by Maia Villalba
Citrine. Amethyst. Obsidian.
As my auntie appraised the healing stones at our local Chinatown market, I doubted that its supposed therapeutic properties could alleviate my overwhelming fear of germs. According to my auntie, these sedimentary relics held “transformative powers,” ones that could hypothetically get me to touch a door handle without drowning in anxiety. But, as a long-time member of the obsessive-compulsive club, I refused to believe that. How could rocks do something that my anxiety medication could not? It seemed silly.
That is to say that I felt very hopeless at that point in time. I spent most of my days locked in my room, watching reruns of The Office in an effort to forget about the trillions of germs on my clothes alone. When an intruder came into the room (AKA my mom or dad) and disrupted my daydreams of germ-less utopias and contaminant-free realities, I would throw a fit and find something to destroy. Ironically, I did not worry about germs when I had an opportunity to break something. My usual objects of choice were pieces of paper. Easy to rip, accessible, and in bounteous supply. Sometimes, I would tear hundreds of pages at a time and then sit in piles of scribbled notebook scraps like my own personal throne.
I still have permanent paper cuts from that.
So in my effort to speed up the process, I nodded and followed my auntie to the cash register to purchase the stones.
When we got home, she prepared my room for a meditation ritual. Cleansing the stones with salt, she placed seven of them along my body from my forehead to my pelvis.
“I am going to introduce one of my favorite mantras to you. ‘Om Bhavam Namah.’ It means in Sanskrit, ‘I am absolute existence.’ Quietly repeat this to yourself and let all thoughts fade.”
At first, I was reluctant. I thought: “Great, The perfect opportunity to slide in an extra nap for the day.” But as my auntie placed her warm hands on my face, whispering the mantra along with sweet nothings, I felt strangely at peace. The words salivated in my mouth like honey.
Slowly, I began to break the tension and allow the tight muscles near my temples to relax. I started to feel the rhythm of my breath synchronize with the steady beat of my heart and I felt my body smiling. A layer of warmth spread down the line of stones and its energy flooded from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. Like a night-blooming cereus, I felt myself opening up to the world, receptive to all its gifts and glories.
My auntie finally whispered: “Everything is going to be ok. Thoughts come and go, come and go, come and go.” And I caught myself repeating after her: “Thoughts come and go, come and go, come and go.” This mantra, while simple, was the supplement I needed. Even after the ritual, I made sure to repeat the phrase every day. These were my grounding words. My happy words. My safe words.
Now, when I touch the door handle, my mind surrenders to the mantra: “Thoughts come and go, come and go, come and go.”