“Just one small positive thought in the morning can change your day” Dalai Lama.
Can it really? Do you believe that just by thinking positively we can have a positive attitude and a positive day?
As Robin S Sharma says, “What you focus on grows, what you think about expands, and what you dwell upon determines your destiny”. I’m sure we can all relate to this if we look back to a situation or event that has shaped our lives and unpick the what, why and how of it.
Everything starts with a thought, some thoughts just pass through our mind requiring no further thought or action, whereas others will trigger a whole thought process that will determine our future actions. Some of us will think about things differently or for longer than others might do, and we could all reach different conclusions about the same thought.
But why do we think what we think? How does the brain work? What is the mind? What is the difference between the brain and the mind? Are the brain and the mind related? Can one function without the other? Does one have more control than the other? So many questions!!
There are many factors that influence our thought processes such as culture, upbringing and life experiences, however you will find plenty of people who are on your wavelength and have similar thought processes to you even if you have totally different influencing factors.
Let’s leave neurobiology and psychology for another day and get back to affirmations!
Affirmations are positive phrases or statements used to challenge negative or unhelpful thoughts. When you repeat them often, and believe in them, you can start to make positive changes. They can be used to combat subconscious patterns, replacing them with more adaptive narratives; or in other words positive affirmations can be used to rewire your brain and thinking patterns.
When repeating affirmations you are basically talking to those little voices inside your head and trying to overpower them! I’m sure you have all done it at some point, especially when motivating yourself to do something or to help you get through a situation. Research and studies show that affirmations do indeed work and can provide
a range of benefits for our health and behaviour. The two key things for affirmations to be effective are that they need to be repeated often, preferably everyday, and you need to believe in the affirmation.
How, when and where you choose to repeat your affirmation is a personal choice, there are no set rules for this but as we ideally want to make it a daily habit and for it to have a positive effect on our day, it makes sense to attach it to something in your regular morning routine. Good opportunities to repeat your affirmation are when you are brushing your teeth, when waiting for and taking the lift in your building or while stopped at a red signal. Affirmations should be repeated a minimum of three times in a row but you can continue for as many times as you wish.
Now the big question is what will your affirmation be? Again there are no set rules for this, it could be a general affirmation or specific to something you know you really need to do the inner work on; if it resonates with you, the benefits gained will be more relevant. You will already be aware of some affirmations, “Today will be a great day”, “I can do this”, “I feel energised”, “I am enough”, for more ideas simply Google ‘positive affirmations for <insert your word here>’ and you will get a list to choose from! You could choose a different affirmation everyday, repeat the same one for a week or for a full month; you can also have more than one affirmation if you wish. Whatever works for you and will help you work towards changing your thought patterns.
I have been working with affirmations for a few years now and firmly believe in their power. At a low point and struggling to find my way through some issues after ending an unhealthy relationship, I focused on deepening my yoga practice and began to explore the limbs of yoga called pratyahara (turning inward), dharana (concentration) and dhyana (meditation). I am still learning and exploring but have definitely felt and seen the benefits of having meditation, mantra chanting and positive affirmations as part of my daily routine and life as a yogi. My favourite authors in this field and a great starting point for those new to affirmations are Dr Wayne Dyer, Louise Hay and of course Dalai Lama.
I hope you feel inspired to take a look into the power of positive affirmations and to give them a try. I am always happy to grab a coffee and have a chat if you would like to know more or just want some further direction.
By; Claire Ames, Yoga Teacher