So what exactly does a mantra or a zen koan sound like in the age of terminal late-stage materialism, electromagnetic and sensory bombardment, and productivity maximization? Damn right if you said it sounds like whatever works!
One of the first significant times I found this magically working for me was at the end of a relationship that dragged out far longer than it should have as I allowed myself to sink into the complacency of creature comforts and subsequently the neglect of those things that really mattered most in the world. The next logical step was for everything to fall apart.
A friend of mine had covered this song in his band and just one single line from the chorus resonated in such a way as to echo between the walls of my skull for weeks to come. Rolling over and over itself as it gained and lost momentum, ebbed and flowed. It became a rotary engine of my will to proceed. My driving, beating war drum of soldiering on toward the healing and growth that would inevitably follow. This particular mantra was from Leonard Cohen’s “Iodine.”
You let me love you
Till I was a failure,
Yeah, you let me love you
Till I was a failure
I have also been wont to use southern style hymns such as “Down to the river to pray” or Tom Waits’ “Cold Water.” Thom Yorke lyrics also work really well since they’re almost entirely pre-existing popular sayings framed sonically to alter the usual meaning by changing their context. Let me be clear: This kind of poetry, rearranging the current resources available to your benefit is magic.
Use what works for you. If you get a song stuck in your head, stop and listen to it. What are the lyrics telling you about your right now? Do not underestimate the Unconscious, or your team of helpful spirits feeding seemingly random thoughts into your inner dialog like easter eggs in a stock ticker. The sooner you learn to listen for these moments and acknowledge them (to yourself and to your guides,) the sooner magic begins to fill in all the cracks and in-betweens and opens up your life to high adventure and high strangeness. Upgrading the mundane to fantastic offers a self-perpetuating and infinitely gratifying worldview. Once it gets off the ground it can fly you around on its own steam for the rest of your life, at the very least.
Keep going. We’re all dying to live.