Affirmation is an important principle in spiritual practice, spiritual unfoldment, transformation and healing. Affirmation orients the mind to Truth and also nurtures the Divine Flow. There are three types of affirmation: one to do with beliefs, one to do with commitments, and one to do with spiritual transformation. We will discuss each of these types, but not necessarily in any rigidly organized manner. The polar opposite of affirmation is negation, yet negation is also important along the Path.
Negation actually comes first in spiritual practice, before affirmation. We must begin a spiritual practice or meditation from wherever we are right now, from whatever state of mind and emotion is currently present. Sometimes, or maybe often, we find ourselves wrapped up in some train of thought or some emotional residue from a recent social interaction. Generally speaking, we begin from a kind of dream state (though the dream thinks it is real) or a state of mind/emotion that is engrossed or fixated on something or another. A goal of spiritual practice, then, is to become free from the cage of fixation, liberating mind and heart, in order for mind and heart to be more purely open and expansive. So to become free and liberated, open and expansive, there must first be a negation, a negation of our present fixations, a negation of whatever mental and emotional cage we are in right now. This could be called a rejection, a rejection or denial of all that is holding back our expansion of consciousness, our opening to Love, and the flowering of our inner Spirit.
So first, we must reject, deny, negate all that is false, all that is misleading, and all that is caging and trapping us. The aspect of negation is a denial and rejection of our usual habits or patterns. It is also a denial and rejection of false beliefs. This is needed in order to progress higher on the spiritual path. We must first say "No, not this," before going on to affirm what is True or affirm a higher spiritual path. First deny, negate and reject what you can see is false or limiting.
Of course though, negation and affirmation are actually two sides of the same enlightened moment, since negation is actually motivated and empowered by a new perception or awakening to a greater spaciousness outside the cage. So, rejection [of the present caging] precedes a greater opening of consciousness; yet the flip-side is that a greater opening of consciousness motivates the rejection of staying in the usual cage. At any rate, it is easier to discuss these polar aspects one at a time, rather than flip back and forth in the discussion; yet remember that both aspects are necessarily involved in any true spiritual practice and transformation.
Affirmation is affirming a higher realization of Truth and intentionally following this Truth. It is inwardly saying "Yes" to a higher realization and also saying "Yes, I will" to whatever is perceived as needed according to this new and higher realization. So we affirm the new realization of Truth and also affirm a commitment to making it a reality in our life. Affirmation of Truth is significant in the transformation of both beliefs and character.
At each moment in our lives we hold sets of belief, some true and some possibly false. Examples of false belief would be that one will never be good enough, or disbelieving in the power of love. These beliefs become subconscious habits of mind. So if we hold false beliefs about ourselves or about the world, these false beliefs will hold us back from achieving the higher excellence and spiritual goodness of which we are capable. These habitual false beliefs have inertia and are hard to change. The changing of false beliefs must involve a de-conditioning. This de-conditioning is the aspect of negation, denial rejection, and letting go.
Yet false beliefs must be replaced by true beliefs, which is re-conditioning. It is inevitable that beliefs become subconscious patterns affecting our lives, so it's important to have true beliefs. True beliefs come from higher realizations at times when our mind is clear and free, at times of meditation and spiritual wakefulness. So it is at these times that we can de-condition the mind of false beliefs and re-condition the mind with Truth.
Affirming the Truth, with sincerity and commitment, transforms our mind-of-beliefs and thus transforms our lives. As a result, our perception of reality changes and so does our character and behavior. So, it is useful and important to spend some time and effort in affirming the Truth at times when we have higher realizations and know what the Truth is, regarding ourself or the world around us. It is useful to make the affirmation clear and precise in words, then repeat it often, for this helps to re-condition and strengthen the subconscious mind with Truth. In fact, affirmation of Truth is an important spiritual practice in itself.
Also important is our affirmation of intention and commitment to the higher spiritual path.
add: Affirmation with precise words is effective for healing, as well as for spiritual practice. These phrases of affirmation can be done aloud or just mentally. But our affirmations must be believable. That is, we need to believe what we are affirming. For example, it is no use affirming, "I sing in perfect pitch" if you do not really believe you do. It might be more believable to affirm, "My singing is improving each time I practice." The first affirmation sounds too wishful and unrealistic, but the second affirmation sounds reasonable and believable. Of course though, what is reasonable and believable will depend on the individual person. Sometimes we must work through an inner dialogue or even argument within ourself, in order to arrive at a belief agreeable to our rational sense of truth. This may seem odd to speak about beliefs in this way, but this is because most of us have a few differing voices and viewpoints within ourself, as for example when one part of us seems to believe while another part of us seems to doubt. This inner divisiveness should not be considered pathological, for it is part of the inner-working process of healthy sane people, as long as we keep trying to work out our inner uncertainties and inner conflicts, and seek to achieve more harmony and unity in oneself. Just as it takes effort and process for a group of people to work out their differences of belief, so too it takes effort and process for each individual to work toward a unified inner agreement as to what is true. All this is part of the affirmation process.
