On this day, when so many people celebrate their faith in different ways, I feel compelled to draw together the threads of different conversations, lectures, and sermons that I have heard recently.Take it as a you might an attraction pointed out by a tour guide, for that is who I am.
In my particular spiritual journey, today is a day of celebrating rebirth, of delighting in new growth, of triumph over the darkness that casts shadows on the soul. Allow me to draw you gently towards my conclusions, if you will. Bring a snack– this piece of the journey may become steep and arduous in some places.
The first part of this attraction involves the process of affirmations. I hold The Pacific Institute and Lou Tice in great esteem for their continual guidance and teachings about the affirmation process and its place in everyday life. An affirmation is a simple statement of a fact in its simplest form, such as saying, “It is warm today.” An affirmation can also be a recognition of who you are: “I am a writer.” Used carefully and consistently, it can be a powerful tool in achieving goals and realizing dreams. The use of affirmations as a tool in growth has a hidden spiritual part. Hang tight– let me point out another piece of the attraction first.
Second, affirmations can be positive or negative, and it is very common to see the negative affirmations. How many times have you gotten an assignment back with all your mistakes highlighted or had a boss point out everything you have done wrong in a situation? That is a negative affirmation. My mom told me about her time in the convent (before I was born, of course!) wherein she had to spend time at the end of each day writing what she had done wrong. This focus on mistakes and missteps that was enforced by her religious order appalled me. Psychologically, having someone else tell you what you did incorrectly is one thing: you can choose to agree with it or embrace it, but the judgment is outside of yourself. To write each of your shortcomings in your own words and have it for review every day is like playing a continual movie of every mistake you have every made, which you have internalized because you wrote it down. To me, that in itself is the definition of hell. It is a constant reminder of your failings. More than that, it programs your mind to keep making the same mistakes.
Finally, one of my deepest beliefs is from the Gospel of Thomas: “The kingdom of Heaven is within you and all around you.” The Universe, whether you call it God, Goddess, Buddha, Bridget, or whatever (for it has many names), is closer to you than your own breath. It is in the person looking back at you in the mirror or through the eyes of the person you meet. Today’s message at my church was about the courage to open yourself to the will of the Universe in your life, an opening of your soul to its will through prayer. Prayer, in the less-common definition of the word, means spiritual communion. Therefore, to pray is to commune with the divine spirit that resides within you.
To briefly recap: affirmations can be positive, as in goal attainment, or negative, as in a reminder of failure. Prayer is a spiritual communion with the divine that resides within and all around you. Following me so far?
When an affirmation is used for growth and goal attainment, it is a most basic version of prayer. You articulate a dream or some sort of growth that you have been inspired to achieve. Who inspires you to set the goal or dream the dream? Could it be the Universe? Therefore, an affirmation is an articulation of the Universe’s will in your life. It is a recognition of your next steps on your journey– a piece of your personal roadmap. Affirmations are also a reminder that we are not alone: the Universe is with us, urging us forward toward love, life, and enlightenment.
Pretty cool, huh?