Stress to Energy …6
What do you know about the story of Nelson Mandela?
Most of us are familiar with his encarceration on Robin Island, where he suffered degradation, humiliation, and unspeakable cruelty at the hands of his captors.
He never denied that what gave him the strength to endure that torture was the ability to go within, find the strength of his own spirit, and live within that capsule of sanity.
To this end, he learned, recited, and lived the words of William Henley’s poem, ‘Invictus’.
‘In the dark of night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods that be,
For my unquerable soul.’
I don’t think any one can read those words without gaining some strand of strength. In many cases in my own experience, there are people who have adopted that stanza only, as their Lifetime Mantra.
You could do worse.
While the strength of the words are apparent, especially if you read them aloud, the repetition of them tends to absorb them into the mind in a way that can bring people to a different state of realization, to a different plane.
The final verse in that powerful piece of poetry is equally compelling:
‘It matters not how straight the gate(gait?), (The bracketed word is mine; just a theory)
Nor the punishment of the scroll,
I am the master of my fate.
I am the captain of my soul.’
It declares that whatever happens to his body, Mandela retains the sovereignty of his mind and his spirit.
It’s a bright and shining reminder to us all.
In times of darkness, fear, worry, apprehension, we are the final deciders about how we let circumstances, people, disadvantages, situations, intrude on our lives and destroy us, or galvanize us into a frame of mind that can be a revelation to ourselves and others.
In that regard, we always have a choice.
Another form of recitation is prayer, sometimes in the sense of Religious expression, sometimes not.
In a Time Magazine article, the rosary was cited as one of the most hypnotic and soothing mantras in the world. The rhythm and cadence of the speaking, muttering, repetition of the prayers, in a softer, deeper tone than normal speech, exerts a direct influence on the Parasympathetic Nervous System, that part of the Autonomic Nervous System that rests and relaxes us.
There are many who would attest to this.
In retrospect, thinking back over sixty five years ago, there are fewer calming and more charming memories than the effects of kneeling in the kitchen floor in Kilmore Quay, elbows on a chair, with the evening sun streaming through the window, and my mother’s voice gently but firmly keeping us in check, as we muttered and mumbled our way through the Mysteries.
Though we gathered to that daily event with an adolescent reluctance, there was, and still is, even in memory, a sense of warmth, security, a calm, a certainty about life, that may have dwindled a bit with the passing of time and the effects of life experience.
If we let it.