An Introduction To Mantras

Much of my life until the age of 39 was plagued by doubt, insecurity, fear, and worry. From an initial groundwork that was laid by my parents who suffered similar traits, I grew up demonstrating most of their same behaviors. Until last year, I believed there was no ability for me to ever change those characteristics that were so deeply imbedded within me. Our minds and bodies are like computers which can be programmed and reprogrammed. Through repeated work and fine tuning, I believe that all the “bugs” can be worked out of any computer programs that were written long ago within each of us. One of those tools that I have found to help immensely achieve this, is mantras.

By definition a “mantra” is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of creating a desired transformation within one’s own being through repetition. I was probably exposed to mantras long ago when I went into psychotherapy just after quitting drinking and drugs and finding my first year of sobriety passing me by. Therapists might not have used the word mantra back then, but I was told that when a thought arose which was not a desired one, to combat it by verbalizing the exact opposite or desired one. Unfortunately, as mentioned in a previous entry, I was always looking for quick fixes and after a few attempts to combat the thoughts, I resorted to taking medications that suppressed them instead. Over the years, the medications had to change as my body stopped responding to them and the unwanted thoughts returned.

Last year when the pain was so severe within me on every level, and I no longer was finding relief through medications, I made a pledge to myself to start practicing mantras every day with the belief that it was changing me inside. I knew I didn’t become the way I was overnight and I knew some of the programs written within me probably had to be completely redone. Because of this, I maintained the attitude that it was going to take time and patience. I wrote up a list in a word document of mantras that covered the areas of my life most troublesome throughout all of it. And I decided to add an element to my daily repetition of them that came to me as an idea one day. I know that repeated visual images can induce change as well so I bought a kaleidoscope and I began to use it while I recited each mantra. Three times in one eye. Three times in the other. Then three times back in the first eye. And finally three times back in the other.

My list today has grown to 24 different mantras. I spend somewhere between 35 and 45 minutes every morning saying them again and again and again. It’s been over 9 months now since I undertook this new addition to my spiritual journey. Have I seen changes to those old programs and tapes? Absolutely. It didn’t happen overnight just as I thought it wouldn’t. The changes were subtle and as time moved forward, I noticed I was having better thoughts, choosing more positive actions, and making better decisions in all areas of my life. I continually tweak this list making updates to it as my life evolves closer to God.

My main desire in all of this is to erase each of those old lines of code within me that were written in an inefficient language I no longer desire to use. I don’t assume there is an endpoint to this daily mantra routine. I just know there will be change to the list as I continue to heal and become a healthier servant of God.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Caffeine Will Kill Ya!”

“Caffeine Will Kill Ya!” I love that line. It’s taken from Jim Carey when he played the Riddler in a Batman and Robin movie many years ago. Watching him throw a coffee pot at Batman while saying that line brought on a chuckle for me back then. My viewpoint on caffeine has changed dramatically today where ironically, I feel that same way.

When I was growing up my mother generally bought caffeine free sodas. I never drank coffee as I thought the taste was awful. And other than around Halloween, I wasn’t allowed to have tons of chocolate. In college, I was too busy drinking alcohol each night so my body craved a lot of water during the days to make up for the dehydration I brought onto myself. Everything changed when I graduated from college and found sobriety.

I’m not sure whether it was the need to have something in my hand after quitting alcohol or the long hours at boring corporate jobs I was working at that drove me to drink coffee and consume so much caffeine. Either way, I quickly became addicted to it. According to research I did on the internet, 90 percent of the world’s population consumes some form of caffeinated beverages daily. What’s even more interesting, caffeine is considered the number one addiction in the world.

Those who can be classified as caffeine addicts often feel that without caffeine, they can’t get through the day or they find it hard to concentrate. Caffeine is considered a stimulant and regular consumption of it can lead to dizziness, headaches, high blood pressure, increased respiration rates and insomnia to name just a few symptoms.

For years, I consumed highly caffeinated coffees, energy drinks, large quantities of regular and dark chocolate, and teas. It’s been almost a year now that I have been free from caffeine consumption. I didn’t realize how much it affected me until recently when I went out for breakfast with my partner. I ordered a decaf coffee as I’ve found the percentage of caffeine to be infinitesimal and not affect me. Usually I make sure when the decaf coffee is brought to the table that it truly is decaf. So many times I’ve ordered it and the servers have to go back and get me the right beverage as they’ve made a mistake. That morning I forgot to ask. By the time I finished my cup, I was talking much faster like Speedy Gonzalez. I suddenly felt like I was a in a better mood quite different from the one I had begun my breakfast with. And then, I was having all these ideas of things I wanted to do for the day begin to spin around in my head. When she returned with the pitcher asking if I wanted a refill and I said “Decaf?” She responded, “Oh, I didn’t hear that, I’m so sorry, the first cup was regular.” And then it all began to make sense.

