I was having a conversation with a colleague the other day about affirmations. She works with them a lot, and I use them to a lesser degree. At first it seemed like we had divergent opinions on the topic, but as we continued to explain our processes to each other it seemed that for the most part our understanding and application of the principles were very similar. The thing that we both agreed was paramount with affirmations was that they transfer from the conscious mind to the unconscious mind—that we believe them, as she said.
For her, to transfer the affirmation, she used a series of techniques including repetition, stating that she liked to repeat the affirmation at least thirty times throughout her process. For me, my approach to communicating with the unconscious has always been through symbolism and ritual, and I generally translate an affirmation that I use into a symbol and then work with that symbol in ceremony. My primary method for doing this is the Empyrean Key process, which is an ever-deepening series of techniques that can be used for profound personal transformation.
But sometimes we just need something short and sweet that can be done quickly. When that’s what I need, I often use simple visualizations or, one of my favorites, tarot cards.
Like my friend, I also like working with repetition—I do a lot of repetitive prayers, mantras, and affirmations using malas or prayer beads (and even knitting—you can say a short mantra or affirmation with each stitch you take). Using a string of prayer beads makes counting the mantras easy. But if you don’t have a mala, you can gather together a pile of beads, seeds, stones, crystals, shells, pebbles or whatever you’ve got lying around and simply move your counters one by one from one pile (the to-do pile) into a second pile (the done pile) as you say each affirmation. And of course, you can always count on your fingers! I use this technique when I’m driving and move or tap my fingers on the steering wheel to count off my mantras or prayers.
A week or so later, I had an opportunity to do some affirmation work. I decided to combine my friend’s process with mine in a very simple technique. I had an affirmation I had been working with for the past few months and had been getting good results. I had been working with it in some simple rituals, but I wanted to try something new, and apply my friend’s idea of saying it thirty times. So I selected a tarot card that best captured my intention—the Star from the Infinite Visions Tarot by Gloria Jean—and proceeded to simply gaze gently at the image while repeating my affirmation. I would do the affirmations in sets of five and then take a break of 20-30 seconds in between each group to look quietly at the card. After I had done my 30 repetitions, I continued my silent contemplation for a few more minutes. I was at my office at the time, and I used my business card holder to position the card upright where I could see it easily, but you can also hold it or lay it on the table in front of you.
After that, whenever in the course of my day my thoughts arose around the topic of my affirmation, I brought the image of the card to mind and released the thoughts. It didn’t matter if the thoughts had a slant toward what I perceive as negative—worry, doubt, or fear—or if the thoughts were of what I might perceive as having a positive nature—manifesting, planning or making it happen—I wanted to completely release this to the Divine. My goal was to get my ego-centered self—whether the “doing” self or the “doubting” self—out of the way. This doesn’t mean not to take actions that need to be taken, but simply to be in the moment with the evolution of the goal.
You can do this simple and effective technique for any goal that you have.
Time: Set aside from 10-30 minutes for this.
- I knew from the start what my affirmation was, and then the card I wanted to use popped into mind immediately, so I think I spent about 5-10 minutes total doing my manifestation. If you need to take time to develop your affirmation and look carefully through your deck, you might prefer to set aside half an hour for this process.
1. Gather together a pile of 30 beads or gemstones or other counters, your tarot deck, paper and pen to write your affirmation, and anything else you think you’ll need.
- Of course, you can always gussy this little ritual up with some candles, incense, a pretty and/or symbolically colored cloth on your table, altar, or workspace, and maybe some appropriate music in the background. I like using all these things, and they can make it easier to get into a light trance state (where the unconscious is more open), but this process works equally well without the ritual tools, especially if you’re already familiar with entering a meditative state. If you’re not familiar with this, the repetition and gazing are what helps you enter that state—other ritual tools, like the candle and things mentioned above can assist if you’re comfortable using them. If you want to be really fancy and cast a circle first, go for it. This can be as simple or elaborate as you like and as you feel is necessary to align yourself with your intention.
2. Choose an affirmation for your intended objective—affirmations are always stated in the first person, positive (“I am” instead of “I am not”), stated as if already accomplished (“I have” or “I am” instead of “I will have” or “I will be”), and completely believable to you. It’s easiest if you make it short so you can memorize it.
- I go one step further and work only with affirmations that are already true in my life, rather than things that I want to change. This completely eliminates the brain’s ability to bypass the affirmation as unbelievable. For instance, I used to have a hard time remembering the due dates of bills and to pay them on time. I had gotten to the point where I was feeling really bad about it and would say to myself, always a day late and a dollar short. Entirely the wrong thing to say! It was negative and only reinforced the failure of the situation. And it wasn’t even true—I wasn’t always late in my payments, there were some each month that I remembered without a problem. I finally realized I needed to change this negative self-talk, and every time I remembered to pay a bill, I would say, “I pay my bills on time and in full.” Slowly I started remembering to make the payment the day it was due instead of the day after, then eventually I would remember it the day before, and then I created a spreadsheet that I consulted frequently, and now I have most of my bills on auto-pay, and those that I don’t, I pay either on the first of the month for those due before the 15th and on the 15th for those due after that date. No longer any forgotten bills!
3. Look through your tarot deck and select a card that most clearly represents your goal.
- Do what feels right to you—find a card with an image that looks like the kind of success you want to achieve, or a card that displays the emotional quality that you want to feel, or a card that literally or symbolically displays your goal—like using the Chariot as a symbol for a new car.
4. Place the card where you can see it clearly. Look at it with a soft, non-judgmental gaze, simply appreciating its beauty and the qualities that drew you to it.
5. Begin repeating your affirmation. Each time you say it, move one counter from the to-do pile to the done pile. Continue to gaze at the card while you say and count your affirmations. It can be nice to take a 20-30 second break from the affirmation every few repetitions so that you can simply appreciate the card.
6. After you’ve moved all the counters to the done pile, spend another minute or two gazing at the card.
7. When you’re finished, shuffle the card back into your deck, or put it on your altar or in a special place if you like. Open your circle if you cast one. Put your counters away. Continue on with your daily life. This ritual can be repeated if you like, or if it feels like it “didn’t take.” But chances are you won’t need to repeat it.
8. During the course of the day, the week, the month, whenever your mind wanders onto the topic of your affirmation, release all thoughts—including the affirmation itself—and just hold the image of the tarot card in your mind. Your conscious intention has been transferred to your unconscious, so your unconscious will now understand what this image means. If you find that you can picture the card clearly but can’t remember what the affirmation was—perfect. The ritual has done its work and your conscious mind has released this intention so your objective is now free to germinate in your unconscious and grow into manifestation.
If you try this, please leave me a comment letting me know how it works for you!
The website for the beautiful Infinite Visions Tarot has lots of card images to peruse as well as some fascinating articles on creator Gloria Jean’s artistic process.
Joy Vernon has been studying and teaching energetic and esoteric modalities for more than twenty years. She is the organizer of the Denver Tarot Geeks, Denver Tarot Meetup and Fort Collins Tarot Meetup, and she served on the faculty of Avalon Center for Druidic Studies. She is one of the Psychics of Isis and has been featured at SpiritWays, the Mercury Café and psychic fairs throughout the Denver Metro and Northern Colorado. She is a Certified Professional Tarot Reader and a member of the American Tarot Association. Joy also teaches Traditional Japanese Reiki and is the organizer of the Denver Traditional Reiki Meetup. For information on upcoming classes or to schedule an appointment, please visit JoyVernon.com.
© 2014 by Joy Vernon. All rights reserved.