Affirmations

Affirmations

Affirmations as a Tool for Success

Affirmations are powerful, but they are not magic. The Fairy Godmother doesn’t appear to transform our lives with a sparkly wand whenever things are tough, as most of us know. When we want to achieve something significant, for ourselves or for others, it’s pretty certain that we will have to work hard for it — and the effort required usually turns out to be far beyond what we anticipated. Affirmations keep us focused on the outcomes we want, even when we feel exhaustion, have doubts and fears from within, or experience discouragement or resistance from others.

How do you want to go forward on your yoga path? Do you want to deepen your studies and expand your practice? Do you feel drawn toward working with specialized groups or in non-studio class formats? Once you articulate what you aspire toward, ask yourself, “What do I want to affirm?” Answer the question with a positive, time-specific statement. For example, several years ago I wanted earn RYT 500 status. My affirmations was:

“I earn 500-hour yoga teacher certification in 2014.”

(A caution: be concrete, but realistic when you set timeframes, and be prepared to adjust if needed. Things don’t always go as expected.)

Maybe you want to have a stronger relationship with a family member. An affirmation could be something like: “I establish a schedule that includes regular visits with Grandma.”

There is nothing tricky about writing such affirmations for yourself. Take a few days to jot some priorities down, then spend dedicated time to form a few simple, positive statements. Write, paint, or print them out and put them somewhere you can see them often. Look at them and read them regularly. Don’t forget this important step — affirmations only work when you are involved with them. You can always tweak when it makes sense.

Another type of affirmation is not strictly goal-related, but can be instrumental in making positive internal shifts. You may try affirming something general, such as, “I trust my intuition,” or “My work is important.” Or you may want to change an attitude such as self-righteousness or judgemental feelings toward yourself or others. An affirmation that I have said almost daily for the last three years goes like this:

“I recognize that others meet me from where they are, and that I meet others from where I am. I have compassion for both.”

Repeating this changes how I respond to snarly traffic, a slow cashier, or a cranky friend. We can teach ourselves to consciously recognize and soften our responses to things that we see as problems others bring into our lives by considering the opposing backgrounds and desires of both parties simultaneously.

Getting back to the Fairy Godmother — wishing for a magical resolution or praying for personal rescue is not the same as creating and working with an affirmation. Such half-hearted attempts absolve us of self-responsibility by side-stepping the tapas and swadyaya needed to move forward. But more than that, Isvara Pranidhana, personal devotion to the divine – however that presents itself to you – is left out of the equation. Instead, the desired outcome is swept into the nebulous “universe” with no effort, self-reflection, or follow through. (Niyamas, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, 2.1.)

Use affirmations to create structure and support, then through daily reference and repetition, you will start crossing your goals off your list – maybe because you have achieved what you wanted to, or maybe because they didn’t belong on your list after all. Affirmations have a way of clarifying and resolving what is really important in the end.

Paramhansa Yogananda’s method of using an affirmation is to first say it out loud, then whisper it, then say it internally. This sequentially brings it deeper within, turning it into a kind of focus meditation, and really sets the affirmation squarely into your awareness. (Scientific Healing Affirmations, Self-Realization Fellowship, 1958.)

Affirmations come directly from you, and their realization is created, step-by-step, from within an increasingly awake you.

No wonder they are powerful.

by Jools Andrés, BA, ERYT 500.

AffirmationsJools is a Lead trainer for SOYA Vancouver at the 200-hour and 300-hour teacher trainings. Jools has studied extensively in Yoga Therapy and travelled to India to learn directly from the sources. To learn more about Jools, or to study with her at her Restorative Yoga Teacher Training or the SOYA Teacher Trainings, go to https://joolsandres.com/about-us.php.

 

Spiritual Liberation

Spiritual Liberation

Liberation: Spiritual Freedom Now or Later

Spiritual liberation is realization of our innermost essence, the Self. This can occur after death or even before the body and mind have disintegrated. The latter form of freedom is known as “living liberation.” If it qualitatively the same as the former and is often known as enlightenment.

