Monday, June 25, 2007

Affirm This

I was asked recently why at our church we do "affirmations." If it isn't part of one's spiritual practice, it may seem silly to say something is true when it doesn't seem yet to be true or when even the opposite appears to be true. So what is the purpose of saying, "I am healthy" when in fact, you feel like crap?! Why say, "I am abundantly prospered" when you're behind on all the bills? Why say, "There is lots of love in my life" when you feel betrayed or lonely? Is an affirmation just wishful thinking?

I can explain why I use affirmations. First, they immediately make me feel better. To say that something is good or valuable or hopeful immediately lifts my spirits, at least a little. That alone is worth the price of admission! A moment of relief is nothing to sneeze at (pardon the misplaced preposistion).

Secondly, some people have always believed that language has magical qualities. Say the right words in the right order with the right intention and right feeling, and presto chango, you get a desird result. But what if we don't buy that?

Then there is a third reason to give affirmations a try. The Word-Faith/Charismatic types tell us that faith is a force that is activated by "confessing" positive intentions. Faith pleases God, they maintain, and using words to activate faith then moves God to bless us. That's really not so different from point number two, so if we didn't sign off on #2, then #3 might not be that much more persuasive. But...

Possibility number 4: Our New Thought buddies believe we live in an intelligent, self-aware, responsive Universe. Our wishes, comments, intentions and desirs are seen by the Universe as requests, and so the Universe then uses Its vast resources to meet the request. Affirming our Good is a way of letting the Universe know that we have a desire that we would like to be fulfilled. We could say, "Please Mr. or Ms. Universe, grant me my petition," but that might sound as if we didn't really expect the blessing to occur, and if we expect it not to occur, then that is actually the request to which the Universe responds! So, we claim our Good in the affirmative, and the Universe days, "OK," and the blessings flow.

Of course, #4 is also not terribly unlike two and three! Each of these positions understand the divine nature a bit differently, but each agrees that how we think makes a difference in the quality of our lives, and changing our speech changes our thinking and the Divine responds to the sustained, positive thought in some way. If the magical thinking folks and the Word-Faith folks and the New Thought folks all agree to some degree on this point, then maybe there is something to it! Maybe they ahve each in their context discovered that such practices work, at least often enough to make it worth the effort.

Finally, my fifth reason for believing in affirmations is because I believe in the power of mind. If consciousness is non-local (as the quantum theorists tell us), then affirming good for someone else may just plant a great idea in that person's consciousness or in the consciousness of someone who can help that person. More personally, stating something as if it were already true plants the seed of that truth in our own subconscious minds. So, If I affirm abundance (even if it isn't being demontrated yet), my subconscious mind will eventually think that abundance is the natural state of things and will start to work to bring me into harmony with what it perceives as natural. So, after affiming abundance for a while, perhaps I get a raise or a bonus or a nice gift or a roommate or some other blessing that makes my financial situation better. It not only makes sense to me that this is possible, but experience tells me that it works.

So, why do affirmations? Because at very least they can make us feel better for a while. They also may help change our thoughts and attitudes enough that our experiences improve. And just maybe, they move divine energies to assist us as well. They're free, so why not give them a try. At least sometimes, they're bound to work.


Pastor Peters said...

I love you.

And you have officially been tagged for the Five Things I Dig About Jesus meme. See more here. (I didn't make up the name).

Pastor Peters said...

Um, I mistyped my own address.

I mean, here.