A Blythe Coach

Say the Magic Words: Musings on Resonant Affirmations, Powerful Phrases, Prayers, Stands, & Mantra

Say the magic words: Please, Thank You, I’m Sorry.
I love you.
Help, Thanks, Wow.

In 2018 I went through a very rocky separation and second divorce. At the time, I was living in Honolulu, working on my secondary teaching credential and teaching in at least three locations every week, plus running an Airbnb in my two guest rooms.

Sorry if this is too much information, but at that time what I ate went right through me and sleep was, let’s say, inadequate. I rode my trusty Honda Shadow Phantom motorcycle to all of my gigs and riding continued to be a joy in my life, though sometimes I was just so damned exhausted that I feared that I would fall asleep behind the handlebars in freeway traffic.

“Focus on the ride” became my personal intention, words that I repeated while on actual rides and also while going through all the actions required to keep alive, to keep my life running, to move ahead though an intensely demanding and emotional time. 

I had no idea how I would make it through this, so it had to be second-to-second, moment-to-moment. Mindfulness of this present moment became everything. The future was up in the air.

I was fortunate to be well-equipped with a wonderful support system, tools, and resources to help me through. I got therapy, wrote prolifically, spent time with loving friends, practiced my yoga and meditation, joined a church community again, participated in Kirtan chanting gatherings (plus free vegan dinner, shout out to Hawai’i Kirtan!). 

My therapist encouraged me to find daily sources of inspiration, lean in to my curiosity and gather quotes, music, and revisit all the structures that I know I need to live my life purposely. I turned to my coaching tools and kept moving forward. 

In this and other life situations, time and again, I have found that words have power, to bring mindfulness, intention, medicine. I am reminded of my Dad’s repeated words of encouragement that comforted me as a child, such as “Take care of yourself and pay attention” and “Everything is just the way it should be.” These still resonate for me!

An academic, poet, and lover of words, I’m continually fascinated by what language inspires, propels, and empowers us.

What language speaks to you?

Podcast 090: Say the Magic Words is the audio version of this article

Devoting Attention

Yoga teachings include the story of Hanuman, whose devotion was expressed in actions as well as the words that transformed him, as told in Alanna Kaivalya’s book, Myths of the Asanas:

“For Hanuman, the object of devotion was Ram, so he chanted his name repeatedly. His poor memory meant that he would often forget his task, or associations, but he always remembered his best friend. And so he began and ended every sentence with Ram’s name. Every spare moment he had, he chanted it. Eventually, every fiber of his being pulsed with Ram’s name, and that perfect attention caused his soul to merge with the object of his devotion to embody love itself, which is why Ram and Sita reside inside his heart.” (p.75)

If every thought is a prayer, what is it that you are asking for or manifesting in the world? I see a connection between this idea and what Jesus said about the focus of our hearts and minds: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” (Matthew 6:21)


Mantra” is one of the eight branches of yoga, and refers to Sanskrit phrases repeated during meditation, either silently or out loud, perhaps with a Japa Mala or string of 108 meditation beads. The Sanskrit sounds in themselves are considered divine, invoking particular qualities of the infinite. Although my experience with mantra meditation is still amateur, I find that focusing on repeating specific phrases can be greatly calming, helps clear my mind, and can be lovely to do either alone or in a group.

There are so very many beautiful and meaningful mantra to explore, but where to start? Perhaps with the classic, “Om,” which in the yoga teachings of Patanjali recorded in the Yoga Sutra is used to describe the so-called Lord of Yoga: “His sound is the reverberating syllable AUM. Repetition of this syllable reveals its meaning.” (Sutras 1:27-8, Yoga Discipline of Freedom: The Yoga Sutra Attributed to Patanjali p.36) Translator Barbara Stoller Miller goes on to explain the technique and meaning of this utterance:

AUM is the primordial sound (pranava), the cosmic vibration. Human beings may reproduce it by extending and strengthening the open compound vowel sound AU with the nasal sound M. The AU is generated deep in the body and is brought out through the nasal M, which then resonates in the head. According to the ancient Indian traditions preserved in the Upanishads, all speech and thought are derived from the one sound AUM. It expresses ultimate reality–in the cosmos, in the Lord of Yoga, and in the individual.” (Yoga Discipline of Freedom p.37)

You can practice the Om mantra with me in this video on YouTube

If you want to learn more about mantra, there are lots of resources on YouTube and in podcast form, such as


Thought-Replacements & Affirmations

Not all positive affirmations are created equal! We need to be careful not to choose disingenuous or inauthentic affirmations that we don’t actually believe on some level and therefore end up reinforcing our lack or whatever it is we hope to create.

