Home Page Asanas Guidelines Aspects of Yoga Pranayama Affirmations Yoga Overview Raja Yoga Extra Gentle What's New



How to Use Affirmations
Nayasawami Kriyananda)

An affirmation is a statement of truth which one aspires to absorb into his life. It has been said that we are what we eat. It would be truer to say, "We are what we think." For our minds express, and also influence, the reality of what we are far more than our bodies do. Our thoughts even influence, to a great extent, our physical health.

No real progress in life ever comes haphazardly. A sportsman must work hard to master the techniques he needs to become proficient whether it’s downhill skiing or climbing Mt. Everest. And a pianist must work at least as hard to master the movements of his fingers, to play with ease the most intricate musical passages.

Living, too, is an art. Unfortunately, it is one to which most people devote little energy. They take life as it comes, and wonder why things keep going wrong.

Thoughts are things. Words, which are crystallized thoughts, have immeasurable power, especially when we speak them with concentration. The mere thought of fatigue is enough to sap our energy. To strengthen that thought by the words, "I’m exhausted," gives definition, and therefore added power, to the thought itself.

The opposite is also true. If one feels exhausted, but suddenly finds his interest drawn to something, (let’s say an old friend from out of town calls unexpectedly) his fatigue may vanish altogether! One is what one thinks. If in addition to that friend’s visit, he verbalizes it with the words, "I feel wonderful!" he may find that, instead of only feeling vaguely better, he actually feels as though he had acquired a new self-definition.

So many of our failures in life, to master a new language, to give up smoking, financial success, getting along well with others, to do well at whatever we want to do–are due simply to the thought that what we want to accomplish is alien to us.

By the same token, many of our successes are the result of fully accepting the new as our own. French, for example, can be learned more easily by the student who absorbs himself in the thought, "I am French," than by the person who says (as children in the classroom often do), "Those people talk funny!" And, again, smoking. As Mark Twain once said, "Smoking is the easiest habit in the world to give up. I’ve done it a thousand times."

The difficulty is that our habits lie buried in the subconscious mind. Thus, even when we resolve to change them, (our annual New Year’s resolution) we find ourselves being drawn back repeatedly, and quite against our conscious will, into the old ways.

Affirmations, on the other hand, when repeated with deep concentration, then carried into the subconscious, can change us on levels of the mind over which most of us have little conscious control.

We are what we think. But far more than what we think on the conscious level. We are the myriad conflicting patterns of feeling, habit, and reactions that we have built up over a lifetime---indeed, over lifetimes---in our subconscious minds. To heal ourselves, we must also set those inner conflicts in order.

Nor is it enough to affirm change on the conscious and subconscious levels. For we are part of a much greater reality with which we must live in harmony. Behind our human minds is the divine consciousness.

When we try to transform ourselves by self-effort alone, we limit our potential for healing and growth. Affirmation should be lifted from the self-enclosure of the mind into the greater reality of superconsciousness.

To be healed is to "be rid of an imperfection." To be perfect is to express the superconscious---the source of creativity and solutions. Therefore, in using affirmations we concentrate on positive qualities which are the solutions to our disease and imperfections.

The superconscious is that level of awareness which is often described as the higher Self. It is from this level, for example, that great inspirations come. It is through the superconscious that divine guidance descends and true healing takes place. Without superconscious attunement, affirmations, like any other merely human attempt at self-upliftment, have only temporary benefits.

Affirmations should be repeated in such a way as to lift our consciousness toward superconsciousness. This can be accomplished when we repeat an affirmation with deep concentration at the seat of spiritual awareness in the human body, the Christ center, which is a point in the forehead midway between the two eyebrows.

In my book, Affirmations For Self-Healing, I have outlined a method for the effective use of affirmations that includes the conscious, subconscious, and superconscious levels of awareness. The first step is to repeat the affirmation loudly to command the full attention of your conscious mind. For instance, the affirmation for success: I leave behind me both my failures and accomplishments. What I do today will create a new and better future, filled with inner joy. Then repeat the affirmation quietly to absorb more deeply the meaning of the words. Then speak them in a whisper, carrying their meaning down into the subconscious. Repeat them again, silently, to deepen your absorption of them at the subconscious level. Then at last, with rising aspiration, repeat them at the Christ center.

At every level, repeat them several times, absorbing yourself ever-more-deeply in their meaning.

By repeated affirmation you can strengthen, and, later, spiritualize your awareness of any quality you want to develop.

Affirmation is only the first step toward self-healing. We must do our human part. Without additional power from God, however, our efforts are forever incomplete. Affirmation, in other words, should end with prayer.

Why should one pray only after repeating the affirmations ? Why not before ? Prayer is always good, certainly. But if it isn’t uttered with an affirmative consciousness, it can easily become weak and beggarly: a plea that God do all the work, without man’s active participation. Effective prayer is never passive. It is full of faith. It matures in an attitude of affirmation.

To become established in any new quality, it helps first to affirm it, following the sequence that I have described. Then, however, offer that affirmation up in loving prayer to God.

It is at the point of our deepest and most positive attunement with Him that He helps us the most. By divine attunement, our resistance becomes minimized, and our cooperation with His grace fully open, willing, and superconsciously aware.


 [Editor's Note:  Affirmations is one of the many enlightening subjects covered in our popular course, Raja Yoga Intensive, taught twice each year.  The text for this course, The Art and Science of Raja Yoga, also makes for good study on affirmations.