Maybe it’s just that my memory is failing, but after a traumatic loss a few years ago, I had to remind myself what I believe. Good days brought useful insights about love and life, but they slipped away as the pain rose again. Those same thoughts then occurred to me weeks or months later long after they might have provided more comfort.
That’s when sticky notes became a useful grief management tool. I started by jotting resonant thoughts, reminders of how grateful I was for my love, and hopes for the mindset I wanted to hold. I stuck them on my laptop, my desk, and the wall by the door. They reminded me what I knew to be true.
Soon I strung the best lines together to repeat them aloud, in time with my breath and the beat of my feet, as I walked my dog daily. Mantras of mourning, they propped up my heart. Without meaning to, I was praying.
Traditional religions lost me long ago, but I appreciate the benefits of a spiritual practice, and this one had powerful effects on my heart. Here’s an example:
Give Tony this gift: Try to live the adventure,
The joy and the play your love stood for.
Let him experience beauty through you.
Go where he’d take you. Smile with him,
Be his eyes and his ears on the Earth.
Send him a firehose current of love,
Fueling whatever he is and does now.
Love is stronger than death. His endures, too.
Feel that love in your heart. Make him proud.
To expand this useful practice, I played with more sticky notes, filling them with reminders of how I’d like to grow. I pieced them together in thematic groups and invented new lines to round out a concept. That led me to personal prayers like this:
May I be part of the pattern unfolding
With brighter awareness of the Divine.
Seek, listen, experience life
With compassion and gratitude now—
Riding the turbulent river of fate
Ever closer to the source of all love.
How To Write Your Own Post-It Prayers
You can find comfort or encourage your better nature by crafting Post-It note prayers, too—even if you’re not a writer. After using this concept for a while, I can offer a template. Here’s how:
Come up with a line for two or more of these prompts on a single topic. (If you write big, try oversized sticky notes or use one sticky per line.) Each line only needs to roll off your tongue, be easy to remember, and uplift you.
An aspiration or attitude you need help with
A line for the benefit of that change
A truth to remind yourself of
How you can take responsibility or action for change
Add a tangible image (like the firehose and the river in my examples) to ground these ideas. That will help make your aspiration more concrete, too.
Rearrange your lines in an order that makes sense to you, adding connective words or more lines as needed.
For instance, in the difficult social climate of the past few years, I’ve found myself calmed by this sticky-note prayer for humility:
Help me remember I’m not always right. [my aspiration]
Others, who feel as strongly as I do,
May have experiences different from mine.
Most of our values align in the end, and
Everyone’s doing the best that they can. [a few truths to remember]
When I remember compassion for all, [my responsibility for change]
Frustration rolls off me like rain off a duck. [the benefit and a tangible image]
If you struggle to remember your prayer, add rhymes to help. You might even sing it to the tune of a song like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Here’s an example using another prayer of mine:
Help me think of others more,
Lift them up and let them soar.
More of them and less of me—
We’re all one at heart, you see.
Like the waves upon the shore:
All one ocean, evermore.
It’s okay if the results are less than poetic. No one needs to hear them but you. (Or recite them silently in your mind, and not even your dog or cat will hear them!) As you recite them aloud or meditate on them, you’ll naturally tweak them to smooth out the rhythm, make them easier to remember, or evolve them to reflect new insights.
Finally, if my examples look lengthy or daunting, start with just one or two words. Traditional Sanskrit mantras like “om, shanti, shanti, shanti” or my favorite, “oṃ maṇi padme huṃ,” use just a few words to invoke peace and compassion, respectively. You might do the same with “patience, patience, patience now” or “inhale, exhale, rest.” What matters is how the words make you feel and whether they help you go about your day more mindfully.
The excuse to buy colorful office supplies is a bonus.