January 28, 2013

Can I Really Fool My Own Mind? ~ Tova Payne

Say: “I love myself,” and affirm the phrase over and over.

10 years ago, Louise Hay’s colorful book “You Can Heal Your Life” fell off the shelf, into my hands, and so began my encounter with the concept of affirmations.

Intuitively it made sense to me, and I started the practice of affirmations.

But the skeptic in me thought, “does this stuff really work?”

In my studies of hypnosis, meditation and science of the brain, I was finally able to understand why it worked so well! It’s a relatively new field of science called neuroplasticity.

Any medical professional from the 80s, and even possibly the 90s, were taught that the brain is fixed. In other words, the brain’s cell—the neuron, it’s connections, and networks were fixed at a young age.

Over the last two decades, researchers who were not content with this theory dug deeper, and their research unveiled that our old understanding is simply not true. What became understood was that our brains are not as fixed as once thought, and that there was actually a malleable property to our brains—as the name neuroplasticity suggests. Our mind has a plastic quality—with a little effort and stretching, new thought patterns, and neural networks could be formed.

This means that even by scientific standards, we do have the power to re-wire our brains.

We can re-condition our thoughts and our habits. This knowledge is specifically vital when it comes to the habits, and thought patterns that deplete our potential. We have the power within to re-wire our brain, which means that if you are habitually anxious, easily angered, get sad frequently, or constantly degrade or belittle yourself, you can harness the practice of positive affirmations to improve your mood, decrease your anxiety and enhance your feeling of self-worth. The practice of affirmations will leave you feeling better in the moment, and lead to an actual concrete neural change inside your brain!

So the next time it occurs to you, start practicing some affirmations.

You can practice right after meditation—when your brain is primed to receive messages, or even when you are out on a walk, or making dinner. Send some positive affirmations to your brain as your neural networks get to work—leaving you feeling better and creating the changes that you affirm.

Affirmations are best stated in the present tense, as if it is already happening. Through adding an element of emotion, you strengthen their power.

For example, if you say “I love myself,” affirm the phrase over and over, and integrate the emotional quality of love as you affirm this. Repeat your affirmation for a minute or two, or longer if you have the time. Through your experience, you will determine for yourself the power of this practice—and even science can confirm it’s concrete effects.


Tova Payne is a Graduate of McGill’s Faculty of Science with a major in Psychology. She teaches yoga, meditation, and nutrition, and can be found at www.tovapayne.com. This year she will be releasing a book on nutrition that makes the mind-body-spirit connection, helping you integrate the changes that will empower your life.

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Ed: Evan Livesay
Ed: Kate Bartolotta


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