Meditation and daily affirmations that stick

new year 2014“Should old acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?” – Robert Burns (c.1788)

Hands were raised with champagne filled glasses in anticipation of the first of twelve chimes to set off another new year. An intoxicating feeling of awareness led to resolutions, once-a-year affirmations to self-actualize what we truly wished to see successful this time ‘round.  January turned to June and June to November, resolution still unmet.  What went wrong?

The enchantment of New Year’s Evening is how I would best describe meditation and the practice of affirmation. Meditation is the practice of coming to see one’s true potential and how we fit in the aerial view of the world.  Affirmations help us to achieve what we learn during meditation. Sound complicated? Not really. Think back to your last New Year’s celebration. A temporary state of awareness allowed you to understand what you authentically wanted for yourself.  And, you knew what needed to happen to make it happen.

Perhaps, your intentions were practical, “I want to go back to school to earn a degree.  I’ll be able to get a better job and better provide for myself.” Or, more intrinsic, “I want to write that novel I’ve had in mind.  I really miss expressing my creativity.” Maybe, more family centered, “I want to better connect with my family.  I’m going to start a family dinner night.”  Maybe your intention relied a little more on life’s good timing, “I want to meet the love of my life. I plan to be open to meeting new people to find this person.” So, why were admirable affirmations dropped alongside the ball in Times Square?

Meditation and daily affirmation.

Meditation dates back to classical yoga. Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtras, written roughly two thousand years ago, describe the act and purpose behind classical yoga and meditation. There have been many translations of the sacred text and to paraphrase, classical yoga was described as a series of asanas, the Sanskrit term for pose(s). Originally, practitioners harnessed meditation by yoga to achieve the ability to sit comfortably for long periods of time.

In essence, yoga helps us to meditate. Meditation aids in understanding that who we are.  Affirmations help us to realize action based on those meditative findings.

So, as Burns’ famous New Year’s song suggests, “Should old acquaintance be forgot…?”  Yes.  Meditation never leads to a past or a temporary present state of self.  To see one’s true self is to see you as you always have been without perception. Once in the process of being understood, daily affirmations can help your actions match your core potential. And, why are daily affirmations more effective than yearly affirmations?

Two reasons.

The first, life circumstances change constantly. It is just plain fact there are some things in life, which we cannot control. You meant to research courses of study at the local college but the kids’ basketball practice ran late and you had to get dinner made as soon as you arrived home.  You meant to begin writing your novel but your current job required overtime for months on end.  You started family dinner night but eventually your guests couldn’t make it because of scheduling.  And, you wanted to start dating again, until you became discouraged when a few dates disappointed.

The second, just as we cannot contain changing circumstances, we also cannot control how this makes us feel. Emotionality leads to distractive thought and all of a sudden, our whole mind is preoccupied with everything except our yearly affirmation.  With a consistent meditation practice and daily affirmation, we better manage that which we cannot control through constant reminder.

Meditation and daily affirmation are methods of managing the aspects of life we cannot control.  Manage thought and you are better able to manage action. And, what’s the actual definition of empowerment? Empowerment is the ability to act upon that which we think.

Now, that’s a toast worth raising a champagne glass. Cheers!

Meditation Exercise: Sit in Easy pose or Corpse pose.

Easy pose or in Sanskrit, sukhasana is a cross-legged seated position on a mat or comfortable surface. Shoulder blades rolled back and in.  Chin slightly tucked with the gaze or in Sanskrit, drishti, in front of you. Palms are face up on the knees to receive the energy surrounding you or faced down on the knees to close off from what surrounds you.

Corpse pose or in Sanskrit, savasana, is lying down on your mat or comfortable surface in utter relaxation with the gaze or drishti up at the ceiling. Hands and feet fall to the sides of the body.

Breath should be evenly paced and deep.  Breathe in through the nose and out of the nose for even counts of five or more.

Eyes can either be closed or open.  If you are in Easy pose and choose to keep the eyes open, soften your focus and stare down in front of you about six inches in front of crossed legs. If you are in Corpse pose and choose to keep the eyes open, focus drishti on an object.

Begin to bring awareness to the crown of the head and to your mindset.  Acknowledge your thought then begin to manage.  Every time a thought enters your mind keep your focus on your breath or your drishti.  If the eyes are closed, stay focused on breath.

Practice for as long as your schedule allows daily with intent to increase length of practice over time.

Daily Affirmation Exercise 

The awareness achieved from a consistent meditation practice can be quite powerful.  Begin transcribing your experiences in a journal or daily log.

Notice if there are any trends in your experiences.  You could be onto a part of yourself that requires acknowledgment and affirmation.

Once you are aware of your affirmation, verbalize it daily.  Say it out loud or to yourself.

If either of those methods do not work for you, write your affirmation on a piece of paper and post it somewhere visible where you are able to read it every day. Eventually, life’s good timing will start working with you. You will also start believing in your intention and working towards it practically.

Image courtesy of naypong /