A friend asked me recently, "What are positive affirmations?" Many years ago, I read a book titled Write It Down, Make It Happen by Henriette Klauser. Though I was intrigued by the title, I felt that it was a little presumptuous to assume that we, being under the control of the Supreme Lord's energies, could have influence--what to speak of control--over the outcomes of our desires. Nevertheless, I decided to try following the exercises given in the book and see what would happen.
I learned that we often sabotage our dreams through unconscious negative talk inside our heads. I wanted to stop doing that. I was inspired by the many testimonials given in her book, and wanted to see if my own "success story" would unfold.
The author posited that the written word is very powerful. It influences events to happen that we may not even be aware of, on the subconscious level. She spoke of "Positive Affirmations." I had heard of this concept and even tried it before, but the way in which Miss Klauser presented positively affirming what we want to see happen was more compelling than anything I had read previously.
I read the book in 1992, and as recommended in the book, wrote down some of my dreams. "I want a house made of stone and wood, on the edge of a forest with a creek running through the property." Another wish I jotted down at that time was, "I want to be part of a traveling world sankirtana* party." Years later, I realized that both of those dreams had come true. We pulled up our California roots in 1997, moved all the way across the country to North Carolina on a wing and a prayer (with no job and no house to move into). We purchased a piece of land in Prabhupada Village, a Hare Krishna community near Sandy Ridge, North Carolina. Our friend Madhuha Prabhu had recommended the plot to us, and when we saw it, a double rainbow suddenly appeared overhead and Lord Indra sent down a soft shower of rain while Suryadeva's rays danced between the raindrops. Because such a phenomenon is called "deva-snana" and is considered an auspicious sign, we took it that we were supposed to purchase this particular property.
This is the home my multi talented husband built with his own hands, a beautiful farmhouse out of cedar and Carolina field stone. It was on the edge of a forest and Snow Creek ran along the edge of the property. We lived there for eighteen years.
For the last seven years, my husband and I have traveled almost constantly around India and Sri Lanka, chanting the holy names of the Lord in congregation with hundreds and thousands of other devotees of the Lord. This is slightly different from the big bus I had visualized back in 1992, but it is close enough. Both of those big dreams I had written about had eventually come true. Here is a photo:
What is this term "positive affirmations?" It means to conceptualize a vision of something you want to see happen or you want to achieve, putting that visualization into words on paper, and affirming it in the present tense with positive words followed by expressions of gratitude and descriptions of the positive outcomes of realizing your goal. For example, if you are scheduled to participate in a drama and you want to perform nicely on stage, you might follow this guide:
1. Relax. Breathe deeply.
2. With pen and paper, write down what you want to see happen. Be specific, e.g., "I want to perform well on stage. I want to do better than I have ever done before. I want to stay in character and make a deep impression on the audience."
3. Write your wish in the form of a prayer, e.g., "My Dear Lod Krishna, if You so desire, please allow me to perform well on stage."
4. Visualize Lord Krishna's positive answer to your prayer, e.g., "My Dear Lord Krishna, I see that You kindly empower me to perform well on stage."
5. Write a prayer of thanks, e.g., "My Dear Lord Krishna, thank You for empowering me to perform nicely on stage."
6. Visualize the positive outcomes of the realization of your goal, e.g., "The audience applauds enthusiastically. I receive many compliments after the drama for my excellent performance. I feel happy. I am very grateful to Krishna and satisfied that He empowered me to do well. I am thankful that I was able to please the audience with a good performance."
Expect Krishna's Mercy
Srila Prabhupada once told my Godbrother Makhanlal to expect Krishna's mercy. Krishna's mercy may mean to some the fulfillment of a material desire, but after all, Krishna is the Supreme Lord and everything comes from Him ultimately. Srila Prabhupada wrote, "If, however, anyone has any material desire to be fulfilled, he had better pray for it to the Supreme Lord (although that is not pure devotion), and he will thus achieve the desired result." (Bg 9.24 Ppt) By depending on Krishna to answer our prayers, we become more attached to Krishna and that, after all, is the goal of human life.
Some people feel that we're being too pushy when we write down positive affirmations. I don't see it that way. I see it in this way: instead of sabotaging our desires by negative thinking, when we write down what we want, we're making it clear to both ourselves and to Lord Paramatma in our heart what it is that we want to see happen. When we write it in the form of three prayers:
(1) A prayer of petition
(2) A positive visualization of our petition being granted
(3) A prayer of thanks
what we are doing is preparing ourselves to expect Krishna's mercy and receive His blessings, if He so chooses to bestow them upon us. When he was very sick, Srila Prabhupada himself taught us how to pray--"My Dear Lord Krishna, if You so desire, please cure Srila Prabhupada." So we can use that template for any prayer, as it makes a clear statement that we are totally dependent on the mercy of the Lord, realizing that He is svarat--fully independent--and can do whatever He likes. It also communicates our trust in Krishna that He has our best interest at heart and He will arrange whatever is truly best for us in our spiritual growth.
Create a Clear Vision
In her book, Ms Klauser gives many, many testimonials of people whose dreams, goals and aspirations were realized through this process of writing down what they wanted. By her practical advice, she gives concreteness to the concept of wishing. Her suggestion of creating a clear vision of what one wants through words invites the realization of that visualization to manifest, and as one sees results starting to happen, one's commitment to the realization of his goal becomes strengthened. As the famous mountain-climber William Hutchison Murray wrote: “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth ~ the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves, too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now. “ ~The Scottish Himalayan Expedition, William Hutchison Murray, 1951. (This quote is often attributed to Goethe, whom he quotes at the end.)
By creating a three-point prayer to guide myself through the process of positively affirming my aspirations, I have put my own personal effect on the process, as I have often throughout my life experienced the power of prayer. Praying helps me to remember that it's okay to ask for something from the Lord, that I am totally dependent on Krishna's mercy and that whatever He decides to arrange in my life is perfect, as He has my best interest at heart.