09/18/2014 11:14 am ET Updated Nov 18, 2014

Hairballs, Happiness and Mantras

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There are days when you feel like you're a majestic Siamese cat prancing around in a beautiful shiny coat, and there are others that leave you feeling like a coughed-up hairball lying on the edge of the carpet. No doubt about it -- life can be messy, and it can throw you a curveball when you least expect it. In the words of the immortal Gilda Radner, "I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next."

Once solely the purview of the Birkenstock-wearing, granola-loving ashram devotees, mediation and mindfulness have now entered the mainstream. And with this desire to "be present", yet envision a more "authentic you," comes the need for the language to project that self-fulfilling visualization. Knowing that others are following this path, I thought I would invite you to consider adopting your own transformational mantra.

Thanks to the increased popularity of yoga and meditation, many of us are familiar with the term mantra, yet there is still a lot of confusion about whether a mantra and an affirmation are one in the same. The way I look at it, an "affirmation" is a lifeboat, and a "mantra" is a passport. Affirmations go part in parcel with the self-help movement, as they tend to be positive statements expressed in the first person -- I am enough. I am strong. I am not my past. Mantras come from a deeper place within us, and they do not necessarily express today's truth, but engender pathways to growth.

Before landing on your own mantra, you might want to give some thought to the beauty of language and its ability to transform our thoughts into action. A mantra vibrates your inner energy and breathes it to life. Think of it as giving words to your heart, a voice to your passion, a purpose to the perceived purposelessness.

Forging my mantra, I set the intention to incorporate my mind, body, and spirit into framing a "passport" that helps me to be present where I am, and gives me permission to travel where I need to grow. My mantra has become allowing -- empowering -- opening. By "allowing," I bring the space for me to accept where I am and to acknowledge that the opposite to what I believe may also be true. I view "empowering" as a means to acknowledge that the hurt and trauma in my past can sit with me in the present and serve as a reminder of my resiliency. Empowering also entails a responsibility to others to permit them the space to become who they are meant to be, not who I want them to be. And finally, "opening" creates a channel of connection to the people in my life. Where I once built walls, I now build bridges to hope.

I'd like to leave you with the words of Alice Walker, and the wish that you too find peace in your own mantra -- your passport to transformation. "Some periods of our growth are so confusing that we don't even recognize that growth is happening... Those long periods when something inside ourselves seems to be waiting, holding its breath, unsure about what the next step should be, eventually become the periods we wait for, for it is in those periods that we realize that we are being prepared for the next phase of our life and that, in all probability, a new level of the personality is about to be revealed."