“Words saturated with sincerity, conviction, faith, and intuition are like highly explosive vibration bombs, which, when set off, shatter the rocks of difficulties and create the change desired.”— Paramahansa Yogananda
The Power of Your Words
Understanding that we are all powerful creators is one of the fundamental principles of Yogananda’s teachings. The True Self is always creating. And one of the easiest and most effective ways of directing this energy is through the power of the words you use.
With a world population nearing 8 billion people, words are more copious today than they ever have been. Millions of conversations are happening right now, everywhere around the globe. There are more books, magazines, and movies being produced than ever before. And the internet? Well, there may well be an infinite number of words—good and bad—being used there that contribute exponentially to a never-ending cycle. And unfortunately, with all of this chatter that goes on minute by minute and day by day, it is impossible to comprehend all the words flying at us. It then devolves into a lot of noise and starts to feel like the blah blah blah sounds of listening to Charlie Brown’s teacher.
The phrase talk is cheap is one all of us have heard at one time or another. While it usually means, “I won’t believe what you’re saying until you give me proof,” it also suggests that words have lost their value in many ways. We speak idly, we fill empty spaces with words, we go off into unfocused conversations and just chat away without really thinking too much about what we are saying.
Yet words have awesome, creative power, especially when used consciously and directed toward a goal. “I love you,” “We will succeed,” “Never give up”: these words contain strength and beauty that inspire us and help us grow. And yet, like any creative power, words are a double-edged sword—they can build up or tear down. Most of us unknowingly take this for granted, otherwise why would we so casually declare, “I’m such a loser,” “I’m so gross and fat,” “There are no good men/women left for me,” or “This is all such a nightmare, and it’s never going to work out.” Words help to create your day-to-day reality. I’ve never met a successful person who repeatedly denigrates herself. In fact, when you use negative self-talk, you are sowing the seeds of turmoil and hardship. Bottom line: you speak into existence the words that you think and say.
The idea of affirmations has been floating around in self-help circles for over a hundred years. And unfortunately, they have gotten a bad rap because of the ineffectual way they are often used—casual and not fully directed. If you just sit around and say things like “I’m rich!” with no feeling or focused intention, then affirmations are a waste of time. In the end, you’re just lying to yourself. No one around you believes it, certainly not you, and most importantly, your lukewarm attempt at expanding your life fizzles and goes cold.
Most of us haven’t been taught how to really perform affirmations to their fullest, most powerful form. So, when they fail, we cast away affirmations like old socks that don’t really fit us, and in the process unknowingly cast away a potentially incredibly effective technique that you can use to manifest what you want.
The Power of Properly Practiced Affirmations
Yogananda had a lot to say about the power of doing affirmations properly. He teaches, “That is why all affirmations of the conscious mind should be impressive enough to permeate the subconsciousness, which in turn automatically influences the conscious mind. . . . Still stronger affirmations reach not only the subconscious but also the superconscious mind—the magic storehouse of miraculous powers.”
So properly doing affirmations doesn’t mean you just rattle off a bunch of phrases. Nor does it mean negating the power of your words by saying, “I am healthy and fit” while thinking, “Yeah, right. This doesn’t work. I’m actually the epitome of being out of shape.” When you combine words with a committed intention and powerful emotion, you unite that energy with each word you are saying.
The truth of this is wonderfully exemplified by my friend Dan Buettner, National Geographic Fellow and founder of the Blue Zones, which is an organization that teaches communities how to emulate the five regions in the world where people live much longer than usual. I asked him if he uses affirmations in his conquests, and he recounted:
In a moment of rapture, or perhaps too much tequila, I declared to a few friends that I was going to bike across Africa—an affirmation of sorts. I started researching the trip: crossing the Sahara, traveling parallel to the equator through the Congo, then to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti, and down to Cape Town. And I got very excited. I told more and more people about it and got them excited. Pretty soon, I got three team-mates excited—and 15 sponsors. Finally, we were dipping our rear wheels in the sea north of Tunisia to begin the trip.
But the story doesn’t end here. Two thousand one hundred miles into the Sahara, the road ended, and we faced raw, open desert. The easy thing would have been to retreat. Instead, we pushed on. In the Congo, we found almost no food. We contracted malaria, dysentery, intestinal worms, and giardiasis. We were emaciated, filthy, and defeated. What kept us going? That same declaration that got me started. But now, it had taken on a different type of power. I had made promises to sponsors who counted on us and friends who believed in us.
What had started as an affirmation had now transformed into a resolve not to let people down. And you know what? It pushed us through. On June 10, 1993, after 12,220 miles, we rolled into Cape Town, South Africa, and set the Guinness World Record for cycling Africa. The lesson: Beware of what you declare during a time of rapture.
Bottom line: affirmation plus willpower leads to transformation.
So don’t just recite your affirmations; really live them.
