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We train our bodies through repetition to remember how to perform certain skills and actions. We train our brains the same way: we commit things to memory by repeating them in our heads. This is why it can be helpful to formulate mantras and daily recitations: short and succinct distilled phrases that are easy to remember and thus easy to call upon and repeat on an everyday basis. We get caught up in the vicissitudes of life, the constant flux of unexpected events and demands that catch us off guard. In these moments it is especially important to hold in our minds the core values and principles that guide us toward good behavior and making good decisions.

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Quotations

C.S. Lewis
Christian theologian and writer
Christianity

“The first step is to recognise the fact that your moods change. The next is to make sure that, if you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious reading and church going are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed.”

Philip Goldberg
Spiritual counselor and author
Christianity

“Many Christians intone one of these Latin phrases: Veni, Sancte Spiritus (Come, Holy Spirit) Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis (Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us).”

Saba Mahmood
Anthropologist
Islam

“The Prophet said to Ali, if he recited Surat al-Ikhlas [a short chapter of the Quran comprised of four verses] three times before going to sleep, it was as if he had recited the whole Quran."

The Qur'an
Islamic scripture
Islam

“Say, ‘He is God the One, God the eternal. He begot no one nor was He begotten. No one is comparable to Him.’."

Sefer Ha-Aggadah
Collection of Jewish writings
Judaism

“Let every breath praise the Lord" (Ps. 1 50:6). At each and every breath a man takes, he should praise his Creator.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Baha'i leader
Baha'i

“It behoveth us one and all to recite day and night both the Persian Arabic Hidden Words, to pray fervently and supplicate tearfully that we may be enabled to conduct ourselves in accordance with these divine counsels. These holy words have not been revealed to be heard but to be practiced."

‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Baha'i leader
Baha'i

“Everyday at first light, ye gather the Bahá’í children together and teach them the communes and prayers. This is a most praiseworthy act, and bringeth joy to the children’s hearts: that they should, at every morn, turn their faces toward the Kingdom and make mention of the Lord and praise His Name, and in the sweetest of voices, chant and recite."

Baha’u’llah
Baha'i prophet
Baha'i

"Recite ye the verses of God every morn and eventide. Whoso faileth to recite them hath not been faithful to the Covenant of God and His Testament, and whoso turneth away from these holy verses in this Day is of those who throughout eternity have turned away from God. Fear ye God, O My servants, one and all."

The Bhagavad Gita
Hindu scripture
Hinduism

“Om Tat Sat: these three words represent Brahman, from which come priests and scriptures and sacrifice. Those who follow the Vedas, therefore, always repeat the word Om when offering sacrifices, performing spiritual disciplines, or giving gifts.”

The Bhagavad Gita
Hindu scripture
Hinduism

"Those who worship me and meditate on me constantly, without any other thought—I will provide for all their needs."

Gayatri/Savitri mantra
Mantra recited by pious Hindus every day at sunrise.
Hinduism

“Let us meditate on this beloved light of the god who enlivens. May he inspire our thoughts."

Shunryu Suzuki
Zen master
Buddhism

“In Japan we have the phrase shoshin, which means ‘beginner’s mind.’ The goal of practice is always to keep our beginner’s mind. Suppose you recite the Prajna Paramita Sutra only once. It might be a very good recitation. But what would happen to you if you recited it twice, three times, four times, or more? You might easily lose your original attitude towards it. The same thing will happen in your other Zen practices. For a while you will keep your beginner’s mind, but if you continue to practice one, two, three years or more, although you may improve some, you are liable to lose the limitless meaning of original mind.”

Matsuo Basho
Japanese haiku poet
Art & Literature

“What is important is to keep our mind high in the world of true understanding, and returning to the world of our daily experience to seek therein the truth of beauty. No matter what we may be doing at a given moment, we must not forget that it has a bearing upon our everlasting self which is poetry."

Pierre Hadot
French philosopher and historian
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

“Attention (prosoche) is the fundamental Stoic spiritual attitude. It is a continuous vigilance and presence of mind, self consciousness which never sleeps, and a constant tension of the spirit. Thanks to this attitude, the philosopher is fully aware of what he does at each instant, and he wills his actions fully. Thanks to his spiritual vigilance, the Stoic always has ‘at hand’ (procheiron) the fundamental rule of life: that is, the distinction between what depends onus and what does not. As in Epicureanism, so for Stoicism: it is essential that the adepts be supplied with a fundamental principle which is formulable in a few words, and extremely clear and simple, precisely so that it may remain easily accessible to the mind, and be applicable with the sureness and constancy of a reflex.”