The following description of the use of affirmations is an excerpt from Lessons of the Lotus: Practical Spiritual Teachings of a Traveling Buddhist Monk by Bhante Y. Wimala. ©1997 Bantam Books, New York. (See Bhante for more information about Bhante and the healing efforts of his ministry.)
Affirmations are highly effective mind-training tools that can help one to progress toward spiritual goals by consciously reinforcing wholesome thoughts relevant to those goals.
Affirmations take one much further than mere thinking or wishing. Through repeated practice, they enable one to be what the words of the affirmations intend. In fact, one meaning of the word affirm is "to maintain something to be true." Thus, if a person who is presently inclined toward hatred can bring himself or herself to repeatedly say "I am loving" day after day, the mind will soon cause his or her actions to be tinged with love -- though, in the beginning, the wholesome virtue may appear only to a small degree. If the person is already in a loving disposition, the practice of that affirmation will strengthen his or her disposition and develop it to an even higher level.
What is true of positive affirmations is, of course, equally true of negative affirmations. A common negative affirmation is "I can't do that," which often is a fully matured carry-over from what was initially said by someone who had a significant influence in one's early life, such as a parent, teacher, or older relative. People often carry the effects of such affirmations right through adulthood into old age (and pay a heavy price for it) unless steps are taken to correct them. One obvious way to do that is to become aware of the negative belief and use a superimposing positive affirmation.
Affirmations work because the autonomic nervous system cannot differentiate between real and imaginary input. By repeating affirmations, we are overriding an unwholesome thought with a wholesome one. The more an affirmation is repeated, the more it becomes ingrained in the mind and, therefore, begins to condition one's behavior. In other words, the thought or the view one reflects upon becomes part of one's conditioning, and that conditioning influences one's behavior.
I use an affirmation containing three important words every day after my meditation: "I am kind, loving, and patient." The practice (not only of this affirmation, but of any affirmation) always has the potential to go beyond mere words. Having mentally uttered the words, I spend a few minutes contemplating what I mean by them, thereby helping along the process of new and wholesome mental conditioning.
Affirmations are powerful, positive, and present. They may be designed to counter any recurring thoughts of lack or limitation. Following are some examples of powerful, positive, present-tense statements that may be repeated for re-programming the mind from negative thinking to those thoughts which allow for greater potential and possibility in life.
"I am open and receptive to all the good and abundance in the Universe."
"I now receive my good from expected and unexpected sources."
"I am an unlimited being accepting from an unlimited source in an unlimited way."
"I am one with the Power that created me."
"I am totally open and receptive to the abundant flow of prosperity that the Universe offers."
"All my needs and desires are met before I even ask."
"I am Divinely guided and protected."
"My good comes from everywhere and everyone."
"I listen with love to my body's messages."
"I love and approve of myself."
"I am healthy, whole and complete."
"I accept perfect health as the natural state of my being."
"Everything I need to know is revealed to me."
"Everything I need comes to me. All my needs are met."
"I move from the old to the new with ease and with joy."
"I love myself, therefore I make healthy choices in all aspects of my life."
"I am a magnet for Divine Prosperity."