The Only Mantra You’ll Ever Need | Amber Hawken | Dip. Mindfulness CBT

This is it.

Every time that I leave the shores of my birth country, Australia, my beliefs about life and what matters go through the fucking blender. Despite my attempts to guard my heart with a metaphorical rottweiler, it gets cracked open a little more every time.

Be it from a split-second romance that lasts 12 blissful hours, 37 near death experiences on the roads of Albania, or a close call with death in a side alley of Montenegro in broad daylight; travel opens you. It opens you in ways you never intended to open. In ways that as a human being with a fragile ego and a need for control, you would prefer to avoid.

You see your darkest sides, and you must face your demons. Your humanness becomes all too evident when you’ve been awake for 33.25 hours due to airport transfers, delayed night buses, bed bugs, people having sex in the room next door through paper-thin walls, sad thoughts about it not being you who is getting laid, bad food that your stomach is attempting to expel from all orifices all at once….and all the other fun things that accompany travel life; The happy-go-lucky attitude you’d slapped onto your social relationship mask that is your self-esteem leaning post (i.e. how you see you) and egoic identity, comes crumbling down. Actually no, it bursts into flames and explodes like a taco you reheated the next day in the microwave for too long. You’re closer to Satan’s spawn than the best self you’ve worked hard to be, and those basic needs turn you into a primitive animal and your mind chimes in with your primitive fears.

Suddenly, sleep deprived, hungry, horny and itchy, you’re faced with questions about life that your cosy bed, organic almond latte, beachfront home, childhood friends and good wifi at home keep at bay. Such as;

Am I actually important or is that just what I try to be?

What does being important mean?

What do people actually think of me when they meet me?

Am I safe? Literally, physically? What about my reputation? Should I pretend I don’t have these thoughts?

Fuck it.

Is safety about money?

Passive income? Friends? Lovers? A house? Inner spiritual connection?

Meh. Who even gives a fuck.

Am I afraid to be alone?

What does alone mean?

Am I lonely?

Fuck, I feel alone and I’m scared.

It’s not too bad, actually.

Or maybe it is? Not really sure TBH.

All I know right now is that I just ate the best apple strudel, witnessed a sunset that made me cry and that a gorgeous man just left his number on a piece of paper (Do they still do that? Maybe he just thinks I’m lonely and feels sorry for me?).

Safety sucks. This is way better.

Whatever, liar.

What do I really need in order to feel safe?

Where the fuck can I get decent wifi? Seriously.

I think this IG story is rad and needs viewing.

What’s happening back home? Am I missing out?

I seriously need wifi to work out what bus I need to take. An English speaking person would be rad right now.

Fuck, I’m scared. Shit.

The bus driver is eating ice cream and driving…and texting. I want to tell him maybe I can drive?

Everyone texts and drives here.


This country is full of specular nature, and idiots.

Except that lady who lent me her hot spot so I could download the season finale of Sense 8 while I’m dying the slow death that is tonsillitis.

I have a big fucking control problem.

And am very self centered. Gross.

Think less.

Damn ego.

Am I a good person because I smile at strangers, or is that just weird?

Am I a bad person because I refuse to give beggars money because a part of me is judging them and justifying it as enabling them?

How can I trust myself more?

Meditate, der.

Life, how can I trust life more?

Let it go.

Accept all worst-case scenarios, be willing to hit rock bottom.

Mentally agree that growth is a substantial value in exchange for potential ‘rock bottom’.

Ahh. That’s nice. Surrender.

Shit, that turbulence is next level.

If I die, will he wish he’d said yes?

Maybe I should write a book about it. Ha. Fuck that. Hmm, but I am afraid, so maybe that means I should?

Nope. It’s a solid no.

So. Terrified.

I wonder if…What if I?… I could say this…Or, no bad idea..Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t? But remember when…Yes, but…Maybe I actually should? What about…

Repeat dialogue until I feel in control of situation. Realise no matter what I do, I’ll never control the situation.

Okay, epic new work project just appeared. Let’s make a 6 month plan. And plan for a planning session in November to make a 12 month plan.

How can I be kinder to myself to then enjoy life more?

How can I accept others that are so very different from me and anything that is familiar to me, in their weird dingy hotel with towels that could easily be mistaken as sandpaper?

What the fuck is life actually about?

If it’s just to grow, then I guess we can just do whatever the fuck we want? Right? But don’t hurt people?

Boring. I’m bored with that. Hmm.

Am I happy?

Am I running by travelling?

Am I travelling because I’m happy or unhappy?

Should I be working more?

Am I enough right now?

Is life enough right now?

I know, I’ll write about it. Make a plan. Get some clarity around it. Ask for advice.

Future. Past. Future. Past. Future. Past. Future. Past. Worry. Hope. Daydream. Plan. Future. Past. Regret. Plan. Re-live conversations. Write future conversations. Predict. Analyse. Plan. Try to come up with some kind of fucking validation that I am a) loved, b) enough and c) safe.

Examine. Analyse. Strategise. Conclude. Doubt. Repeat.

It’s all very fucking exhausting, init’?

You probably think I am a nutter by now, eh? Now c’mon, don’t be like that. Take a squiz at your thoughts for a mo’ before being a judgy wudgy bear.

6am – Alarm goes off.

Fuck yoga, I’m tired.

