find great mantra material in any number of novels, short stories, and essays, but I'm especially partial to poems. With National Poetry Month approaching, now is a great time to start combing through your favorite stanzas. Even poems written in free verse or blank verse utilize literary techniques like repetition and alliteration, not to mention internal rhyme or other measures that create melodious — and memorable — literary moments. Ready to mantra up? Check out these seven poems.
1. "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" by Lucy Wainger
Reaching, always —
the top of the ladder, buried in light —
2. "Offworld" by Anne Waldman
chisel your way into existence
3. "Everything: Coda" by Charles North
The effect without a cause
4. "Coherence in Consequence" by Claudia Rankine
Were we ever to arrive at knowing the other as the same
5. "Archaic Torso of Apollo" by Rainer Maria Rilke
You must change your life.
6. "Prayer" by Liz Waldner
What can one do about one’s nature?
7. "This World Is Not Conclusion" by Peter Gizzi
When I look out your window I see another window