A Simple Guide to Developing an Affirmation Practice
I suffer from the mental pattern of spending inordinate amounts of time in thoughts of the future. Not the future thoughts that are helpful for planning your life direction. Instead, I wade through mountains of worries about the uncertainty that is inherent in the unknown future. So I launched into a self initiated “7 Day Now Challenge.” For seven days I wrote “Now” in big bold letters on my hand to remind myself to be present and here is what I learned:
1. There is great power in focusing on something for a finite period of time. Whether it is a 30 day exercise challenge or a 10 day cleanse, creating a bite-size increment of time to develop a new habit has the benefit of making a daunting task attainable.
2. Mindfulness creates a sense of detachment. When we move from being engrossed in our mental chatter to observing it, a sense of ease can move into the space created between the mind and the awareness. This space, this ease, can become a superpower. Enjoy this fabulous explanation video.
3. Observing negative thought patterns does not actually change them. This lesson is revolutionary because it brings to light the innate limitation in mere observation of the mind.
4. To change the negative thought patterns, positive ones must take their place. As Marin Luther King declared so beautifully, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” When we want to affect change in ourselves and in this world, we must invite the light. Replace negative thought patterns with positive ones. This is the practice of affirmations. Satirized by Stewart Smiley on SNL decades ago, positive affirmations are actually a profound practice.
Here is a simple guide to developing an affirmation practice:
1. Create an affirmation for yourself. Look at the negative thought pattern you wish to change and turn it upside down. Write a positive statement that is brief, memorable, and in the present tense. For instance, I took this recurring thought, “What if I never achieve anything?” and turned it into this affirmation, “Success is mine. Divine Mother guides my life.”
2. Write your affirmation down and place it around your home.
3. Bring your affirmation into your meditation. At the end of your daily meditation practice, repeat your affirmation three times mentally, or even audibly. If you do not meditate daily, find a quiet moment each day to say your affirmation. In the bathroom, in the kitchen, in your closet, any moment of solitude will do fine for repeating your affirmation.
Here are a few of my favorite books filled with ready-made affirmations:
- Affirmations for Self-healing by Swami Kriyananda
- Finding Happiness Day-By-Day by Swami Kriyananda
- Whispers From Eternity by Paramhansa Yogananda