Meditation and Affirmations

So, what’s all of the hype about meditation and affirmations? Both are powerful tools to help you on your mental wellness journey!

The founder of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dr. Aaron Beck, identified streams of negative cognitions or automatic thoughts as a source of depression. He helped patients identify and evaluate these automatic thoughts. After working with them, they were able to effectively change their thoughts and their belief systems, thereby reducing depression. [1]

In her book, Switch on You Brain, Dr. Caroline Leaf writes that current neuroscience and quantum physics research confirms that our thoughts change our brains daily. According to the plastic paradox, positive plasticity produces positive behavior and negative plasticity produces negative behavior. [2] Leaf goes on to explain that we take in information through our five senses. Almost immediately, an emotional response is activated. Once we take this information in, it is processed through the conscious cognitive level. Here is where we create thoughts. After a period of repeated thinking, the thought moves into the nonconscious metacognitive level and becomes a part of our internal perception. This is called automatization. [2]

This process is relevant in mental health, because it shows us that we can create new beneficial thinking patterns that can become more automatic. We will quite literally help shape our brains for the better by creating new thinking patterns. And, as Dr. Beck proved, we can improve the quality of our lives as well.

This is where meditation comes in. I prefer this definition of meditation from Merriam Webster: to engage in mental exercise (such as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness. [3] I like this definition because it includes thinking and speaking. In meditation, I prefer to not only sit quietly, but I include visualizing something specific, then I repeat phrases as well. The Hebrew word for meditate in the Bible means to mutter, or to speak. Sitting with, seeing, and speaking your world is a powerfully transformative experience.

If we link the act of meditation with the science of thinking, we are able to see that by choosing new thoughts, allowing them to become automatized, and then living out of this new belief system we can become healthier and happier.

Now, on affirmations. Affirmations are the words that you will repeat. They are the thoughts/phrases that will become automatized and that will then translate into the new way of being.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines affirmation as the act of affirming or something affirmed. If we dig deeper into affirm, it means to validate or confirm. Let’s dig deeper again and we will find that validate means to make legally valid, to grant official sanction to, or to support on a sound or authoritative basis. Therefore, If we work through these definitions, an affirmation is a validation that is supported by an authority.

We hear a lot of talk about positive affirmations in psychology, counseling, and coaching. Cambridge Dictionary defines positive as certain, happy or hopeful, giving cause for hope or confidence. Affirmations, then, that are positive are certain, happy, hopeful, and gives cause for hope or confidence.

By using an affirmation, you are speaking of what you want for yourself and what you choose to believe about yourself. It may not be the facts of your experience, but it’s conclusive of the faith that you have in your potential.

1. History of Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Beck Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Retrieved December 23, 2019, from
2. Leaf C. 2013. Switch On Your Brain. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
3. Meditate. 2019. In Retrieved December 23, 2019, from


Published by Counseling With Leslie

Leslie Stevens, M.Ed., LCMHC is a North Carolina and Virginia board-certified licensed professional counselor. She co-owns a successful practice in Carrboro, North Carolina. Leslie specializes in helping adults navigate stress, depression, anxiety, and perfectionism. Additionally, she is a life strategist, spiritual coach, and writer.

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