Affirmations, Prayer, and Intent

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on my approach to affirmations. I want to expand on that article today, adding the concepts of prayer and intention.

Wands.jpg
The magician, colored pencils. Based on Pamela Colman-Smith’s original from the Rider-Waite tarot deck.

I’ve used affirmations daily for little over a year now, and they’ve changed my life. It’s been gradual but profound. The way I see it, repeating positive, loving statements to yourself is a way of rewiring thought patterns. Negative thought patterns are made habitual by constant repetition, and it stands to reason that the more we repeat positive thought patterns, the more habitual they will become.

But repetition of a particular affirmation is meaningless without meaning, or emotion. When repeating an affirmation, for example I love myself unconditionally, we must find the feeling of love within ourselves and radiate it throughout ourselves, effectively visualizing the affirmation.

Affirmations

I used to repeat my set of eight affirmations seven times in rapid succession, without actually giving myself time to actually feel the meaning behind them. I now repeat them only three times, instead inserting a pause between each of the eight affirmations where I consciously visualize or feel the meaning of each affirmation in my body and mind’s eye. I’ve started noticing good results only a few weeks after implementing these simple changes. For those of you who haven’t read my first article on affirming reality, here are my affirmations:

I am free from all addiction

I am healthy, wealthy, and content

Every day, in every way, everything gets better and better

I love myself unconditionally

I feel my inner peace deepen every day

Riches flow toward me from all directions

I am conscious and mindful

I deserve all good things that come my way

I’ve also added two different forms of affirming my reality, with prayer and intent. I call them forms of affirmations because I see them as variations upon a theme of reprogramming thought patterns.

Prayer

Prayer has some unfortunate religious and dogmatic connotations. To my mind, the difference between an affirmation and a prayer is really just to whom or what the words are being directed. In affirmations, we are directing our thoughts to our immediate state or circumstances, whereas in prayer we direct our thoughts to a higher power, whatever that might be.

To those of you with reductionist leanings, this is where our philosophies differ, because I see myself as more than the sum of my part, as well as the universe around me. If directing a prayer to something ineffably wiser and more expansive than yourself is for whatever reason unthinkable to you, then skip it.

Really, just do what you want to do. I will say though, that in my experience, prayer can be an immensely calming and humbling activity, whether or not there is a higher power.

The only prayer I’ve used is one that I made up for myself, and you’re free to use it for yourself. However, I’m pretty convinced that creating affirmations and prayers for yourself is a lot more beneficial than using someone else’s, if only because different words have different meanings for different people. Only you know yourself well enough to know what to pray for. Here’s mine:

Grant me the strength to withstand all temptation, to overcome all fear, and to live in eternal love.

Simple but effective, right? I repeat this slowly to myself three times, giving myself ample time between words to truly feel the meaning behind them. Meaning is key in all work with thought patterns.

Intent

The most recent addition to my own thought-pattern work has been intent.

Intent is similar to affirmation in many ways, but I guess that the way I use this particular tool differs in that intent is more specific to where I am here, now, while my affirmations tend to be more general.

I use the concept of intent to shape each day of my life. My intent for today went something like this:

I am love. Today, I find the love within me and radiate it toward myself, those I love, and especially toward those I find difficult to love, because I know that they probably need it the most.

I am energy. Today, I make conscious decisions to avoid all activity and circumstances that rob me of my energy, and I seek out the activity and circumstances that allow me to expand my energy.

I am consciousness. Today, I practice mindfulness in all aspects of my life. In meditation, I work hard at developing and expanding my awareness, making conscious decisions on all aspects of my life.

I am courage. Today, I face my fears head-on, whatever form they may take. I overcome all fear through love and awareness.

I am gratitude. Today, I feel gratitude for all aspects of my being. I’m grateful for the people who love me, the roof over my head, my health, and the simple fact that I’m here at all. I’m equally grateful for the challenges that come my way, as these are the greatest lessons of life.

I say all of this slowly, out loud whenever possible, or in my head when there are people around. I use the same sense of feeling the meaning of each statement. And I also allow myself to improvise a bit in my intent every day, depending on that day’s particular challenges and the way I feel. As before, feel free to use mine, but I strongly suggest that you figure out your own priorities and develop your own intent. This is a very powerful way to develop and discover true self love.

I want to add that all of the thought-pattern work I do, is part of my daily meditation habit. The first ten minutes of the hour session is earmarked for affirmation, prayer and intent. If you haven’t already started meditating daily, I can’t recommend it enough. It will change your life, even your experience of reality, in ways you can’t imagine, in ways that cannot be explained. I wrote a short article on how to start, check it out here.

That’s the funny thing about awareness, you can’t be aware of what you’re not aware of already. The expansion of consciousness is infinite.

Until next time, much love.

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