In both cases, the mind must be fully transcended. That is to say, there must be nothing in the way of pure awareness. While we are alive, Self-realization is a paradoxical state. On one hand, there is the disembodied, eternal Self, and on the other hand, there is the infinite body and an equally finite mind. This is a mind boggling combination!

The Self-realized adept who is alive has pushed the mind to its limits, such that it barely exists at all. Certainly, the adept’s mind includes no tendency to ward self-centeredness. In some cases, the master may spend more time being present as the Self. In (most) other cases, he or she dips into actual Self-realization periodically, which then has a profoundly transformative effect on the mind. Put differently, in the Self-realized adept, the Self – or God – is more present than the mind.

The process of Yoga is an unveiling of the ever-present Self. We are always free, or liberated. But the blocks in our mind prevent us from recognizing our innate freedom. This is comparable to a tree branch standing in the way of the Sun. When we bend the branch a little, the sunlight strikes our eyes. When we remove the obstructions in the mind – all the negative emotions like anger, lust, greed, and so on – we can welcome the light of the Self in our heart. Even a little bit of the yogic work can give us a glimpse of the Self. In a way, every step toward the Self is liberating.

Yoga is thus excavation work, which gets rid of the dross in the psyche. At first, this requires a very muscular effort. We have to apply ourselves systematically using willpower and self-discipline. Imagine spade and pickaxe. Later on, the yogic work becomes more subtle but also more challenging, because the impediments are not always easy to see. When you are still in the process of dismantling gross self-centeredness, you will in general know what to do. More subtle forms of self-centeredness involve mental obstacles that call for great discernment. It may not always be obvious to a disciple even which functions of the mind are self-centered. This is where a guru can be supremely helpful. He or she has struggled with the same or a similar problem.

Being more skilful on the ecstatic circuit of the spiritual path, the guru can point out where we are getting sidetracked. The experience of ecstasy – either in its lower forms or by dint of artificial means (such as drugs or mantras) – can itself be full of traps. Not every ecstasy reveals the Self. The ecstatic state can, however, look like the real thing. Only superior discernment – like a teacher is apt to have – will settle the matter.

Whenever we are close to Self-realization, our conduct is likely to become simple and inspiring to others. The nondual Self, after all, is simple. As long as our life is overly convoluted, or complicated, we are still closer to the mind than to the Self. On the spiritual path, the mind is progressively stripped of the need for complication and extraordinariness. In fact, disciples are to all appearances ordinary people. They don’t wear a special sign that proclaims: “I am a disciple.” Nor do disciples engage in extraordinary feats. If they do, then we ought to question their spiritual status. To behave in an ordinary manner while being extraordinary on the inside is a sign of freedom.

The freer we are, the less likely do we feel the urge to assert ourselves or display our specific neuroses. The liberated being is non-neurotic. He or she has overcome the wiles and compulsions of the mind.

By Brenda and Georg Feuerstein   (An excerpt from “The Matrix of Yoga: Teachings, Principles, and Questions” by Georg and Brenda Feuerstein. Used with permission from Brenda Feuerstein)

Spiritual LiberationBrenda Feuerstein will be leading our SOYA Annual Yoga Retreat at Sorrento Centre this May 31-June 2nd! An event not to be missed! Register Here! She is an author and yoga scholar. Her books include The Yoga-Sutra from a Woman’s Perspective, Yoga-Nidra/Yoga Sleep (audio recording) as well as co-authored works with her late husband and spiritual partner Dr. Georg Feuerstein include, The Matrix of Yoga, Green Yoga, Green Dharma, and The Bhagavad-Gita: A New Translation. She lives in the quaint village of Eastend, Saskatchewan.  Photo credit: Free download from Pixabay at https://www.pexels.com/photo/abstract-art-awareness-branches-268283/