Category Archives: Psychology

Words to fill your mind: the power of a mantra.

The words that fill our minds...

We all have words that we cycle on repeat in our minds—from worries about being late to songs we sing or words we repeat. Don't be late, don't be late, don't be late, we repeat to ourselves as we rush from subway to office to meeting to appointment. Gotta finish, gotta finish, gotta finish—it builds across our mind like a chant, a pull to keep us focused long enough to finish the day or the project.  

"What we think, we become." —Buddha 

What is a mantra?

A mantra is a basic sound used in meditation and chanting, and more simply, in our daily lives. At its root, a mantra means "mind tool." The root man- means mindtra- means protection or instrument. Anodea Judith, in The Wheels of Life, describes a mantra as "a tool for protecting our minds from the traps of nonproductive cycles of thought and action." She writes:

"Mantras serve as focusing devices for making the mind one-pointed and calm."—Judith 

Have you ever heard a young kid gleefully say the same thing over and over again? "This is so COOL!" They exclaim, only to repeat the same thing again a few minutes later, and again a few minutes later. Our minds hold words and ideas captive, guiding our thoughts with simple patterns that we often repeat on cycle. Sometimes it's negative:

Dumb, dumb, dumb. That was dumb. Why did you do that?

And sometimes it's positive:

Awesome, awesome, awesome. Nailed that! Whooo! Yes. Awesome. Awesome, awesome. 

And sometimes we get a peaceful song noted in our minds—a song that sticks, webbed words woven into our invisible frameworks.

Oh what a beautiful morning... Oh what a beautiful day...

Try it yourself:

A beautiful way to start your day is with a small mantra. Try a notecard taped to the side of your bed, a post-it on the inside of your wallet, or a scribbling on your daily diary. One of the reasons I write so many notes and doodle all over instagram is to remind myself and repeat words as I imprint them into my being.

What phrases would you love to embed in your mind? What new mind patterns and habits would be soothing or helpful? Perhaps during times of stress, "This too shall pass;" or "This is just but a moment." These short phrases are powerful tools to build into your inner mind strength. Sometimes I like to hum to myself, "zoom in, zoom out,"—the vibration of the z buzzing against my lips, the mmmm a buzz deeper in my ribs and belly. (Try it: humming is delightful).

"Zoom in, zoom out. It's nothing in the macroscrope, it's nothing in the microscope." 

The vibrations of actual sound — joyful noises, as I like to call them — do more than just warm up our vocal chords. They are a means of expression, and they help to settle our mid-bodies.

How do you use language to protect your mind? Do you chant, sing, or hum each day? Do you have a phrase you love to hold on to?

What words are you telling yourself? Listen in.

Hustle is a dial, not a way of being.

There are appropriate times to hustle in your business. Sometimes you’re hustling for a year or two on the side, creating your escape route and freedom business to jump ship from your corporate job. Sometimes you stay up late and hustle the night before a course launches, or when you’re putting the final tweaks onContinue Reading

Project hangovers, self-criticism, and the necessity of making messes.

I have a confession. Sometimes–more nearly like every time–after finishing a project, I hate it. My writing class? Sucks, obviously. Last week’s essay? Good God, that could have been better. All those open and empty drafts waiting to be finished? Seriously, could have worked harder to get those done.  And on and on… My brainContinue Reading


When did someone sit down and promise you that it was supposed to be easy? Or better yet, fair? It’s not guaranteed to be easy or fair, and the people who get what they want go after it–in spite of and because of–each and every advantage or disadvantage they are thrown.Continue Reading

The masks we wear–how we hide who we are.

We all wear masks from time to time: in our words, our habits, and our practices. We have an arsenal of crutches and shortcuts that slowly but surely hide who we are. They are things that prop us up and help us hide. We hide from our feelings and our desires. We hide from whoContinue Reading

“You can have everything you want.” But also: “You will never be enough.” Two cultural themes that need to be reconfigured.

Are we being taught to want everything and never be happy with anything that we get? Why these two cultural mindsets don’t serve us–and how pervasive they are in our everyday lives.Continue Reading

How do you find the people that are right for you? Hint: it’s all about energy.

Ever been at a party and felt like you were completely exhausted? That you couldn’t stand to keep your eyes open for another minute, even though it was supposed to be an amazing party? Likewise, have you ever stayed up almost all night, focused and driven, surrounded by brilliant people and creative ideas? Energy comes in limited quantities. Who you surround yourself with–and what type of energy they feed you–is crucial to doing your best work.Continue Reading

The art of asking: 21 ways to ask for what you want and get it (with sample questions, email templates, and word-for-word scripts).

“If you don’t ask, the answer is already no.” What does it take to ask for what you want—and then get it? There seems to be a magical art behind creating a great ask, and we all know stories of people who seem to get exactly what they want whenever they ask. Magicians who bendContinue Reading

How much should you share with the internet, anyways?

This is the third in a series of posts about building your voice on the internet and making work that sees the light of day for people who have been wanting to blog, create, make, or write. I host a quarterly writing workshop for people interested in learning more about storytelling and writing. The class willContinue Reading

Are you too in love with a dream to make it real?

What’s your big, scary, hairy, crazy, totally unrealistic dream? The one you wish for fervently and find yourself thinking about on and off while wandering? Where does your mind go when you daydream?  That big dream, that thing in your mind–the really big one. Yes, that one. Have you thought about making it real? Making itContinue Reading