We live in a world surrounded by objects grown of visions realized. As human beings we are gifted the wonderful ability to create, to envision something that does not yet exist then work toward manifesting it. Setting a goal helps to align our visions with the results we desire. To be a co-creator in our lives we must begin with forming a clear view of what we would like to grow for ourselves, otherwise we are swept along without an oar to help us to our destination, the manifestation of our dreams or the fulfillment of our purpose.
As a therapist, the goals that clients present are often in support of creating new thought patterns, such as an impulse to change a limiting belief about oneself, a belief that may stand in the way of accomplishing other more tangible goals and dreams. While changing deep-rooted believes can be a complex process, there is a powerful tool I will share below that can help to establish new beliefs in support of your vision.
In The Book of Awakening; Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have, author Mark Nepo recounts a found memory from childhood of his grandmother encouraging him to not only envision, but to also embody his dreams. Nepo recalls her saying "See it here," as she pointed to his forehead, then she would take both of his little hands and say, "Now see it here." Finally, laughing as she looked around the room she would conclude, "And soon, it will be here." What a wise woman his grandmother was, for she knew one of the keys to realizing a dream; feeling into what we want to create for ourselves intensifies our ability to manifest our goals. In fact, the clearer you can get with your imagination, engaging as many senses as possible, the better.
An affirmation will help make firm what you wish to be true or to experience. Affirming brings focus to your internal dialogue, directing it to what you envision and away from worries and fears. Yet, as Nepo's grandmother taught, affirmations alone are not enough. The brain is part of a larger system, which includes the nervous system; to integrate a new belief we must feel and embody what we are trying to grow for ourselves.
Creating change happens best from a place of relaxation, and mindful awareness (being accepting, open, and fully present for an inner or outer moment of experience), can enhance neuroplasticity (the way the brain changes in response to experience). A mindfulness practice strengthens our ability to focus attention, a process that Daniel Siegel, MD, explains, "streams energy and information flow" in the direction of what your intention is now, and creates a "more integrated brain". Mindful awareness benefits "the health of the mind in terms of balanced emotional regulation, flexibility, and approaching rather than withdrawing from challenging events", as well as having a positive impact on "relationships and our embodied lives."
So we want to begin the practice in a comfortable, relaxed mindful state with as few distractions as possible.
Affirming, Visualizing, and Embodying
Coming into the present moment let go of any worries or judgments as you focus on the sensations of your breath, the cool air flowing in through your nostrils and the warm air flowing out, the rhythm of your diaphragm moving up and down, the movement of the muscles of your rib cage and your belly gently expanding and contracting. Stay with these sensations for a few minutes until you feel present and relaxed.
Now think of something you would like to manifest. If there are several things choose one to work with at this time. Once you have discovered what that is ask yourself, are there any limiting thoughts standing in the way of your desire? If so, what is the negative belief? Take that belief and turn it around to an affirmation in support of what you are working toward. Find a positive phrase that has meaning and power for you.
For example, if you struggle with feeling shy and holding back, you might envision yourself being comfortable enough to speak up in groups. The limiting thought might be one of low self esteem, such as "I have nothing of value to say", or "I'm not intelligent, interesting, or entertaining enough", which might lead to the phrase, "my voice is of value, I am free to express myself."
Repeat your affirmation a few times, tweaking it if necessary until it resonates for you.
These next steps will help you connect more fully with the feelings and sensations that accompany your affirmation. Begin by creating a visual representation of the phrase you chose.
Going back to the example "my voice is of value, I am free to express myself," the image might be one of standing outside on a sunny day surrounded by a circle of friends who are attentively and enthusiastically listening to you tell a story.
To connect to a visual representation close your eyes and imagine that the phrase you came up with is part of your beliefs and experiences now, what would that look like? It may help to repeat it out loud several times. Does an image spontaneously arrive? If not, envision what you would like to see when you say the phrase, an internal representation of what is most important to you in relation to your affirmation.
Next notice, as your image takes form, is it accompanied with positive emotions or sensations? Stand and see if you can feel the phrase and the image you've envisioned move into your body. Where do you feel most alive and in sync with the image?
Go to this place of aliveness and find a movement to accompany your affirmation and image. This could be a gesture with your hands and arms, or a bigger movement with your legs or whole body engaged.
In the example the movement might be one of standing firmly on the ground, legs aligned with your hips, hands over your sternum and heart, "my voice is of value." Then arms moving open, palms facing out, "I am free to express myself."
Take your time as you say your affirmation aloud, visualize your image, and create a movement that feels like if fits.
The last step is to repeat Affirming, Visualizing, and Embodying your new belief for at least two minutes a day for 30 days. Practice feeling into what you want to grow for yourself, knowing that it is possible, embodying it is the push that gets us from vision to manifestation.
Shakti Gawain, author of Creative Visualization writes, "I like to think of myself as an artist, and my life is my greatest work of art. Every moment is a moment of creation, and each moment of creation contains infinite possibilities." What will be your creation, what is the future you're forming for yourself?