This never happened: I hike for miles up to the top of a mountain where I am granted an audience with a wizened and wise guru. He whispers a secret Sankskrit word into my ear and tells me to never speak my mantra out loud to another human being.
The first mantra I ever used was At Ease. Two syllables seemed right. The message seemed right. I had come to meditation, after all, to find focus. If I could get rid of some of that free floating anxiety, certainly I'd be able to complete the manuscript of my novel. The words got the job done, the job being to brush the thought chatter aside for a moment and then to do it again. The novel manuscript is another issue completely.
A few months later I changed my mantra to Who Am I? It wasn't the cocktail party question. That question is more about what you do professionally, how many kids you have, what their ages are, and if you don't have a good answer to the first question about what you do professionally, there are more questions about what your kids do. Who Am I refers to something deeper. The answer is not: I'm a mother, a lawyer, a writer. The answer is more like a question than an answer. For the record, neither the question or the answer work well at cocktail parties.
My next mantra was in Sanskrit. I had signed on for a free online meditation course with Deepak Chopra. He had a few suggestions and I chose Satcitānanda. According to Wikipedia, this translates as being, consciousness, bliss. I liked the sound of the word and also the fact I didn't really understand what it meant. This mantra turns out to be the most comforting of all my mantras.
Most recently I use Let Go and Peace and Be Here Now.
I have always been in search of the right words to build the right sentence to build the right story. Words are scaffolding. Words are sacred. The word I repeat to myself as I try to stop the chatter and be comfortable with what I feel and who I am, that word is my mantra, and that word, that perfect secret word that may only exist in the rarified air of nowhere, can only be given to me by me.