J.K. Rowling penned many memorable lines throughout her Harry Potter series. One of the most profound was offered by Hogwarts’ headmaster Albus Dumbledore.
In the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Dumbledore tells the boy wizard that, “words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic — capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”
How true that is (even for us muggles).
Words are indeed powerful, and when one needs to find the strength to carry on or create change, turning to inspirational phrases can lay the foundation. Affirmations have long been used as tools within the mindfulness community.
As an author who holds Enneagram and prayer workshops at Christ Church Frederica, Randy Siegel has incorporated affirmations into his programs. He feels these are simple ways to connect participants to their higher selves.
“While there’s little in life that we can actually control, we can control where we place our attention. Affirmations are a means for focusing our attention on that we wish to manifest in our lives, whether it be peace, self-love, abundance, a relationship, or communion with the divine,” he says.
“A form of neuro-linguistic programming, affirmations can change the way we think and help forge new habits that create positive change in our lives.”
In various traditions, phrases, prayers, or mantras are repeated to help facilitate a meditative state. Siegel says that the repetition can prove grounding, serving as a base as one moves through the day.
“I am most attracted to a way of using affirmations that mirrors centering prayer, a contemplative practice. I select one word — today it’s “grace” — that I repeat throughout the day whenever I want to return to feeling the presence of the divine,” Siegel says.
“For example, I might be standing in line at the grocery store and realize that I am focused on all I have to do that day. I silently say to myself, ‘grace,’ and I become present. And, as a wise teacher once told me, ‘When you are present, just whose presence do you think you’re in?’”
Siegel also uses affirmations as a way to reorient himself during stressful periods throughout the day.
“Another way that I use affirmations is when I find myself getting impatient, which is often. I might be stuck in traffic and feel myself getting upset and angry. I take a deep breath and say to myself, ‘patience, trust, surrender,’ and I begin to relax,” he says.
There are dozens of ways to incorporate affirmations into one’s life. Some like to jot down positive phrases or single words on paper, drop them in a jar, and then select one each day. Others prefer to situate decorative cards throughout one’s home or office to keep an affirmation in the forefront of one’s mind.
Of course, they can also serve as a basis for a full mindfulness practice. John Hartland, founder of Hartland Yoga, says that creating a simple daily ceremony can set the tone for the day or prove a settling way to end an evening.
“Affirmations are a reminder of the power of the mind. When we repeat a word or phrase, we explore the power of the mantra. We create a mental imprint in the brain,” Hartland says.
“They are an excellent way to train the brain, center yourself, and set the tone for the day. Combined with breath and repetition, you can take an affirmation and make it into a powerful meditation tool by creating a mantra.”
Hartland says that can be an easy process. A few simple steps can be used to create one’s own affirmation practice.
“Start small — your mantra should be affirming, uplifting, easy to remember, and a reflection of you,” he says.
“Mantras or repetitive affirmations are one of the most powerful ways to engage the mind and explore the power of meditation. Five minutes a day is all it requires.”
Finding Your Power Word
An exercise provided by Randy Siegel
Our inner dialogue determines in large part how effectively we operate in the world. Words lead to thoughts, thoughts to emotions, and emotions to energy. One way to raise your vibration and operate on a higher level is to focus on one power word that has a particular charge for you. Let’s see if you can determine yours.
Step One: Circle one of the three following scenarios that holds the most energy for you right now.
One: Imagine you are living your ideal life. You are happy, fulfilled, and at peace.
Two: Picture yourself on your death bed, congratulating yourself on a life well-lived.
Three: Identify one area of your life or work that is not working, in which you feel stuck.
Step Two: Take a minute and step into that scenario. Daydream. What is happening? How do you feel?
For example, if you chose scenario three, how would it feel to be unstuck, to have your career or life working perfectly?
I choose scenario two. I see myself at home, in bed, and surrounded by those who love me. I know death is imminent, but I am not afraid. I am slightly smiling. I am at peace.
Step Three: Write down seven words that describe your ideal life, life well-lived, or unstuck life.
Step Four: Say each word out loud. Does one word have more charge than the others?
None stands out for me. But as I review my list, another word emerges: “transcendence.” Chills run up my spine. When I think about the word “transcendence,” I think about transcending ego and tapping into my authentic self and higher power. I have found my power word.
Your Power Word: ______________________________
Step Five: Think about your word, and write down seven words or phrases that describe your life when you are living your word. What are you doing? How are you being? What does this bring you?
3. Love/Open Heart
Step Six: Convert these words into complete sentences using first person and present tense.
I am filled with joy and gratitude.
I am purposeful (and passionate about my purpose).
I am loving; my heart is open.
I am accomplished.
I am wise.
I am gentle.
I am grounded.
Say each sentence out loud. As you do, check in with your feelings. Do you feel powerful, peaceful, and inspired? If not, try rewriting the sentence and repeating it out loud. Change the wording until each sentence feels right.
I say each of my sentences out loud. I feel great.
Step Seven: Post your power word and seven supporting sentences where you can see them.
Repeat your power word often, but especially when you are feeling low. Notice how it changes your thinking. By remembering and repeating your power word throughout the day, you will raise your vibration and operate on a higher level.