How Do We Use Affirmations?
Path to Siva Commentary, Lesson 42
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2018-03-10
Having a positive concept allows us to identify with our inner, spiritual nature so that we truly feel we are a divine being on a perfect path, identifying with the soul. Three keys in terms of affirmation: concentrate on meaning, visualization and feeling. Beholding, remolding the subconscious through Vasana Daha Tantra. The goal is to sit in meditation with a mind that has no thoughts without effort.
Path to Siva, Lesson 42.
Good morning everyone, nice to be back.
Reading this morning from "Path to Siva" Lesson 42.
"How Do We Use Affirmations?
"An affirmation is a positive declaration or assertion that we repeat regularly to bring about useful changes in our life. While repeating the words, we concentrate on the meaning and visualize and feel the desired result. Your words, visualizations and feelings have power. They impress your subconscious mind. When they are positive, useful and creative, they make you more secure and successful in everything you do. Affirmations must be carefully worded to gain the desired effect. The sadhana is to repeat it to yourself for a minute or two, ideally at the same time each day. Silently is good, but aloud is even better. For example, 'I can. I will. I am able to accomplish what I plan.' Repeating this each day programs your mind with confidence and increases your willpower. But just saying the words is not enough. You must feel 'I can! I will! I am able!' Imagine what it will feel like when you accomplish your goal. It is helpful to remember the feeling of success you experienced when you achieved something in the past. Positive affirmations help you face life with optimism. Negative thinking does the opposite. Many people think, 'I can't. I won't. I'm not able.' And, sure enough, they fail. Why? Because they have programmed their mind to fail. An affirmation creates the opposite effect. You see the goal clearly and feel yourself attaining it. Success follows naturally. Gurudeva's other affirmations include 'I'm all right, right now,' 'All my needs will always be met,' and 'I am equal to any challenge I meet.' Affirmation builds a positive self concept. This means knowing that you are a worthy person deserving a wonderful life and fully capable of achieving it. Having such a positive concept allows us to identify with our inner, spiritual nature so that we truly feel we are a divine being on a perfect path."
Then we have Gurudeva's quote here: "Get into the rhythm of the affirmation. This causes strong feelings and impressions deep in the inner mind. Each word has a certain rate of vibration. Feeling is greater than visualization."
This last point in the lesson I think we should look at first. "Affirmation builds a positive self concept... a worthy person deserving a wonderful life and fully capable of achieving it." And why is this important? The lesson goes on to explain: We need to have that feeling before we can identify with our soul. If we don't feel we're a worthy person and capable of having a wonderful life, we feel we're an unworthy person, then it really doesn't work to identify with our soul nature which is even more positive and dynamic and wonderful than just having a positive self confidence. So we need to move, if we have a negative self concept we need to move from that to a positive self concept and then move from the positive self concept by identifying with the soul.
Think which is very interesting in terms of how we phrase something. We can say: "I have a body, I have a mind, I have emotions, I have a soul," or we can say: "I am the soul, that also happens to have a body, mind and emotions," right? That doesn't sound like much but it's a big difference in how it impresses us. So, Yogaswami has this first letter, goes through that same idea. You are not the body, you are not the mind, you are not the emotions, you are not this, you are not that. You are the soul. [Brahmo mi..??] atman. You are the soul. And that's the way we want to think. And to do that we need a positive self concept. And that's important too that we appear [...??] children or influencing eyes of grandchildren that the concept they're developing about themselves and it's the difference between correcting someone's behavior and challenging who they are. Night and day, if someone, say the grandchild, says something inappropriate and you're in the position of correcting them, you could say: "That was a stupid thing to do." Well the mind takes the word stupid, applies it, the child hears the word stupid and applies it to him or herself. That's stupid, I did a stupid thing. But, if we're more careful in wording it, well you say: "What you did really wasn't a wise thing to do but I know you're such a smart person you won't do it again." You word it another way. We don't challenge who the child is. Put the word stupid and somehow respond. So it's very important that that doesn't happen, if it does happen then we have to spend time as an adult undoing it. Taking out negative self concepts that were accumulated because of how we were raised by our parents, grandparents, mother or siblings said to us that we have in that impresses the mind, teachers at school, and so forth. If we've had a lot of negative impressions put in the mind we need to get them out and affirmation is a wonderful way to accomplish that and move if we have one from a negative self concept to a positive one and then from a positive self concept to "I am the soul."
In terms of using affirmations Gurudeva gives three keys which are also in this lesson. It's in the sentence here towards the beginning. "While repeating the words, we concentrate on the meaning and visualize and feel the desired result." So a meaning, visualization and feeling. Another word for meaning that I use is think. In other words, we do an affirmation regularly, every day we do an affirmation, it's like anything else we do every day, we can do it without thinking about it. We can drive to the temple without thinking about it. Say, how did I get here? Cause we've done it so many times the habit mind takes over. You brush your teeth without thinking about it. So if you do an affirmation without thinking about it, it doesn't work. We need to think about the meaning of the affirmation. Just have the mind consciously focus on it. And as I say if we do something regularly it's easy for that not to happen. We need to think or focus on the meaning.
Visualize means to have a specific visualization in mind. The example I use in my keynote is for the one: I can, I will, I am able to visualize, to manifest what I plan. Something like that. I can, I will, I am able to manifest what I plan. So I see, the planning, and if it's remodeling a garage into an office. You're acting out image. So you visualize creating a plan, the drawings, you visualize building it and you visualize what it looks like when you're done. So you look two stages in the visualization, the creation of it which is drawings, the manifesting of it and then the existence of it. So we have to have some kind of visualization which creates a specific example of a general principle which is in the visual, which is in the affirmation. Affirmations are generally very general. So you have to choose a specific example to use in the visualization.
