The two mantras that helped me move overseas

By now you probably know that in late 2015, our family of five moved 12,395 kilometres (or 7702 miles) across the Pacific Ocean from Queensland, Australia to Utah, USA.

We left behind some of the best bits of our old life: our family, our best friends, a beloved school community, and the home we’d owned since our firstborn was three weeks old.

We were excited and afraid.

We came to Utah for my husband’s work. We came for the adventure. We came because we really didn’t want to regret it if we didn’t. And we found a new country, a new city, a new school, a new neighbourhood, a new home, new workmates, and new friends.

Of course, we kept all the usual daily challenges – the morning school rush, homework, grocery shopping, working, juggling – and we gained a few new ones, like how best to post a parcel (seriously), how to drive on the other side of the road, and how to shovel two foot of snow off a long driveway.

But it was our choice and we made it happen. We’re happy about it, but it is a monumental landmark on our road through life.

The last 10 months were intense, and life is still pretty intense really.

At the time of packing up and leaving our old life for this unrecognisable new one, I turned to mantras (mantras, and lots of red wine!). If you're not sure, a mantra is a phrase you repeat to make you feel calmer or stronger and more powerful.

My two mantras were really about mindfulness and faith: mindfulness because they brought me back to the moment when my busier-than-usual mind raced through the details of our relocation, and faith because doing something like moving overseas takes a pretty major leap into the unknown.

The first mantra was ‘I am here’.

Simple but effective, this one cut through the stress, the mind-clutter of the endless tasks, and the pent up emotion constantly close to the surface, and snapped me back to the here and now: this moment. It reminded me that I wasn't in the future (imagining the day we’d be leaving our kids in a new school with not one familiar face or routine, for example) and I wasn't in the past (regretting not making the most of our local beach while we had the chance, for instance). It helped me to marinate in the moments of each day of this adventure and to really see and feel what was happening around me. We’re here for a reason and we’re fortunate to be experiencing it.

The second mantra comes from Louise Hay: ‘All is well. Everything is unfolding for my highest good. I am safe.’

Without a familiar couch to curl up on or a friend to have a cuppa with, having faith really helped. Just a belief in something bigger than ourselves. Or a higher purpose to our path. I still repeat ‘all is well’ and I try to say it out loud so my kids hear it too.

So, mantras proved really helpful at this major crossroads in my life. But don’t get me wrong, repeating mantras (even good ones) isn’t a miracle cure-all. It’s just one strategy in the toolbox for being kinder to ourselves and calmer in the world.

This great article on mantras has loads of examples if you’re keen to try some yourself.

Do you use mantras? Which ones work for you?

Natalie Bartley