Spiritual Exercises – Affirmations
Spiritual wisdoms are as old as humanity itself, and one of the best known ones is that saying ‘As a Man thinketh, so is he’.
In 1902, James Allen, a self-help pioneer, wrote and published a literary essay called ‘As a Man Thinketh’, inspired by the verse in the Bible’s Book of Proverbs, ‘As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.’ It paved the way for the practice of positive thinking and affirmations.
The word ‘Affirmation’ is derived from the Latin word ‘affirmare’, which means ‘to make steady, strengthen.’ The companion to using Affirmations, is practicing Mindfulness which is like cultivating the soil of your mental garden.
When the soil is rich and fertile, it becomes easier, even natural, to use positive statements and affirmations to build yourself up when the world gets you down. It takes no leap of faith to make this wisdom work in your life. It’s as real as the atoms that make up matter.
A person who chooses their thoughts and words carefully has far greater control over the direction and quality of their life. But a person who is careless with their words, and goes along with every thought in their head regardless of their quality, will suffer a loss of control.
This is why Affirmations are used by many self improvement practitioners to purify their thoughts. Practised over time, you can rewire your brain to operate in a higher capacity, and it will not default to negative or self-limiting ways so easily. In fact you can virtually eliminate them, altogether.
Some people assert that using affirmations is like trying to convince yourself of an untruth. That is not accurate. Obviously if you are fat, and you tell yourself you are thin, then you are deluding yourself if you are not prepared to back up that assertion with better eating habits and daily exercise.
It’s self-limiting or negative thoughts that are untruths, and at worst, downright lies. Therefore, affirming to yourself something positive is actually the truth, because you are steering yourself away from a thought that is harming you. You can make that affirmation a truth by simply honouring yourself and taking the right action to realise it.
Affirmations are very useful if you struggle with a lack of self confidence, or you feel yourself slipping into a low emotional state. It doesn’t matter if something upsetting has happened, the point is that survival and moving on is what counts. Affirmations help us to stop the tendency to get mentally bogged down by reactive thoughts.
The strength of affirmations lies in the fact that you don’t have to believe what you are saying, when you first use them. You may think you are reaching for the stars, and your affirmation may sound too idealisitic for the bite of reality.
But remember that repetition creates grooves, and with continuous or consistent repetition you will be subconsciously drawn to the power of your words. In fact, the self-limiting words will lose their hold over you because a shift in your brain will enable you to realise that the opposite of the self-limiting thought is just as possible to manifest.
If you start an affirmation but let yourself continue to feel sceptical about it, then the negativity will win out because that fits into a long-standing mental habit boosted by negative feelings.
You need to develop the right habitat in your mind, for the affirmations to take root and manifest abundance in your life. One way to prepare for the use of affirmations, or to bolster them, is to make a habit each day of recalling the things in your life that you are grateful about.
The Power of ‘I AM’
The most effective Affirmations are those that start with the phrase ‘I Am…’. It is based on the principle statement from the Word of God ‘I Am that I Am’.
The origin of the ‘I Am’ affirmation can be traced from the 19th century in America, with Emma Hopkins, a student of Mary Baker Eddy who was the founder of Christian Science.
Hopkins was one of the founders of the New Thought Movement which started in the late 19th century; and by the 1880s, began using the term ‘decree’ to describe affirmations that start with ‘I Am’.
In the 1930s, Guy and Edna Ballard founded the I AM Religious Activity. They were the source for much of the later 20th century teachings of Mark & Elizabeth Clare Prophet. From the 1950s, the Prophets developed a series of I Am decrees which they say were channelled from Ascended Masters. Some controversy arose by the 1990s over their claims and criticism for being cult-like. Maybe ego was their downfall, but the point is – you can shoot the messenger, but the message itself is immutable.
I personally have used the decrees from Elizabeth Clare Prophet’s book, Access the Power of Your Higher Self, and have found them very effective. There is something about the decrees that help people like me who had a well entrenched negative way of thinking.
Here is an extract from Prophet’s book, on page 37:
Decrees make use of the name of God ‘I AM THAT I AM’ [when God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush and revealed His name]. This is why we call the Presence, the I Am Presence.
When you say ‘I AM THAT I AM’, you affirm that God is where you are. In effect, you are saying: ‘As God is in Heaven, so God is on earth within me’. Right now where I stand, God is. ……Each time you use this name, you are making ‘as above, so below’ come true.
Decrees simply use ‘I AM’ rather than the full [version]. You can say:
‘I AM whole.’
‘I AM free.’
‘I AM at peace.’
When you give these affirmation while concentrating on your I Am Presence, you mean ‘I am whole, just as my I Am Presence is whole’.
Prophet’s ‘I AM’ affirmations
When I had a ‘dark night of the soul’ period in my life, the Prophet affirmations helped me steer myself out of rough waters. Here are the ones I used and they work very well if you repeat them and say them sincerely:
For calmness in the face of a storm:
‘I AM the eternal harmonising Presence which nothing can disturb.’
For destructive suggestions or bad atmospheres:
‘I AM invincibly protected against any imperfect suggestion’.
To shut out interference from the nagging ego mind:
‘I AM the Presence of Divine Love at all times.’
When irritated or seriously bothered:
‘I command through the I Am Presence that this be governed harmoniously.’