Yogananda was a pioneer in the science of affirmation and began teaching the technique long before it became a modern-day practice. Here is some guidance he gives: “Choose your affirmation and repeat all of it, first loudly, then softly and more slowly, until your voice becomes a whisper. Then gradually affirm it mentally only, without moving the tongue or the lips, until you feel that you have attained deep, unbroken concentration—not unconscious-ness, but a profound continuity of uninterrupted thought. If you continue with your mental affirmation, and go still deeper, you will feel a sense of increasing joy and peace. During the state of deep concentration, your affirmation will merge with the subconscious stream, to come back later reinforced with power to influence your conscious mind through the law of habit.”
This is what happened to my friend Dan. He had embedded his affirmation so deeply inside himself that it began to manifest and influence the decisions he made. Coupled with his will to not renege on his affirmation, he attained his dream. And you can do the same.
Here’s a simple way to get started:
1. First of all, create a clear affirmation.
It can be one or a few sentences, but you should be able to repeat it from memory. Align with your deepest desire that you find to be fully worthy and aligned with your time and attention. I recommend starting with “I am” to tie in the quality of beingness. Say it in the present tense, to enforce that it’s here now, or in the process of coming in. Here are some examples:
- I am passionate about my job, which is fulfilling and meaningful to me.
- I am love, and I find the matching love of my life.
- I am peaceful.
- I am the regional manager.
- I have a wonderful team to manage.
- I am the owner of my own fashion brand.
2. Second, repeat the affirmation out loud, then softer and softer, then to a whisper, and finally silently.
This means you are ideally going to be saying your affirmation 8–10 times in a session. Keep repeating it within yourself, until you feel that you have attained a deep state of concentration with the words you are saying. As Yogananda says, it should feel like a “profound continuity of uninterrupted thought.”
You need to keep merging with the words you are saying by accepting them as truth. It is important to turn off the tendency to rattle off the words mindlessly, or as Yogananda says, as “blind repetition of demands.” This technique requires intense concentration and focus, so it is important to keep your mind on your intention and not on something else, like what you are going to cook for dinner later or a deadline you have to meet.
3. Remember that this is a practice.
While seemingly simple, truly merging with your affirmation takes practice.
As I’ve already mentioned, it’s impossible to practice this technique properly if your mind is racing, if you are right in the middle of screaming toddlers, or if you’re answering a bunch of texts or playing the news in the background. Instead, it’s better to do your affirmations after you meditate, or at least after you put your phone in airplane mode. Once you do, take some deep breaths, and go into a quiet space. Otherwise, just wait for the right opportunity, because if you do it without the concentration required, you are just wasting your time.
4. Look for peace as a marker for effectiveness.
Yogananda teaches that if we find ourselves going into deeper and deeper states, we are indeed allowing the affirmation to go deeper and deeper into our “superconscious realm, to return later laden with unlimited power to influence your conscious mind and also to fulfill your desires.” Feelings of increasing peace are a definite marker that you are going deeper into the affirmation and uniting with it, so that it will manifest as your reality in your life. Feel that the affirmation is becoming part of you, actually merging into your heart and then through every cell and part of you.
5. Move on and believe.
Once you complete the practice, which can take anywhere from, say, three minutes or so to as much time as you want to stay in that state, be convinced that your affirmation has been heard and that what is Spirit’s is also yours. Then move on with your day with that confidence and knowing.
You can make affirmations part of your daily life and daily practice. Or you can weave them in and out as you feel connected to using them. There isn’t a “right” timing and frequency. If you are really focused on a goal, though, I suggest you practice them daily. Try them, wield your own power, and create away!
Note: if you are looking for affirmation inspiration, Paramahansa Yogananda offers hundreds of affirmations for healing, self-improvement, and deepening your unity with the True Self in the Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons and the books Scientific Healing Affirmations and Metaphysical Meditations.
You Are More Than You Think You Are
Reprinted with permission from You Are More Than You Think You Are: Practical Enlightenment for Everyday Life by Kimberly Snyder,
Kimberly Snyder is a multi-time New York Times bestselling author, spiritual and meditation teacher, nutritionist and holistic wellness expert. She has authored 6 books, including Radical Beauty, which she co-authored with Deepak Chopra. Her highly anticipated 6th book, You Are More Than You Think You Are: Practical Enlightenment for Everyday Life, (Hay House) published on January 25th, 2022.
She is also the founder of Solluna®, a holistic lifestyle brand, Practical Enlightenment Meditation,™ Solluna Circle and the host of her top-rated Feel Good Podcast. She has worked with dozens of top celebrities to feel their best, including Drew Barrymore, Reese Witherspoon and Channing Tatum, and has been featured by numerous national media outlets, including Good Morning America, The Today Show, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Kimberly resides in Los Angeles and Hawaii with her husband and her sons.
Kimberly Snyder Author Photo by Kevin Estrada