When I was in my early twenties and starting to learn about spirituality, I was very keen on learning affirmation meditation, which is basically about focusing the mind on simple phrases, mantras, or recitations that can help you to think positively, to get rid of bad thoughts, and to change your beliefs.
You might have heard of affirmations from self-help books, like those of Norman Vincent Peale (The Power of Positive Thinking) and Louise Hay (Trust Life).
However, you need to be able to create affirmations properly if you expect them to be effective in meditation. You see, affirmations are all about communicating with your subconscious mind.
We use affirmations to send messages to the subconscious mind. The subconscious then goes about turning your commands into actions.
Brian Tracy [Canadian-American motivational public speaker and self-development author] says, “Your subconscious mind is subjective. It does not think or reason independently; it merely obeys the commands it receives from your conscious mind.”
That’s why we need to send accurate commands to the subconscious. And that is the purpose of affirmations.
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5 Rules for Affirmation Meditation
First we want to create our affirmation. There are five core concepts that go into creating an effective affirmation:
- Create a positive goal
- State that goal is a positive, actionable way
- Make it visual (so when we recite the affirmation, we visualize ourselves taking action)
- Use the present tense (so that we are focused on now)
- Include positive emotions (happiness, confidence, and so on).
Examples of Affirmations that work
1: For exercise motivation: “I am feeling good, sweating at the gym.”
Notice how this affirmation follows the five core concepts
- The affirmation states the goal of exercising at the gym
- The goal is stated in the present tense
- The affirmation includes positive feelings (“I am feeling good…”)
- There’s a visual aspect to the affirmation too, “sweating at the gym”,
- The idea of sweating is also actionable.
2: Affirmation for self love: “I am sending myself love and compassion.”
- It includes a positive goal (cultivating self-love).
- The goal is stated in an actionable way (“I am sending myself love and compassion”)
- There’s a visual aspect because we can imagine ourselves being kind and self-compassionate.
- It is stated in the present tense (“I am…”)
- It includes the positive feelings of love and compassion
3: Affirmation for confidence: “I am standing tall and feeling strong.”
- 1: It includes a goal (feeling strong)
- It is actionable—it makes us want to actually physically stand tall, which is important for our goal of confidence
- It’s visual because we can imagine ourselves standing tall
- It’s stated in the present tense (“I am”)
- It includes the feeling of inner strength
Now you know how to word affirmations in an effective way. Next you need to prepare your mind for the affirmation. This is precisely why we combine affirmations with meditation. We calm the mind first, then use our positive affirmation to create changes.
- Start by creating an affirmation that actually works. You can do that with the guide above. Memorise this affirmation so you can recite it while meditating.
- Sit with good posture. Make sure you are comfortable and that your spine is in good alignment. You can tuck your chin down a little to lightly elongate your neck. Gently close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Take 25 mindful breaths. This will calm your mind and stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system so that you are more relaxed. It will also help to harmonise the brain hemispheres so your creative side and logical side are balanced. Plus, it will reduce negative thinking.
- Recite your affirmation slowly. On your in breath, remain silent and simply focus on breathing. When you exhale, recite the words of your affirmation slowly, so that one affirmation lasts for one exhalation. This creates harmony between your breathing and affirmation.
- Continue to recite your affirmation while meditating. At times you will notice that certain thoughts and visuals come to mind. For instance, if you are using this affirmation to workout, you might see an image of yourself exercising at the gym. Let this image come to your mind and see it clearly. In other words, visualize your goal. This will make the affirmation more effective.
- Sometimes you will experience negative thoughts. For instance, if you’re using this affirmation and meditation to lose weight, you might think, “I’ll never get in shape.” You want to deal with these negative thoughts like you would in mindfulness and Vipassana (Buddhist Insight Meditation). To do this, simply let the thought come and go, and remind yourself that it is nothing more than a thought.
- Continue to meditate on the affirmation for twenty minutes, or for one full mala (108 breaths).
- Open your eyes slowly and continue with your day.
Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations and is the author of four books on meditation. He has been featured in Psychology Today, Breathe Magazine, Healthline, Psych Central and Lion’s Roar.
Paul studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
Paul’s biggest inspirations include Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Jack Kornfield.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison