The Power of Affirmations - Dancing with the Shadow
A long time ago I trained in the 3-year Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy program. I don’t currently practice their techniques, per se, but I learned a lot.
As a part of the curriculum, I was required to practice affirmations every day for a month. The assignment was to wake up a few minutes early every morning and practice writing and/or speaking out loud some affirmations. For example, “I speak and act in line with my higher ideals.”
Right out of the gate, I felt a HUGE amount of resistance to this. It just seemed so Cheesy!
But I signed up for this training for a reason. So I decided “What the heck? Why not give it a go?”
This was so many years ago . . . I don’t remember what my actual affirmations were at the time . . . But I do remember this: they started to make me feel uplifted. Despite my resistance!
Then I got curious. Why do I have such resistance to this experiment? Why are affirmations “working” on me, despite that resistance?
I meditated on it --and my inner wisdom told me this: “You were brought up by your family to deny your feelings. That is how their families taught them. We are passing down ancestral trauma. Denying your feelings is a good coping mechanism during crises. This family has experienced Wars, the Great Depression, substance abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexism and other forms of abuse. We are all doing what we can to cope.
But if you deny your feelings forever, you never get to live your life fully. You never get to be your whole self. You never get to heal your deep wounds. Practicing affirmations is uncomfortable because affirmations point to your deepest sorrows –the things you don’t want to feel. And also point to your deepest treasures–of healing and transformation.”
Wow. When we craft an affirmation, we are also seeing our shadow, and our ancestral shadows. The shadow is the things we don't want to feel, or the things that are hard to hold. In the personal realm, If I craft an affirmation that says “I speak and act in line with my higher ideals,” That means that–somewhere inside –I feel like I haven’t been doing that to-date. I have not been living up to my expectations of myself. I have not been doing “enough.” I haven’t been living up to my soul's wish for existence. This is the Shadow
Let’s unpack that a bit further. “I have not been living up to my expectations of myself,” “I have not been doing enough”–those are ego concepts. Those are, perhaps, concepts imposed upon us by the outside world. The world is always keen to tell us how we “don’t cut the mustard” or “don’t quite measure up.”
Most of us are doing the best we can. With the utmost friendliness and compassion to the self, knowing that we are doing our best–let us cut to the heart of the matter: It isn’t about our perceived successes or failures. It is about our soul’s desire to live fully, consciously and unconditionally.
When we are more connected to our souls and our souls’ desire to live more fully in the world, it is easier to speak and act in line with our higher ideals. When we speak and act in line with our highest ideals, we are integrated with our souls.
Daily life troubles exist, and they take us away from our True Selves. Meditating and creating affirmations are two potent tools to bring us back to our homes within ourselves.
If this concept feels “cheesy’ or “corny”--I totally get that! The invitation here is to explore, experiment, play. If today is not the day that this resonates, let it go. And explore the yoga that resonates with you today.
Enjoy this moving affirmation, I am Enough, by A Beautiful Chorus
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