I’m sure you have heard of the power of positive thinking. Easy enough to dismiss, yet, setting a clear intention and reminding yourself of the positive outcome you would like does makes a difference. Let’s look more carefully. “Affirmations help purify our thoughts and restructure the dynamic of our brains so that we truly begin to think nothing is impossible”, says Dr. Carmen Harra, a clinical psychologist.
Evidence continues to mount that our brains do grow in response to the thoughts that we have. This growth is called, “plasticity.” Our neural pathways can play a role in determining our thoughts to some extent, and this reinforces thought and reaction patterns as our neural networks grow. When we meditate or when we repeat positive affirmations, our brains find it easier to return to these pathways. So choosing to repeat phrases or to focus on positive thoughts over time will reinforce these patterns in our brains. Positive affirmations and other positive thinking techniques help develop a positive outlook on life and are essential to a healthy life. Affirmations help focus healing and certainly speed up the healing process.
The word affirmation comes from the Latin affirmare, originally meaning “to make steady, strengthen.” When we find ourselves weakened through illness or painful experiences, setting our minds on a positive outcome and repeating a simple phrase has the effect of steadying our thoughts, reinforcing the outcome we so desire. My first experience with using an affirmation for healing occurred after I read Dean Ornish’s, Program for Reversing Health Disease, in which he describes the use of affirmations. I discovered my cholesterol had risen above 200, going up to 225 actually. Following Dr. Ornish’s program, not only did I initiate a low fat diet, I began to repeat to myself at least three times a day, “My cholesterol is 175.” That’s it! 2 months later, my cholesterol was 175. You might say, well he was dieting, and indeed, I’m sure my diet helped. What fascinated me was that my cholesterol hit the target number exactly.
I then spent three months repeating “Every thing is perfect the way it is.”
I come back to that affirmation every now and again, it’s a good reminder when things are not going my way.
I’ve also spent considerable time doing Metta, which is a Buddhist technique that might as well be called affirmations.
An oft recited Metta stanza is:
“May I be filled with loving kindness,
May I be well,
May I be peace and at ease,
Try it now, sit with your eyes closed and repeat this line, if you can’t remember the four stanzas just repeat “May I be filled with loving kindness.” After 20 minutes a day for a week or two, you may notice the gentle changes that will occur in your attitude as well as your experience of others.
Specifically, in the healing context, affirmations can be used to focus the mind on getting rid of symptoms, or on a positive outcome. I prefer a positive outcome myself, so when I’m not feeling well, I often construct a simple repeatable phrase I can say in my head several times a day. More recently I’ve taken to repeating an positive affirmation three times in a row, three times a day looking in the mirror. This seems to strengthen the effect of the affirmation.
The key to any affirmation is to keep the phrase in the present, and to focus on the positive. Instead of saying, “I will get”, replace that with, “I am” or, “my life is.” Always be clear and specific as to the outcome you would like, such as, “I run a four minute mile” or, “I recover from my cold quickly and easily.” It’s usually worth doing an affirmation for at least a week, but for deeper patterns of healing 3 weeks is a minimum. Often, after three weeks of repeating a phrase, it becomes a part of how I construct my day, then it’s easy to continue on for weeks and months. I can tell as I repeat the phrase that the meaning is seeping into my bones.
Optimal healing is often improved significantly by focusing one’s mind with clarity and positive thoughts. Creating a positive affirmation is an easy and reliable way to do this focusing while allowing yourself to be clear on the results you seek to achieve. I encourage you to pick a phrase and repeat generously throughout the day. Please do let me know how this impacts you on your path to strengthening your healing capacity.