Affirmation helps re-condition the mind towards Truth, so that the beliefs held by the subconscious better reflect Truth realized in meditation or spiritual practice. Affirmation is a changing of false beliefs into true beliefs, a transformation of belief. It can also be a transformation of attitudes, desires, character, and commitment; but these other types of affirmation will be discussed a bit later. For now, let us study how beliefs can be transformed for the better, or how our beliefs can evolve to truer beliefs. As already mentioned, beliefs get embedded in the subconscious to become habits of belief. This would be alright if all our beliefs were correct, but unfortunately some our held beliefs could be false and also not helpful to our lives. Subconscious beliefs are most hard to recognize, simply because they are sub-conscious. But if we can make an honest study of our beliefs, whenever possible, our subconscious beliefs will begin to emerge into awareness.
The first principle in dealing with our beliefs is to critically examine them, by asking ourself whether a particular belief is reasonably supported by our actual experience. Many beliefs held by people are generalizations that have been accepted from parents or society or from other kinds of authority. This is called social conditioning, or it could be called imitation or introjection (which is swallowing what others say is true, without any chewing on it or critical examination). Another kind of held belief was made in our childhood, as a reaction or an attempt to understand difficult circumstances. Both these kinds of belief need new examination, where upon many of the beliefs will be seen as false. Certain forms of psychotherapy can work with this, but here we will consider how spiritual practice and meditation can lead to the transformation of our false beliefs.
Consider for example a belief that one is unloved. This is an extreme example, but it can be illustrative and related to other examples of false belief. The belief in being unloved is false because Love is all around us and also within our inner soul. But how can this false belief get transformed? We need to have a direct realization that we are loved, or that we are loved within the Universal Divine Being. If we practice meditation and open ourselves to the experience of Love, we will directly realize we are loved and in the Presence of Divine Love. Through meditation, we can directly experience Love and being loved. Such a direct realization/experience is the first step in the transformation process. But now that this realization has been attained, in a higher or deeper state of consciousness, it has to work its way down into lower levels of the mind. The higher intuition needs to come down into the level of belief, transforming this lower level of mind, and ultimately transforming the subconscious mind. This requires some inner work, and affirmation is part of this work.
Our higher realizations of Truth, in those special times of meditation and intuition, are powerful yet often fleeting into the realm of forgetfulness. This is why these realizations must enter into our daily mind and also into the subconscious mind; for only then will they become efficacious in all aspects of our life. What we must do is affirm the realized Truth with all our consciousness and sincerity. Affirm in mind, with complete sincerity and supporting experience, that this IS True, and hold this affirmation of Truth in mind and heart as long as possible. Actually feel this affirmation transforming the whole depth of mind. Sincerely acknowledge, in heart and mind, that this realization is the Truth. In this way, any false beliefs are transformed into Truth. Thus, affirmation is the mediating transformer between higher realizations and held beliefs. Our beliefs need to evolve into being more in line with Truth, and practiced affirmation of our higher realizations will transform our beliefs into Truth. By remembering and affirming our higher realizations, these Truths will soon become a constant reality in our lives.
We can also affirm new intentions and commitments, based on our higher realizations; such as a new intention/commitment to love, or be in line with Higher Purpose, or accomplish a needed work. This affirmation of commitment is saying, in effect, "Yes, I will." But intentions and commitments are not completed by mere affirmative words. We must also act upon our intentions. We need to direct our energies towards accomplishing the intention. We need to move some energy and get something done. This is using our will to complete an intention. A good first step in directing and moving energy is visualizing both the goal and the process for completing that goal. Visualization is a useful tool for directing energy and completing intentions. Combine visualization with the affirmative commitment of "I will," and the needed energies for achievement and completion are on their way.
We want to be able to direct the body and direct our energies, in order to get things done.
This is like getting all of ourself working on the same task.
riding the horse, instead of letting the horse drag us around. This means having intelligence be on top, riding and leading the horse. Better still, may our spiritual intention (or higher self) be on top and leading the way. Using the model of higher and lower levels of being, it makes sense that the higher should be on top, leading and directing the lower.