Friday, 12 September 2014

Mindfulness & Positive Affirmations

The two main practices I engage in daily life are mindfulness meditation and positive affirmation. If the Buddha and Louise Hay had a baby it would look like my daily practice.

I spent many years healing on intensive silent meditation retreat, coming back into balance and releasing the damage that occurred in a very violent childhood.

At some point along the way I realised that my self-esteem was still so low that it could do with some other medicine. I had been in therapy for many years and it had really helped me trust again. When that came to an end I was blessed to find Louise Hay and her wonderful work in the world of positive thought.

From a meditative perspective thought falls into two categories. 
The Unhelpful: old judgements, identifications and evaluations, thoughts that come from and keep us stuck in the past.
The Helpful: fresh inspiration, 'eureka' moments, thoughts that come from a present, ever-flowing spring of inspiration.

My experience of both of these thought types is that The Unhelpful seem like concrete, they come with unpleasant or numb body sensations and emotions. The Helpful ones are more akin to gut-feeling and intuition, they come with sensations of ease and well-being.

From a positive affirmation perspective we are consciously choosing to put the energy of our awareness into specific thought to create good feeling. We are contemplating the positive, letting it lead us into the well-spring of health within, and then letting it go. 

When I first came across this practice it brought up immense resistance. I had the sense that I would be hitting bad thoughts over the head with good ones. I realised, though, that the bullying energy I was afraid of was something pre-existing inside me. It was the old judgemental thoughts doing the only thing they knew how - fighting - and I knew from my meditation practice that with mindfulness these thoughts can fall away as easily as they arise. And so they did.

So I started my positive thought practice by consciously thinking the exact opposite of the low self-esteem thoughts that came along.  

Examples: I am ugly, I am fat, Nobody loves me, I am stupid, I am useless transform into: I am beautiful, I love my body, I am loved, I am smart and creative, I am a valuable being in the world. 

The joy and exhilaration in this practice were immense. It felt like I was sticking two fingers up to my abusive father's put downs and years of programming to be a victim. It also opened up compassion for the hurt within me and a father who had no access to his own innocence and goodness.

It is good to remember that there are unskilful ways to use both mindfulness and positive affirmations. We can hide in mindfulness and detach ourselves from our own humanness and we can use positive thoughts to fight with unpleasant thoughts and feelings. The measure of whether or not your practices are skilful in helping you heal are both the level of compassion you feel for yourself and the wider world and the good feeling they bring you to.

Try some now... get clear on a horrible thought you're thinking.
Allow yourself to fully feel it in your body.
What would be the complete opposite of that thought? Think that.
Hold that thought no matter what resistance comes along. Be determined and gentle.
See how all emotions, body sensations, feelings come and go.
When you start to feel the new thought you will see that beyond all struggle is infinite peace and love.
You can now enjoy your birthright - to experience belonging exactly where you stand.

2 comments:

  1. What a beautifully well-written, informative, interesting and inspiring blog Aoife; is very good to know other people who are moving through the dark and negative thought fields and out into the sunlight. May peace and harmony fill and emanate from you always :-)

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    1. Thanks so much Dana. What a lovely blessing :) May peace and harmony fill and emanate from you always too xx

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