And then the idea of feeling, as it says in this text. Feeling is even more powerful than visualizing. As Gurudeva in his Trilogy lesson on affirmation says: This is the part that is sometimes the power and therefore the affirmation doesn't work. Goes on to explain: To feel now as it would feel in the future when we've accomplished it. We have to imagine the feeling we'll have whatever we're visualizing manifests. And have that feeling in the present.
So when we combine all three, thinking about the meaning, visualizing a specific example and feeling now how we'll feel in the future then those are the keys for the affirmation actually working.
So a related topic is being negative or positive in our thoughts and speech. There's a tendency for the human mind to be more negative than it wants to admit. I don't know why but we tend to err that way. There's a being more positive than we should be, you know being an unrealistic person, always wearing double sets of rose colored glasses; we tend to be more negative than we should be. And sometimes it's just in our thoughts. We're apt to do something and our first though is: I can't do that. In fact you do watch it and have that thought for myself. Or have to do something a certain way and our first thought is: Well that won't work out. This plan isn't "a" list. We tend to have a negative thought more often than we admit. Or the same thing can happen between spouses who've been married a while they, one can, one or both can be, tend to be negative about what the other one is trying to do. Even if it's not verbalized it can happen in thinking: Oh that won't work out. Well even if we think that, impacts the other person. So it's very important to monitor that tendency. Make sure we're not falling into that humanness shall we say of being too negative about things and try and set to be positive. Try and make something work out. You know, somebody else creates it and you're not sure it's going to work, try and make it work out. The future gets seperate. You know simply says that negative on that one. Maybe it's a good time but you just don't fully understand it.
There's a Nandinatha Sutra that relates to affirmations. Sutra 308. Remolding the Subconscious.
"My devotees succeed by remolding subconscious magnetic forces. They purge the dross through vasana daha tantra (which means)--writing and burning past transgressions and current problems--then use positive affirmations."
So it's a two step process. Remolding the subconscious mind through Vasana Daha Tantra which in modern terminology is called journaling: writing down the past, clearing it up and positive affirmations. So affirmations don't work that well when there's a lot of the past tumbling around in the subconscious mind that's not resolved. That's what this is saying. That's why Gurudeva has the Maha Vasana Daha Tantra practice which is asking everyone to write down ten pages for every year of your life. Gurudeva did that when he was finishing something, he was working on it every morning for a long time, see the smoke coming out from his room, first thing in the morning he worked on a few pages, setting a good example there even while he was finishing something and doing the whole thing himself and of course by when he did it, he could actually remember a lot of experiences in his first few years which most people can't remember, in pages for year one, you know. Somehow, he had the ability to remember all the way back you know. When I was in my crib I did this.
But setting that aside, the topic of the sutra is, the overview, beholding the subconscious, the subconscious mind. Samskara chitta is what it's called in Sanskrit and samskara is a natural impression so maybe we should just call it our memories. When we work, when we see something or when we do something the impression goes in the subconscious mind and it creates a memory. Maybe we don't remember it; the impression is still there. We don't remember it means we're not accessing that part of the subconscious mind but it's still there. You know last week we molded it.
Normally when we think of meditation, controlling the mind, we just think of the conscious mind, the intellect in our thought process. Well all I need to do is quiet my thoughts. Mental activity, the restraint of mental activity. Yogas chitta vritti nirodha.
So Patanjali also talks about the the samskara chitta and different ways of remolding it because what is carving the thoughts in many instances is the samskara, the impressions in the subconscious mind, generally things that are unresolved from the past; they're generating thoughts in the future so the two things go together. Subconscious is really generating thoughts like these are things are unresloved therefore if we resolve this in the subconscious mind, what happens? The number of thoughts we have reduces, right? So it's, it's very integral to being able to sit with a mind that has no thoughts without effort. If we're struggling, you know like holding back, the dog is barking at something, we're struggling to control our thoughts, you know we haven't reached what we want to be, we want to sit with a quiet mind. That's the goal. Should be effortless to control the thoughts if we go in far enough and there's not a bunch of samskaras that are unresolved in our subconscious then we can just sit there if we go in deeply enough without "Oh!" That's the way Gurudeva meditated; just go in. He said: "Every once in a while I had a thought, it's like a fish swimming by slowly." That's the goal, right? Every once in a while to have thoughts.
So this is important to it and broading affirmations to show it that it's a way of molding and remolding the subconscious mind. And Gurudeva talks about conscious magnetic forces. So that's "magnet" is one way of thinking about the subconscious. You've heard me say that in a number of talks it's like we have a big magnet inside of us and what happens is being attracted by it. By us. Even random people doing something. Why does it happen? Because we have a magnet inside of us that attracted it. And that magnet is the subconscious. And that's why our karma works. And that will change the subconscious. We're changing what gets attracted to us. So affirmations is one way of changing it in a very specific way. We're wanting certain things to happen and therefore we're putting those images in the subconscious. We're charging them with feeling and visualization and therefore, that would be attracted to us if we go correctly. So it's a magnetic process that we want to become more conscious of, shall we say. It's going on anyway, but we always need to remember particular when things happen our life that we wish didn't happen, we can only blame one person right? That's the self. We're willing to take credit, that's human nature. When things go right we'll take the credit. But when things go wrong we don't want to blame ourself. Always blame someone else. Human nature. But we're responsible for all that just happened and all the things we didn't want to have happen because the magnetic part of us, the subconscious mind is attracting it. So gaining better control over that is done through this process of clearing it out with the Vasana Daha Tantra, keeping it clear through Vasana Daha Tantra, and then when it's is reasonably cleared affirmations are much easier to use effectively.
Well, thank you very much. Wonderful day.