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Creating the Great "I AM"

I recently heard the saying "Those who think they can and those who think they can’t are both right.” It made me pause and think about how powerful the mind and words are.


The ancient yogis knew how powerful and influential the mind was and how its impact rippled out to affect everything within and everything around a human as well.

Thoughts can take many forms, they can be memories, plans, lists, dreams, or conversations. Thoughts can become the words we speak out to others or they can remain inside as inner conversations directed towards ourself as ‘self talk.’ From time to time we may find that we are talking ourselves into or out of something, sometimes we’re psyching ourselves up or calming ourselves down, and then there are the times when the talk is not so productive, positive, or uplifting, sometimes it can be negative to downright cruel. At times that self talk may turn into statements which name and claim things about ourselves that may not be true or accurate. As the saying goes,

Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.


What we say matters, whether that is directed outward at others or inward at ourself.

The yogis believed in the immense power of words and not just in their meaning but in the energetic vibration that those words carried. They built entire practices around carefully curated sounds, words, and combinations of words. The practice was to repeat them over and over in order to submerse and saturate themselves in both the meaning and the energy. Some of these phrases were a calling out, a praising, to celebrate, and some were about self affirmations.

Those things we say about ourselves are incredibly influential seeds that are being planted and cultivated with every repetition.

Those things we say about ourselves are incredibly influential seeds that are being planted and cultivated with every repetition. The positive “I am” statement has the power to set good seeds in the mind and create good vibrations in the heart. On the other end of the spectrum the “I am” statements that contain negative declarations or untrue statements can gradually wear away at someones self esteem, resilience, and personal power.

In the teacher trainings that I lead at Kripalu, we invite each student teacher to create an affirmation for themselves after they complete a practice teach. They get to name and claim something about their gifts, passions, and prowess through an “I am” statement which we then repeat back to them over and over to help them take it in. This is done very deliberately after the experience is over in order for the last part of the integration to an uplifting confirmation & celebration.



To pay attention is my endless and proper work - Mary Oliver


Mary Oliver said, “To pay attention is my endless and proper work.” That is the work of a yoga practitioner on the path to being a fully awake and alive human being, to pay attention. The first step to changing anything is to become aware of it. As we tune into our inner world it is critical to instill the qualities of curiosity and openness to this deep listening.


The second step to turning the tide is compassion, including compassion for ourself.

Mother Teresa said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."

We can ‘drop’ a word into a conversation that creates a vibration that ripples from the source out and out or in the case of self-talk in and in and in to affect everything it touches. Again what we say matters, choosing to speak and think words of kindness, love, support, inclusion, empowerment, and compassion is an art. And the words in and of themselves are powerful medicine!

The first component is being open and aware and the second component is the open awareness is imbued with compassion.


It is actually quite easy to contemplate, talk about, and even implement compassionate awareness when it comes to thoughts and speech but once you commit to practice you may find that it is not that simple. There are lots of nuances, vast swaths of gray area, and blind spots galore.

The good news is between the numerous encounters you have with other humans along with the approximately 70,000 thoughts in any give day (a scientifically estimation) you’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice.

With willingness, time, commitment, patience, and tenderness for what you encounter, you will feel and see the tide shift and the vibes lift, and the good seeds take root & grow. But remember it will not always be easy but it will be worth it!


What are those things that you tell yourself or proclaim about yourself? What seeds are you planting?

Are they positive, powerful, and uplifting or are they shaming, blaming, and disempowering? If they are the latter how can you turn them into statements that are both true and productive. For example, instead of “I suck at listening!” instead you may say “I am practicing compassionate listening with every conversation.”


In this process you may be shocked or delighted or both by what you find, but I am willing to bet that it will always be interesting.

Here’s to wishing you thoughts that build the bridge across the miles that separate you from your true nature!


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