Affirmation Power - Consciousness in word and music
 

The Power of Affirmations
by Dr. Rick Herrick

I grew up in a Christian family. One aspect of the Christian tradition that has resonated with me for as long as I can remember is the Sermon on the Mount. I want to live that way.  It is not easy. Ironically the most helpful advice I have received for achieving this goal comes from Buddhism.

Separate Self

The Buddha taught that the sense of a separate self is the cause of all human suffering—anger, greed, fear, self-centered behavior, etc. It is also an illusion, the separate self does not exist. Cognitive psychology agrees. It posits that the human brain constructs models of reality that define perception and allow an individual to function. There is no biological “I” inside the head that directs and controls perception, only mental models constructed by the brain from sense experience and memory. These models organize and filter the reality we experience from among the infinite possibilities of perceptions “out there.”

The problem is that we are biological creatures with a will to survive. This survival instinct filters the messages that the brain receives, which leads to the creation of a mental model characterized by a sense of separate self. The problem with an egocentric model of the world is that we do not see things as they are, but rather as we are. It is difficult to move beyond this model of self, but not impossible.

The Power of Affirmations

The models of reality created by the brain are flexible rather than fixed.  They can be changed. Affirmations can be a powerful tool for achieving that change. A positive statement repeated again and again with conviction in a meditative setting can reprogram the mental model that defines a person’s reality.

Here’s how I use them in my life. First, I pay attention to my behavior and thoughts. Anger, resentment, and deep-seated grievances close the heart, and strengthen the control of the separate self model over consciousness. To understand ego, to watch it, reduces that control, and makes possible the introduction of new ideas to expand awareness.

There are several possible sources of affirmations. A favorite of mine is the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew (Chapters 5-7). Take a teaching of Jesus to meditation for the purpose of changing your internal model of reality. I can think of no better way of relating with him.

Soul Affirmation Music For Better Outcomes

Another good source is “Soul Affirmation,” a CD of spiritual music by Ken LaDeroute, www. LaDerouteMusic.com. The lyrics in these wonderful songs offer many possible affirmations to deal with a wide range of spiritual problems. Finally, you can write your own affirmation.

An affirmation is a simple statement of purpose and intent. To be effective, the affirmation you select should state positively, in the present tense, the change in outlook you want to accomplish, and it must be a believable change. It must be a change in outlook you can realistically progress toward.

Meditation

Once I have selected an appropriate affirmation, I take it to meditation. With a quiet mind, I repeat the affirmation over and over with feeling. I also reflect on it. I continue this process for as long as the problem persists, and I often go back to it from time to time. In this way, I hope to change the mental model that directs my perception and organizes my life.

Moral development is a process of expanding one’s model for perceiving reality. It is not about striving to do good to assuage guilt laden feelings. It is also not about destroying ego in an attempt to live a selfless existence. Rather, it is about understanding ego, and gently moving beyond an exclusive focus on it. If you desire to act differently, a disciplined practice with appropriate affirmations can make an important difference in accomplishing that goal.

Dr. Rick Herrick is the author of The Case Against Evangelical Christianity.

 

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