[bandcamp width=350 height=350 track=397380065 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=e99708] My student Amanda shared this Ze Frank song with me today after my weekly downtown Portland 1:05pm yoga class at West Side Athletic Club. She was spurred to do so by my announcement that I’m co-teaching a kids meditation workshop at Mississippi Health Center on October 11th. “Have you heard of Ze Frank?” Amanda asked when I explained that the workshop was all about giving kids the tools to stay calm in the face of big emotions. I am so glad she pointed this song out! Ze Frank wrote it for a web pen pal of his who felt despondent. He wrote the basic chorus, and a whole crew of people sent him their own recordings of the positive message:
Hey. You’re Okay. You’ll be Fine. Just Breathe.
Frank mixed the voices together to create a lovely chorus! It’s such a simple message. Doesn’t listening to it feel like getting wrapped up in a blanket of loving kindness? Listening to it, it really does seem like everything will be just fine.
Why should such a silly little ditty have such a huge impact on mood? Why has this song struck such a chord with so many people?
Because it’s an affirmation.
That word — affirmation — sends many peoples’ eyes rolling, I’m sure. It probably brings to mind “The Secret,” and the idea that we can design our futures through the power of positive thought. Now, I’m not saying that thinking you’re rich will immediately make it so, but I can tell you that from a yogic perspective, thought creates reality. What we think becomes true for us.
In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali describes our mental patterns as samskara– mental ruts that are difficult to escape once the pattern is established. And neural science backs up this yoga philosopher. “What fires together, wires together,” the neurologists say, meaning that neurons that fire at the same time once tend to fire together more in the future. So the thoughts that we have over and over again are “ruts;” they’re habitual tracks that can seem almost impossible to escape.
What’s more, we see what we’re looking for. What I mean is this: If you have a certain lens on the world, you’ll see evidence for your own beliefs everywhere. And you’ll be quite likely to ignore, or not even notice, the parts of your experience that don’t fit in with that belief. Psychologists call this inattentional blindness.
Affirmations can help us “rewire” the brain to see more positivity and joy around us. During my last bout with depression, I used affirmations to see my life in a new perspective, and to set goals for what I was looking for in my life. Here are a few of my favorite affirmations–please use them, share them, make art with them!
All is well. The universe is bringing me to my highest good. Out of this situation, only good things will come. I am safe.
I am attracting supportive, positive friends who like me exactly as I am.
I can handle anything that comes my way.
I look and feel terrific.
To this day I continue to use affirmations as a daily prescription for mental happiness. I choose to fill my head with positive thoughts, and (as the neurologists predicted) more happy, positive thoughts come my way! Maybe you’ll think I’m crazy, but I do affirmations while on my bike, in the car, while swimming… anytime I want to add more happiness and joy to my life.
So… if the rain has you feeling down, say an affirmation or two! The keys to make an affirmation effective: a) Phrase it in the present tense. b) Practice it. The brain won’t shift immediately, it takes time and commitment to have the mental space you want. c) Change out the subject. I learned this trick from Louise Hayes. So I would say “I can handle anything that comes my way” the first three times, and then “You can handle anything that comes your way” the second three times, and “Colleen can handle anything that comes her way” the last three times.
Share your favorite affirmations below, and let me know how the practice goes!