What Is an Affirmation?

According to the English American Dictionary, the definition of  “to affirm” is to state that something is true. When applied to the spiritual life, an affirmation is a statement of truth which one aspires to absorb into his life. (1)

Affirmations are dynamic and practical — not wishful thinking. One reason they work is because they are based on higher truths, which, perhaps, we have yet to realize on a conscious level. (2) “The greatest mistake people make,” Swami Kriyananda wrote, “is to belittle their own power to change themselves.” (3) According to Remez Sasson, a self-improvement writer, the repetition and corresponding mental images formed when saying affirmations help them to change the subconscious mind. (4)

Ideally, affirmations should be repeated in a quiet space with concentration. This repetition allows one to change habit patterns and attitudes over which one normally has little control. (1) When one realizes that a recurring tendency has been negatively impacting their life, this is an especially good time to use affirmations. (5)

Instructions for Practice

As taught by Paramhansa Yogananda, an affirmation should be repeated with ever-deeper attention: first loudly, then in a normal speaking voice, then in a whisper, and then silently, carrying its meaning down into the subconscious.

Finally, it should be said in such a way as to draw one into the superconscious. This can be done by repeating it while concentrating at the point between the eyebrows, the seat of divine consciousness in the body. (1)

Examples of Affirmations from Affirmations for Self-Healing by Swami Kriyananda

Affirmation for Success: “I leave behind me both my failures and accomplishments. What I do today will create a new and better future, filled with inner joy.”

Affirmation for love: “I will love others as extensions of my own Self, and of the love I feel from God.” (6)

How to Repeat an Affirmation for Greatest Effect

Jesus Christ said “Pray believing,” and the same is true of doing an affirmation. Negative thoughts, disbelief, and doubt all cripple the ability of an affirmation to bring about a desired change. In How to Be a Success, Yogananda wrote,

In practicing affirmations, the spiritual aspirant must be unfailingly patient. Believe you are inherently healthy when you want good health; believe you are inherently prosperous when you want prosperity; believe you are inherently wise when you want wisdom—then health, prosperity, and wisdom will manifest themselves in you.” (7)

The best times to repeat an affirmation is when the subconscious mind is most receptive: after waking, immediately before going to sleep, and at the beginning and end of meditation. Another good time is in the face of a difficulty: (2) as Paramhansa Yogananda said, “The season of failure is the best time for sowing the seeds of success!” (8)

However, one need not wait for an ideal time before practicing an affirmation: the best time is often the present. (2)

How to Create One’s Own Affirmations

Good affirmations are positive. (3) If one makes the statement, “I am not angry,” the word angry will still register an impact in the subconscious mind, and will tend to increase rather than lessen tension. It is better to affirm a positive quality which is the opposite of anger, for example peace.

Another tip is to word one’s affirmations in the present tense.

To understand what it takes to create a powerful affirmation, it may help to either ask for help from someone with experience, (2) or to first practice affirmations written by those who have a high level of spiritual realization.

Sources for Affirmations

  • Scientific Healing Affirmations, by Paramhansa Yogananda
  • Whispers from Eternity, by Paramhansa Yogananda
  • Affirmations for Self-Healing, by Swami Kriyananda
  • The Secrets series of books by Swami Kriyananda, especially Secrets for Self-Acceptance
  • Ananda Yoga for Higher Awareness, by Swami Kriyananda
  1. a b c Affirmations for Self-Healing, by Swami Kriyananda. “Introduction.”
  2. a b c d “Working with Affirmations,” by Nayaswami Savitri.
  3. a b The Art and Science of Raja Yoga, by Swami Kriyananda. Chapter 8, “Affirmations – Part 2.”
  4. The Power of Affirmations,” by Remez Sasson.
  5. Divine Will Healing, by Mary Kretzmann. p. 125
  6. Affirmations for Self-Healing, by Swami Kriyananda. “Success.”
  7. How to Be a Success, by Paramhansa Yogananda. Chapter 4, “Developing Habits of Success.”
  8. The Attributes of Success, by Paramhansa Yogananda. Chapter 4, “Failure aA a Stimulant.”