But my ass, seriously, my ass. And my thighs. Plus, the teacher will maybe validate me for my third appearance this week.

And my mind ‘needs’ it.

Get up. You’ll feel better and you know it.

No. Grr.

Fine. Up.

Examine. Analyse. Strategise. Conclude. Doubt. Repeat.

See. Told you.

You want another example, I know.

What about thinking about your relationships? Or lack of?

Your career?

Ambitions in life?


Self importance/esteem?

Pride (what you think others think of you)?

How often are you examining these areas, wishing for better, visiting the past, projecting into the future and trying to create, plan or manipulate life, opinions, beliefs, filtering, warping, worrying, overthinking, seeking opinions and validation, to try and get outcomes you believe will get you closer to the validation that all human beings crave so deeply –

I am loved.

I am enough.

I am safe.

Travel gives time for pondering. It strips back the safety nets and reveals our weaknesses and fears and allows us to transcend them (if we like).

No, you do not need to travel to do this.

But how many of us get into situations where we are so tired, so exhausted, hungry or feeling unsafe, unloved and unimportant that we have an opportunity to see what hides beneath our comforting, anesthetizing habits and smiles?

It’s not just the exhaustion or lonely moments.

It’s the ones that break your heart open.

The man on the bus that you’ve surely been married to in a past life.

The advice that cigar smoking, dried up llama selling witch gave you about love.

The dad on his laptop, ignoring his children’s beckons to come for a swim.

The woman-woman couple so in love, so publicly displaying it.

The hotel owner who drives to find you, lost and scared, at 1AM in the morning to guide you to safety.

The sunsets as you fly across the planet.

That extra wine that lead to that extra dance, that lead to a nightlong conversation on a balcony that changed your perspective on a situation you’d otherwise given up on.

The 62 year old Italian man who enjoyed your loud football sqeals and cheers so much that he gave you free ice cream.

The hike that took the last bit of energy you had left in your batteries that resulted in views that convinced you that this world is constructed of something quite infinite and divine.

Simply put, the moments that strip life back to the bare moment.

Each one exposing your fears and opening your heart, these are the ones that anchor you.

They force you to face the very grave reality that every life and too much 21st century comfort allows us to drown out, which is: we are all going to die.

This is impermanent.

It’s fast paced.

It’s messy.

It’s temporary.

It’s hell and heaven.

There are no guarantees.


And that it’s equally freeing as it is terrifying.

And I realise more and more that what occurs in each moment is in fact, it.

Right here. Right now. This is it.

This is fucking it, loves.

If you can get that.

That this moment is it. It’s all there is. It’s all there ever will be.

You can examine, analyse, strategize, conclude and worry all your life.

You are still not in control.

All of it, right in this very now, for better or for worse, is what you and I have.

And then what we can do is:

We can accept this.

We can repeat this, like a mantra.

This is it.

We can live this as often as possible, returning to the ultimate truth that can anchor us back in life.

We can see that we are in fact conveniently not in control, so we may as well let go and simply enjoy what the world is giving us.

Check in and see if there is anything at all that this cannot be applied to. Remind yourself that acceptance of the present moment has nothing to do with resignation in the face of what is happening. It simply means a clear acknowledgment that what is happening is happening. Acceptance doesn’t tell you what to do. What happens next, what you choose to do, has to come out of your understanding of this moment. You might try acting out of a deep knowing of “This is it.” Does it influence how you choose to proceed or respond? Is it possible for you to contemplate that in a very real way, this may actually be the best season, the best moment of your life? If that was so, what would it mean for you?

And then what we can do is pay attention.

And that, that is where magic occurs. Attention.

And attention gets better when we meditate.

Meditation means learning how to get out of this current, sitting by it’s bank and listening to it, learning from it, and then using it’s energies to guide us rather than to tyrannize us. This process doesn’t magically happen by itself. It takes energy. We call this effort to cultivate our ability to be in the present moment a “practice” or “meditation practice.

This moment is it. 

We just have now. Our minds want ‘now’ to be pleasure and fun and happy. We’re so obsessed with reliving the past or trying to reach the future that we miss what’s happening in front of us. You wanna know why this is so fucked?

Well firstly, the obvious reason: YOU’RE NOT LIVING, YOU’RE THINKING and if you’re not living then what’s the fucking point. When you’re thinking you’re just reacting to pain and pleasure. You’re a bloody delinquent, primitive Neanderthal in those moments. On survival. And you’re reacting to survival needs, eg. you’re living through fear. Action, reaction, action, reaction. This is the world we exist in. Now get this; If you’re always acting and reacting to the past or too far into the future, you’re either repeating past mistakes or you’re fucking up the present moment based on what you WANT (pleasure) in the future. You’re trying to control what’s not controllable. And when we do this, we suffocate life and destroy every moment that is. All based on one of the infinite possibilities of the future.

What you deeply desire may happen. And it may not. You can do all you might, but the single most important truth to remember that that thing you desire, is not yet here. And if you don’t pay attention to right now and live from there, it will never ever arrive.

This is it.

So with that…

Livet ass, as they say in Norway.


In humanness,

2 Comments on “The Only Mantra You’ll Ever Need | Amber Hawken | Dip. Mindfulness CBT

  1. Brilliant, nice to feel a connection through your words!

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