There is no escaping it. To enjoy the rewards of a spiritual quest, you need to practice a daily spiritual discipline. Some people like to meditate. Others are better served by reading books or listening to tapes. Many choose quiet reflection during a walk in the woods or while tending their garden.
Affirmations do the trick for me. In just a few minutes, they can help get me centered and grounded no matter where I am or what I’m doing, whether it’s standing in line at the grocery store, sitting at my desk at work, or driving across town. The regular use of affirmations helps me maintain a strong and consistent connection to the deep love. I hope they work for you, too.
WHAT IS AN AFFIRMATION?
As Shakti Gawain wrote in her groundbreaking book, Creative Visualization, an affirmation is a strong, positive statement that something is already so. The key word here is “positive.” It’s important to affirm what you do want, not what you don’t want.
For example, an ineffective affirmation would be, “I no longer spend my money foolishly.” That’s a constant, negative reminder that you used to waste your money. A successful affirmation does not recall past troubles. It’s a positive statement phrased in the present tense that strongly implies that, from this moment forward, you will be choosing a better way. A more effective affirmation would be, “I spend my money wisely.”
Two more reasons to stay positive: the mind thinks in pictures, and whatever you focus on grows stronger. How does that work? If you’re focused on “not being broke,” the word “not” is cast aside and your mind’s eye visualizes you being broke. And since that’s what your mind is focused on, that’s what will be brought into your life. So visualize yourself in the circumstances you desire, not those you’re trying to avoid.
THINK IN PRESENT TIME
Notice I didn’t suggest the phrasing, “I will spend my money wisely.” If an affirmation becomes a promise to change at some undetermined point in the future, rather than a statement that the change has already been made, it won’t be nearly as effective.
Think about it. If you affirm, “I will spend my money wisely,” that implies that, starting that afternoon, or the next day, or the day after that, you will finally begin to spend your money wisely. In other words, there’s a giant loophole that gives you free reign to continue to spend your money foolishly until you decide at what point in the future you’re ready to change your spending habits.
That point, of course, may never come. Saying “I will” day after day is a promise you never have to fulfill. If you’re creating a change in the future, that’s where it will remain, in the future. You’ll never catch up to it. Beginning an affirmation with “I will” is simply a way for you to avoid having to make the change in the here and now.
Similarly, never use the words “I want” in an affirmation. When you begin an affirmation with the words, “I want,” you’re coming from a position of lacking whatever it is you want. Remember, the Universe is basically a giant copy machine. It doesn’t judge your desires, it simply responds to your thoughts by giving you more of the same, just as a waiter will obediently bring you whatever you order without asking you to justify its nutritional content. Therefore, if you say, “I want lots of money,” rest assured that you will continue to have the experience of wanting lots of money. You will always be “wanting” and never “having” because you’re affirming that you “want” the money, not that you “have” it already.
I SAY AFFIRMATIONS, THEREFORE “I AM”
A very powerful way to begin an affirmation is by using the words, “I am.” Again, the Universe doesn’t judge, it simply responds. “Okay,” says the Universe, “if that’s what you are, I’ll give you experiences that support that statement.” The affirmation, “I am thoughtful and considerate,” is a far more potent statement than “I will be thoughtful and considerate” or “I want to be thoughtful and considerate.”
But, you might protest, I don’t now spend my money wisely and I am not as thoughtful and considerate as I’d like to be. So isn’t it untruthful to phrase those affirmations as if I have already made those changes?
Not in the least. You’re not lying to yourself, you’re programming your subconscious. And each time you repeat an affirmation, you‘re positively reinforcing that programming.
An affirmation is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Gradually, through the consistent use of affirmations, your conscious intent is absorbed by your unconscious mind. Over time, you grow into and finally become the person you had hoped to be.
Telling yourself, “I am thoughtful and considerate” or “I spend my money wisely” day in and day out can’t help but change these attitudes about yourself on a very deep level. Affirmations are a safe, easy and effective way to reshape the way you look at the world.
As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.
Henry David Thoreau
Remember, too, that your soul, your essence, that spark of God within you, is perfect and magnificent. So no matter what you affirm, whether it’s, “I am radiant health” or “I am eternal youth,” your statement will indeed be true on the deepest, most meaningful level imaginable. Consider these affirmations as simple reminders of your true nature.
THE ATTITUDE IS GRATITUDE
Some people prefer calling an affirmation a prayer. That makes a lot of sense. Affirmations and prayers are both ways of asking for divine guidance. But the way you ask for this guidance is crucial. You’ll get far better results if you thank the Universe as if what you are asking for has already occurred.
For example, instead of, “God, please show me how to control my weight,” say, “God, thank you for showing me how to control my weight.” The distinction is a powerful one. Again, it’s a question of having the carrot stick always positioned just beyond your reach versus taking firm control over your life right here and right now.
Thanking the Universe for what you’ve been given also attracts more of the same. The universal Law of Attraction will see to that. If you express your gratitude for the good health you are enjoying, you greatly increase the odds that you will continue to radiate robust good health.
What’s more, using affirmations and prayers to thank the Universe for all you’ve been given will help you develop a prosperity consciousness that will naturally attract greater abundance into your life. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is one of the most important steps you can take toward living a joyful, loving life.
FEEL IT IN YOUR BONES
Affirmations can be repeated silently, spoken out loud or even sung. Some swear that writing down an affirmation significantly increases its power. Paramahansa Yogananda, author of the spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi, recommended that an affirmation be said repeatedly, first in a loud voice, then gradually softer and slower until your voice becomes a whisper. Then keep affirming it mentally only without moving the tongue or lips until you have attained deep, unbroken concentration.
Yogananda’s method is a powerful one because the potency of an affirmation lies not in the words themselves but in your relationship to them. Feel the energy of each word as you say it. Let each affirmation resonate within you until it takes root, repeating it until, as Yogananda wrote, “you at least realize the meaning of the utterance in every fiber of your being.” Creating an accompanying visualization can make an affirmation even more effective.
Granted, there will be times when circumstances don’t allow you to give your full concentration to your affirmations in an atmosphere of complete peace and tranquillity. In fact, those circumstances may be the rule rather than the exception. If so, just try to squeeze as much meaning out of each affirmation as you can. I often repeat affirmations while I’m driving. I may have to repeat an affirmation two or three times to absorb its full meaning but it’s still an effective way to get more centered and ready for whatever comes your way.
AN AFFIRMATION A DAY KEEPS THE NEGATIVE CHATTER AWAY
How often should you use affirmations? That depends on how far you’ve traveled down your spiritual path. For six months, I repeated a long list of affirmations every morning, every night and whenever I could throughout the day. It took me that long to get on track and stay there. As I consciously devoted more and more of my waking thoughts to attaining and maintaining a connection to the divine, I found that my need for affirmations diminished.
Affirmations, after all, are simply a tool. I still use them on a daily basis but I now supplement them with meditation and other spiritual practices. As Eckhart Tolle noted, affirmations are signposts; once you reach your destination, they are no longer needed. That said, the day I no longer need to use affirmations will be the day I achieve complete, unbroken communion with the divine. A lofty goal indeed!
You’ll find that affirmations are a wonderful way to counterbalance years of bad mental habits and the negative internal chatter that plagues us all. Besides, if you’re going to talk to yourself anyway, you might as well have something positive to say!
The habit of viewing things cheerfully, and of thinking about things hopefully, may be made to grow in us like any other habits.
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Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, is a road map for living a more peaceful, beautiful life. It’s the one book that explains how dozens of spiritual principles interact, how to weave them together into a cohesive worldview, and how to practically apply this spiritual wisdom to daily life.
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