“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” — Henry Ford
Affirmations are positive statements of truth that we aspire to absorb into our lives. They share similarities with practices like awareness, optimism, and gratitude but also at least one essential difference: they penetrate much more deeply, helping us take the next step to bliss.
Affirmations, when practiced correctly, reinforce a chemical pathway in the brain, strengthening the connection between neurons, making them more likely to conduct the same message again. Neurons that are routinely fired in a specific pattern strengthen their bond, “wiring together” in a complex network that will be automatically set off whenever properly triggered.
It turns out that affirmations predate the modern self-help movement by about 4,000 years; they have long been incorporated into authentic spiritual traditions for millennia and are not, thankfully, the invention of 1970’s cheesy pseudo-psychologists.
What Are Affirmations?
Affirmations are positive statements of truth that we aspire to absorb into our lives. An affirmation is a statement of a universal truth, not necessarily a local experience. Qualities like love, peace, joy, and wisdom are genuine possibilities for most humans but that doesn’t mean that all six billion of us currently understand or manifest these qualities equally. They are true in the sense that they are potentially accessible to us. It may be a fact that I am currently unhappy but it is a truth that I have the potential for happiness, if only I could figure out how to tap it.
Tips for Working with Affirmations
Affirmations are most effective when planted in all three levels of consciousness: sub, waking, and super. Each of these has a corresponding eye position. By concentrating on different places while doing them, we can seed the affirmation on all three levels. The eye position associated with everyday waking consciousness is open and looking straight ahead (as you are doing right now as you read this or as you interact with the world in your daily, waking life). The eye position that accesses subconsciousness is closed and looking downward, as we do when we sleep, rest, or daydream. The position that accesses superconsciousness is with eyes closed but looking gently upward towards the point between the eyebrows (sometimes called the Third Eye or Spiritual Eye in various literatures). This is the seat of superconsciousness.
The first step is to choose the appropriate affirmation for our goal. Affirmations are helpful with just about everything, not only happiness or bliss. There are affirmations for success, love, will-power, physical healing, forgiveness, patience, humility, courage, peace, success, creativity–even income or work. For our purposes, we’ll focus on affirmations that improve our happiness and directly help us experience bliss.
Repetition is critical, in two senses. During the session itself, we repeat the affirmation again and again. Secondly, it’s important to work with the same affirmation many times over multiple sessions. The more we repeat it, the more deeply the groove is etched into our minds. Work with a single affirmation for at least a month before changing it. Some people use the same one for years.
Great energy and deep concentration are necessary. Our complete, conscious, will, interest, and presence are required.
If you can’t say it out loud because of the people around you, at least say it mentally with as much energy as you can.
You can do them any time of the day. If you meditate, immediately after is a very effective time as your mind is at its most open and alert.
Use affirmations as a defensive weapon. When a negative thought, mood, or situation crops up, a positive affirmation can be used to counteract it. You can even think of it like playing an inner video game—using the positive affirmation to conquer the forces of negativity.
Finding or Writing Your Affirmations
There are many resources for finding affirmations written by experienced, knowledgeable people. Suggestions are available on the companion website for this book.
We can also write our own. If we choose this route, it’s essential to construct them correctly. Otherwise, they might not only be ineffective, they could even provoke the opposite response. Some guidelines:
1. Keep them short and specific.
2. Make them positive. Avoid negative phrasing.
3. Phrase them in the present tense.
The Experiment: Affirming Happiness and Bliss
Here are two sample affirmations.
I am even-minded and cheerful at all times. Joy is my birthright. I radiate happiness to all.
Behind my thoughts, feelings, and mind-river, infinite joy awaits me. The ocean of eternal bliss flows through me, now and forever.
Choose one of the above for now. Later, you can find others or write you own.
1. Sit somewhere quiet, where you can focus without distraction.
2. Close your eyes. Keep your spine erect, chest high. Relax completely. Take deep breaths and exhale thrice. Keep your body as motionless as possible.
3. Empty the mind of all restless thoughts, and withdraw it from all sensations of bodily weight, temperature and sounds.
4. Fill your mind with compassion, determination, and will-power. Cast away anxiety, distrust, and worry. Surrender doubt or disbelief; these are negative affirmations that will undermine your practice.
5. Looking straight ahead with eyes opened or closed (keep them open if you have trouble “looking” straight ahead with your eyelids closed). Say the affirmation out loud in a clear, strong voice, and with enthusiastic energy. If circumstances allow, your voice should be louder than your regular speaking volume. Not necessarily shouting but as loud and energetic as you can muster. Repeat it out loud a minimum of three times–but you can do it as many times as you feel.
6. Continuing to repeat the affirmation out loud, slowly begin lowering your voice, getting softer with each repetition. Saying it in your normal speaking voice at least once, then whisper it at least once. This quieting process is bringing it into your subconscious mind.
7. With your eyes closed (if they weren’t already), now repeat it silently, mentally only. Behind closed eyelids, have your eyes pointed down, as they would when you are resting or sleeping. Visualize the affirmation being planted deep into your subconscious. Repeat at least once like this but you can do it more if you feel to.
8. Now, still behind close eyelids, raise your eyes so that they are gazing gently upward at the point between the eyebrows. There should be no tension or “scrunching.” As if you were looking at a distant mountain peak. Once again, silently, mentally only, repeat the affirmation while looking upward. This plants the affirmation in the superconscious mind.
(c) 2012. Excerpt from The Bliss Experiment: 28 Days to Personal Transformationby Tobin Blake. Due out on May 8, 2012, published by Atria Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.