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Start your day on a positive note
Q: How do you use affirmations in your daily routine?
Through the month of December I noticed that I was waking up feeling uninspired by the day. I had written a post in November about the tools and practices that I use to manage my anxiety. But in a matter of days after posting it, I had fallen off from doing the very things that I wrote would help me. My life force took a hit as I stopped investing in the relationship with my body, with others and with myself.
“...Our brains are good at lots of things, but making us happy isn’t necessarily one of them. Often, Santos says, the brain is an active saboteur. …Natural selection isn’t into us being happy. It would [prefer] we drove ourselves into the ground trying to survive, reproduce, and get the most resources. It’s not in it for joy.”
- Laurie Santos, Yale professor of The Science of Well Being course
My mental health has been on a roller coaster recently which makes it hard for Present Me to follow the insights I shared here in November. I realized I needed a different approach to start my day. Maybe tricking my mind with positive self-talk upon waking would give me enough energy for my daily practices. So for the first week of this year, I experimented with practicing a simple affirmation when I woke up. I would tell myself “Today is going to be a good day” before getting out of bed. By telling myself this in the morning, my unconscious mind started to look for things during the day that were going right to prove that this was true. Instead of noticing moments when my kids were fighting over the break, I started to notice the good interactions - N taking breaks to play basketball outside, K making breakfast for the family, quality family time initiated by the kids through a Mission Impossible movie marathon. This resulted in a shift in my attitude throughout the day.
Last week I also decided that instead of writing a vision or goals for 2023, I would instead just write down two affirmations for myself. One of my learnings from 2022 was how easy it is for my mind to take me down the wrong path. I wanted to see if affirmations could teach my brain to think in new ways - a concept known as neuroplasticity - and shift my mindset to a more positive outlook.
I am confident and capable of achieving my goals.
I am at peace with the present moment and trust in the unfolding of my life.
In the past I had considered different affirmations but never consistently read them to myself. So this week after deciding on the statements, I also wrote them on a piece of paper and put them next to my bed. I plan to start my day by reading them before getting out of bed. I hope that this conscious effort to start the day with a positive attitude will allow me to approach each day with more energy.
Building on my last post, here are my daily mindfulness practices that I hope will sustain me through this year.
Morning practice - Affirmations to influence my FUTURE actions.
Throughout the day - Joy spotting to capture the PRESENT moment.
Evening practice - Gratitude to reflect on my PAST experiences.
"Affirmations? I don't do those!" I said to Mitali when she first mentioned writing a post about it. Something about staring into the mirror and saying things out loud has always felt a bit strange to me. But I have been writing down powerful self-affirming thoughts in my journals over the years. Also, in my quest to raise a strong daughter, I sometimes practice saying positive statements out loud with her (A is strong, A is kind, A is funny, A is loving, A is beautiful).
I realize that writing things down in my journal, no matter how powerful they may be, works for those few minutes or that day. But if the words are not in a place where I can see them more regularly, or if I don't practice saying them out loud then it may not be as powerful as affirmations are supposed to be.
There is another form of Bhakti Yoga that takes this attitude of faith and confidence a step further—the practice of affirmation. The difference between a prayer-demand and an affirmation is this: In prayer we ask for something and wait to see whether or not our request will be granted. In affirmation, we assert our conviction that what we need or desire has already come to pass...If we take a statement of truth and revolve it in our consciousness with continuous will and deep conviction, eventually it gains enough force to manifest outwardly.
Last year, walking the Camino led to one of my insights that my body was strong and was willing to do what I asked of it (more here). Since then I often whisper (definitely an inside whisper and not spoken out loud) either a "thank you body, for always coming through" or simply “I am strong”. Perhaps this is an example of me practicing an affirmation. I believe this has helped me continue to feel an inner strength and gratefulness for my body which is a welcome departure from years spent desiring a different, skinnier body.
The start of this year has felt a little bit different. Last year, at this time I had a vision for the year. This year I haven't really felt the desire to write down a vision or goals and am instead continuing to work on some habits that I put in place last year. I've realized that habits are the foundation I can rely on in this constantly uncertain, changing time. Reading out my affirmations will be a new habit I experiment with this month. Why? Because it is an action I can take in the present moment that helps with my inner state of mind hroughout the day. I plan to take two powerful statements from my journal and put it on a post-it on my bathroom mirror and follow these steps recommended in the yogananda article above.
Begin your practice of affirmation by repeating that thought aloud for a period of time.
Gradually let your repetition become softer and softer, until it becomes a whisper.
Then go on repeating it mentally, with ever-increasing concentration, allowing it to sink deep within.
If you continue this, not just for a few moments but for a long time in meditation and whenever you have a chance during the day, that affirmation becomes very powerful. When you firmly plant a truth in the conscious mind through affirmation, it will take root in the subconscious and come back later to influence your thoughts and actions. And if you go even deeper with your repetition of that truth, continuously revolving it in your mind with devotion, concentration, and will power, it reaches the superconscious mind, and eventually manifests in one's meditation or at another time as a divine experience of healing or realization.
Do message us if you are willing to experiment with us!