In this article from Mind Body Green, psychologist Chloe Carmichael, PhD promotes a “thought replacement” exercise that involves selecting a truthful but positive phrase in place of negative self-talk, noting:

“Affirmations can be quite aspirational, while thought replacements are 100% accurate. Before you settle on a thought replacement, have a deliberate hole-poking session where you try to say, ‘Is there any scenario where this wouldn’t be true? or ‘How can I really refine this?’ so it feels like an airtight thought replacement, and then you use that airtight thought replacement when you start getting certain negative, maladaptive thoughts.” 

This podcast and article from NPR on silencing negative self-talk is also a good one.

Blythe contemplating her powerful stand in a field of flowers
in Cologne, Germany (photo credit Marina Wiegl)

Choose Your Magic Words

As far as phrases go, you may also wish to choose your own words in English, your mother tongue, or whatever best resonates.

If your spirituality has a religious bent, maybe you find solace in a prayer such as the Lord’s Prayer, the Serenity Prayer, scripture, or other teachings.

If you lean toward the witchy, you may choose or write a spell, or articulate a magickal affirmation like these from Kelly-Ann Maddox.

Anyone can look to favorite quotes, poems, and passages of influential and inspiring writings.

Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”
— Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Intentions & Timing

In Yoga Where You Are, Dianne Bondy and Kat Heagberg suggest the following journal prompt: “What is my intention for today? What is my affirmation? (This is a great one to try every day!)”

If your intention is to be present to the current moment, you could choose “be here now” or “just be,” or reflect on qualities you know you can experience currently, such as appreciation, love, or connection.

When is the right time to choose an intention?

Before any meaningful undertaking, such as a yoga or mindful movement class, at the beginning of a project, new stage, season, month, week, or day. Since about 2016 I’ve been choosing a one-word theme or intention for the year, and I have monthly themes that inform my teaching and coaching as well.

Unbothered Wellness has a nice podcast on intention-setting, too.

Coaching Tools

  • Purpose – When you have a clearly distinguished purpose, that can be a powerful word or phrase to be present to. Identifying and working with purpose is a part of my ontological coaching process, and you can also do self-inquiry alone or with a group, such as using the process in this article.
  • Essence, Mission, Vision – The concepts of personal Essence, Mission, and Vision are also related power tools that involve language and bring increased awareness and personal presence. Schedule a coaching session to experience these ontological tools as I leaned them from my Accomplishment Coaching training.
  • Clearing Exercise – a daily practice of expressing thoughts, feelings, body sensations, judgments, then distinguishing empowering and disempowering interpretations, followed by choosing a Powerful Stand.
  • Powerful Stands – what you are bringing to the party of life today or for a given period of time; a place to come from that is timeless and unconditional
  • Sometimes I personally use the Clearing Exercise, but I also often get clear through my Morning Pages, which I orginignally learned about in Julia Cameron’s book and program The Artist’s Way, identifying what is so, freewriting, brainstorming, and making distinctions along the way

Express & Repeat Your Words

Consider Audio, Visual, and Kinesthetic ways to stay present and be reminded of your chosen words or phrases:

  • Record – Write it out, create an audio recording or capture your words of power in your own way
  • Create an Image or Visual – In your mind or in the physical world, choose a representation for your words. What does their invocation look like? Post your words printed or written out, and/or symbols that remind you.
  • Move with It – Involve your senses. Make the experience of repeating your chosen words your own ritual with breath, movement, dance, stretching, or walking, even scents or flavors. Some people find using prayer beads or japa mala helpful in their meditations.
  • Power of Repetition – Setting digital reminders or alarms, scheduled practice/reflection rituals, as well as physical cues can help us remain present to our intended focus.

Meditate and reflect on whatever creates a transformation in your mind!

Reflection Questions

  • What language speaks to you?
  • What is your favorite word or affirmation?
  • Which words do you find yourself repeating when you need strength, courage, or solace?
  • Are there words which you’d like to stop saying to yourself?
  • How would you like to transform your self-talk?
  • What do you want to create that could be supported by a prayer, motto, or powerful words?

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I would love to hear about your current inspirational intention, stand, or words of power as well as the challenges you’re currently facing on social media @ablythecoach 🙂

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