If y’all are following #CSBookClub on Instagram, you know that I’m currently making my way through The Untethered Soul, a weighty read by Michael A. Singer that explores the questions of who we are, and how we can discover our true identities through consciousness. It’s giving me a lot to think about, and so far, the biggest lesson I’ve gained from it is the importance of using mindfulness to open ourselves up to all the joy that the people and experiences around us have to offer, if only we’d allow them to. I’ve noticed that many of the people in my life who are most mindful have one or more mantras that they meditate on daily and serve as a reflection on how they want to live their life, and it’s got me thinking about the idea of mantras and developing one of my own.

Do you have a mantra? As Gandhi said, “Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” So yeah, our thoughts are pretty powerful, and a mantra can be a practical way to guide and center them in the chaos and busyness of life. Speaking of chaos, this current season of my life (a new baby and a preschooler, a job that I love but that demands a lot of my time, and the desire to continue feeding my marriage and my friendships) has resulted in a mantra of my own: Slow down and stay open. I’ve realized that life can be constantly stressful if I allow it to be, but if I remind myself to slow down and breathe, staying mindful of the present moment and what I’m doing, and opening my heart to the people and experiences around me, the result is energy and joy no matter how crazy my schedule may be. I’d love to hear in the comments: What’s your mantra?

*photo: Tec Petaj for West Elm blog

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Comments (21)
  1. 1
    Tess July 8, 2015 at 10:21 am

    Interesting post, Camille. I’ve always been turned off by so-called affirmations — putting an index card on the bathroom mirror announcing “I am an awesome strong woman!” would only serve to make me laugh every time I saw it…..but a guiding word or phrase to call up during the day might be transformative. For the moment, mine will be “listen”, an action that I sometimes neglect, probably because it requires me to be quiet 🙂

    • Camille Styles July 8, 2015 at 11:39 am

      Totally agree, Tess — I think mantras are only useful when they’re true and personal. And I’m inspired by yours — every year, one of my resolutions is to be a better listener, and it is so much easier said than done!

    • Leslie July 9, 2015 at 9:27 am

      I completely agree with you! Someone recently suggested I tell myself “I am a good and worthwhile person” fifty times a day!! No way! I have a mantra for the spiritual path I walk but I absolutely love “listen.” It’s so important for us to listen to others, to nature and to ourselves, too. Thank you for the sweet suggestion!

  2. 2
    Jennifer Rose Smith July 8, 2015 at 11:04 am

    I have many. They constantly evolve and change and I go through periods of being inspired by different thoughts and quotes. Lately, it’s “Not afraid to be fabulous.” Or, in the words of Dennis Rodman, “Bad as I wanna be.” Those thoughts give me the confidence to wear a daring outfit, try out a new vocabulary word, plan an amazing trip, or walk into an intimidating room. I agree — thoughts are incredibly powerful.

    I also think to the old graffiti mural that was once on the side of the Union Pacific Railroad trestle over Town Lake in Austin: “Focus one point and BREATHE”. Beautiful.

    • Camille Styles July 8, 2015 at 11:40 am

      I love this, Jenn! Whenever I feel timid about trying out something new, I’m definitely going to adopt your Rodman-inspired mantra for myself. 😉

  3. 3
    Mia July 8, 2015 at 11:46 am

    My Mantra: Always be kind. It is amazing what that does for your attitude, if you are constantly reminded of showing kindness to others ( and yourself).

    • Camille Styles July 9, 2015 at 7:00 am

      Yes! So good… and on a similar note, I’ve been reminding myself that “People remember how you make them feel.” It’s amazing what an impact our attitudes can have on those around us. Thanks for the great reminder Mia!

  4. 4
    Mikela July 8, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    This post is very fresh. I’m also reading a book on consciousness, but it takes a long time to get through it, because I try to look closely every important thing. I suffer from panic attacks so mantras are really my friends in the last time. I say to myself: breathe and think again, nothing that bad will happen to you. It helps me, I’m trying to stay focused and positive.

    Great post and great blog. Love, M.

    • Camille Styles July 9, 2015 at 6:59 am

      Awesome, thanks M — that is so true that our thoughts can sometimes be our greatest comfort. “Nothing bad will happen to you” is something we could all stand to remind ourselves of when we’re stressing for no real reason!

  5. 5
    Molly Kendrick July 8, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    I used to think mantras were so corny until I started going to yoga, and then during savasana, my teacher would always say “Let the color inside of you bloom.” And I love that! To me it means that if you follow the color inside of you (I always think that mine is green) it will radiate out of you. I always think of mine as green grass and nature, and I want that to be apparent to others. I know it sounds totally out there, but I’m into it.

  6. 6
    Aleah July 8, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Thanks for your openness in this sweet post! I love poetry, and the opening lines of “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver have become something of a mantra. I have a tendency towards perfectionism (as so many of us do!), and saying those initial lines “You do not have to be good / You do not have to walk on your knees / for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting” helps steer me away from being too hard on myself.

    Beautiful words can have such an effect on our mindset 🙂 Thanks again for sharing!

    • Molly Kendrick July 8, 2015 at 4:18 pm

      Aleah, I cannot even tell you how much I love this! I wrote it on a notecard and put it on my mirror. Isn’t Mary Oliver just the best?!

      • Camille Styles July 9, 2015 at 6:58 am

        agreed – such incredible words. thanks for sharing aleah!

  7. 7
    Lara July 8, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    I have a whole list of mantras, which serve as gentle reminders for me. I keep the list (Mantras I Might Need) on my phone for quick reference. They really do come in handy when I’m about to freak out and go over the edge. 🙂

    I’ll share a few.

    -Am I counting the good things, too?
    -It is only the mind that says ‘Things are not fine as they are.’
    -The choice is in my hands.
    -Also, a fabulous mantra-quote by Rilke, “Let everything happen to you: beauty & terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.”

    • Camille Styles July 9, 2015 at 6:57 am

      these are amazing — thanks for sharing! definitely going to check out that list, too.

  8. 8
    Layla July 9, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    Song lyrics can be fun mantras as they tend to resonate and echo through your mind. For example from Jewel, “in the end only kindness matters”, or from Bob Marley, “sun is shining, weather is sweet, makes you want to move your dancing feet.”

  9. 9
    Chloe Logan July 24, 2015 at 12:08 am

    This is silly, but my mantra is “I’m dynamite.” I tell myself that to encourage and motivate me, and bring me back up when I’m down! I love the idea of having a more meaningful mantra, but I just haven’t found one that I actually live by. I once was just really proud of myself and thought how I’m like dynamite, and it stuck. And it works. 🙂

  10. 10
    Char August 5, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    Maybe this one is a bit long-winded compared to some of the others, but whenever I get frustrated when dealing with people, I automatically remind myself of Albert Camus’s quote from La Peste “…what we learn in time of pestilence: that there are more things to admire in men than to despise.”

  11. 11
    pippi hepburn August 23, 2015 at 10:13 am

    When people act mean or rude, I think of a quote from Isaac Bashevis Singer, “be kind to everyone for everyone is fighting a personal battle.” My daily mantras change. Right now it is “feel pain and fear and just look at it like a thing, and then keep going, Amen.” http://www.pippihepburn.etsy.com

  12. 12
    AMH October 17, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.