I am quite sensitive to many things that I consume, especially caffeine. When I used to drink it often, the affects were dulled down because of my regular consumption. In the case of breakfast that morning, it had been more than 10 months since the last time I had consumed any. I tried not to get angry and started drinking a lot of water. For about 3 or 4 hours I felt like I had a ton of energy and much of the pain levels that I endure everyday with the toxic clearing process I’m going through had diminished quite a bit. And then, like it always does, the “buzz” wore off, and a brick landed on me. I say a brick because it felt like that. All I wanted to do was sleep. In the past, I would have consumed another caffeinated beverage to keep the “buzz” going. For a long time in my life, that’s how I got through the day. The worst part about caffeine consumption is the withdrawal from it which usually hits me between 24 and 36 hours after my last consumption. And like clockwork, around that time frame, my head started to pound and for about 5 to 6 hours I have a massive headache that prevented me from even thinking or sleeping. Thankfully, this accidental ingestion didn’t drive me back into my caffeine addiction as the side effects and withdrawal were enough of reminders of how much I didn’t miss it.

There’s a funny story I’d like to share about how bad my caffeine addiction got at its peak. One night I went to my home group in AA which was then on a Friday night in West Bridgewater, MA. A group of us had planned on going out dancing later that night and I had spent most of the day drinking several Pepsi Max’s which had double the caffeine. I had wanted to keep myself going. During the meeting, I was eyeing the coffee pot like someone I was attracted to and making frequent trips to it, going from single fisting to double fisting so that I could continue to get my fix throughout the evening. Upon the meeting’s end, I announced that we needed to make a Dunkin Donuts run and get coffees for the hour drive down to Providence, RI where we were heading to go dancing. Of course I got the largest one possible. I forgot to mention that high caffeine consumption also correlates to high bathroom trips and that had already started back during the meeting and continued for the drive down there. When we got down to the club and realized it was too early, guess what I announced then? “I know of a great place to hang out and get some dessert!” What I really wanted there though was the dessert coffees. And I did just that. I got a coffee beverage named something like the “chocolate zombie” and proceeded to down it like it was a hot day drinking cold water. And that’s when it really began to hit me. I felt nauseous. I thought I was hyperventilating. My heart was racing too fast. I could have sworn I was seeing trails like I had been tripping on acid. And my anxiety was going through the roof. When we arrived at the club, while my friends all were able to enjoy the dance floor and have fun with each other, my evening was spent on the top floor of the club drinking water and listening to a guy play the piano while I battled nauseousness and frequent trips to the bathroom.

Do I miss that at all? Not a bit. Having that mix up at breakfast the other day was enough of a reminder that I don’t want to go back to it … EVER…

Most people don’t realize how dependent they are on caffeine. And if they do, I’m not sure if most people care. Many say they need it to get through the day. Some say it gives them that extra edge they need. What I say is why does one need any type of stimulant to function at all?

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

There Are No Quick Fixes…

I’ve made a lot of entries about the health and healing process I am going through and while I would love to say it’s been a stroll through the park, I can’t. Getting my mind, body, and soul into a healthier state has been the biggest undertaking I’ve pursued in this lifetime.

My Shaman friend always tells me I didn’t become unhealthy overnight. It took years and years of me living in addictions, hanging out with the wrong crowd, lying, stealing, cheating, being jealous, lustrous, envious, judgmental, and egotistical to get that way. I’m convinced that as soon as I came out of the womb, I was exposed to toxic elements in my family that began to take me away from my connection to Source. As life went on, and I began to mature and make my own decisions, self-will took over and many poor choices were made by me that were filled with quick highs and awful lows. I believe that this world has moved a lot in that direction with all the advances. I don’t think anyone really wants to suffer, to be unhappy, to feel pain, to be sick, or be alone. With the growth in medicine and technology, advertising is everywhere about some pill or gadget that will instantly make one feel better. And believe me, over the past few years in my journey to heal, I tried a lot of them. And what I found out is that just about everything numbed me from feeling anything, from the pain to my emotions. It was as if I was on autopilot just going through the motions of my day, carrying out my duties, and completing task after task with no real sense of connection to anything.

As I mentioned in several previous postings, a year ago I made a decision to stop looking for those things that might quickly take the pain away. I stopped taking medications that weren’t healing me and were only band-aiding a deeper problem. I stopped hanging out with people that brought me those addictive highs and terrible lows. And I forced myself to start feeling everything that I believed my body was meant to experience naturally. I’m a firm believer that our bodies are quite knowledgeable of how to heal. A century ago before all the advances, people had to rely on holistic healing, hope, prayer, and love from others to get through difficult trials and tribulations. Today, society has somehow shifted to seeking whatever it can to take any pain or feelings of sadness away. It’s as if no one wants to feel any emotion but happiness.

I’m not sure if that’s possible here on Earth. If I didn’t experience sadness, how could I ever truly appreciate happiness? If I only ever lived in the light, how would I ever have known what the darkness felt like? What I know is that while the body’s natural healing process is a slow one, it is also long lasting. There are an infinite amount of quick fixes that exist but none of them ever truly bring healing to the source of imbalance. While I’ve sought out too many of those throughout my life, I’ve come to learn that if I truly want to heal at the core within me, I must endure what it is I feel each and every day. I must not seek to quickly rid or numb myself from what it is I’m feeling. And I absolutely, positively, must thank God for the abundance of healing happening within me each and every day, with every single breath I take.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson