How can we enhance our spiritual way of living? There are a number of ways, but I would like to discuss something called affirmations. These can be very effective in changing things that you do not like about yourself and also to enhance behaviors that contribute to your fulfillment as a spiritual person.
I was first introduced to this practice by a book titled Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain. Her focus was mainly on enhancing one’s material life. For my own part, I have used affirmations primarily for changes in behavior, and enhancement of a spiritual way of living.
The idea is that you send out requests into the universe (or to the subconscious mind or to the higher self depending how you wish to view it). Once the request has been floated, the universe goes to work to make it happen. It is important that you do not have any preconceived notions about how the request should or will be fulfilled. Further, affirmations must be positive statements about a new state desired, not statements about what you do not want to be.
An affirmation is the assertion that something (already) exists or is true. The idea is that if you repeat something over and over with conviction and total confidence that it already exists, then it eventually will come to be.
However, the change will not happen immediately; it takes time for transformation to occur. You must be patient and consistent in making your affirmations. A good practice is to identify a time to do your affirmations at least once a day. For example, I often do them when I take a walk and/or during my daily Tai Chi practice. But you should do them whenever you think of it throughout the day. You can work on them one at a time, or several together, but not more than two or three in a given session. Too many at a time weakens the power of each individual request.
Affirmations can also be done as a sort of meditation where you focus intently on what you are saying in the affirmation and repeat it over and over. They can be said silently or out loud. I like to, at least now and then, say them out loud as I believe this adds a little more impetus to them.
Below are a few examples of affirmations I use, but you are encouraged to compose your own to focus on the changes you want for yourself. They should be brief declarative statements that are easy to remember.
I have perfect faith (in God).
I have perfect harmony between spirit, mind, and body.
I am selfless, generous, and humble.
I have love and compassion for all people and all things.
I am loving, kind, and forgiving to all persons at all times, and in all situations and circumstances.
My personal experience has shown that this process is very effective. I encourage you to give it a try.
A related practice was developed by Eknath Easwaran in a course he taught at the University of California, Berkeley called the Eight Point Program of Passage Meditation. In this practice you repeat favorite lines or passages of scripture whenever you have chance or in a meditative state so that their meaning and the action for which they call becomes a part of you. They become mantras of sorts.
I definitely want to leave another comment here, because I LOVE the topic of affirmations!!!! Now, as always… I end up going on a tangent.
In my opinion, affirmations are nothing more than Desires. You are stating, “in-the-Now-tense,” or present-tense, what you Desire to become. “I am full of love,” is a desire that I have for my existence. The more focused you become on that Desire, the more you intend it to come into fruition, the more you will align with that intention, and thus physically manifest it.
Now, I do believe there is a time and place for affirmations. I believe that in SOME situations, affirmations are actually more harmful than good – but this is a dependent on timing! Let me explain. For example, if you are an individual who has just gotten out of a very abusive relationship, so you decide that you desire to love yourself… (well you’ve already done a huge Step One by getting out of that relationship! but I digress..)…. you may develop the affirmation, “I love myself!” However, if you aren’t “ready” to make that huge of a leap from “Where You Currently Are” to “Where You Want to Be,” saying “I love myself” might actually make you realize just how much you DO NOT currently love yourself… and realizing that huge disparity can actually make you feel much worse! That gap you want to bridge is still quite large, therefore your affirmation may be biting off more than you can currently chew, so to speak.
If this is the case, then it would be wise to choose a more believable affirmation for your current state. Perhaps that abuse survivor would choose to say, “Now, I am free from abuse,” until they really believe they are free. Then, slowly they can move across the emotional spectrum to begin bridging the gap from where they are (self-loathing, undeserving) to where they desire to be (self-loving, deserving). “Now, I am free to be me.”…. “Now, I know who I am.” …. “Now, I am happy with who I am.” … “Now, I am grateful for where I’ve been to create who I am.”… “Now, I love myself.”
Thanks for your comments Alma. What your scenario points out is that it is essential to believe that the desired state exists in you. Affirmations must be done with total conviction to be effective. One must cast aside all doubt and have faith that the request will be fulfilled.