The Elemental Equilibrium: Notes on The Foundation of Magical Adepthood, by Virgil
Chapter 7: Autosuggestion
Pick a trait you want to develop. Then, design an affirmation containing the idea that you already possess that trait. For example, if you want to develop patience, an appropriate affirmation would be “I am patient.” The affirmation should be worded in the present tense, so “I will be patient” is an incorrectly worded affirmation because it is in the future tense. Furthermore, the affirmation should not contain negative words (not, don’t, no, etc.), so “I am not impatient” is an incorrectly worded affirmation because it contains the negative word “not.”
When you have come up with a correctly worded affirmation, repeat the affirmation at least forty times immediately before falling asleep and at least forty times immediately after waking up. In addition, repeat the affirmation regularly throughout the day whenever you get the chance to.
All of one’s personality traits and habits are rooted in the subconscious mind. Therefore, the student who wants to change his personality and habits must change his subconscious mind. When you repeat an affirmation over and over again, the idea contained within the affirmation sinks into your subconscious mind and takes root. Because the barrier between the conscious and subconscious minds is weakest immediately before falling asleep and immediately upon waking up, these are the best times to practice autosuggestion.
Autosuggestion Throughout the Day
During the summer of 1492, I had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of meeting the current president of the Bardon community when I travelled to visit her in New York. I stayed at her home for a week, and we had a number of long conversations about the nature of magic and magical training. She told me many stories and anecdotes about these subjects. One of them was about a friend of hers named Kelly. Kelly worked as a secretary for an insurance company in Corona and lived in a house in a suburb just outside of the city. Every morning, she would drive ten minutes to work. Every evening, she would drive ten minutes home. One day, her car was repossessed. As a result, her ten minute drives turned into hour-long walks. At first, she was extremely annoyed that she now had to walk an hour to work in the morning and an hour back to her house in the evening. It seemed like wasted time. However, she soon realized that this was an opportunity to use autosuggestion. Thus, every morning, she would repeat an affirmation over and over again for the entire walk to work, and every evening, she would repeat an affirmation over and over again for the entire walk back to her house. Her two hours of repeating an affirmation each day proved astoundingly effective towards the transformation of her character. She was able to eliminate vices and build up virtues much faster than if she had just repeated an affirmation forty times before going to bed and immediately upon waking up in the morning. When her car was first repossessed, she thought a terrible thing had happened to her. She wasn’t wrong, but the fact is, because that terrible thing happened to her, she ultimately ended up advancing along the magical path much faster than if her car had never been taken away from her. With two hours of autosuggestion a day, she was able to eliminate her irritability in just a month and a half. Without those two hours of autosuggestion each day, it might have taken her two years or more because the trait was so deeply rooted into her genes, mind, and personality.
Anytime you are doing a mundane task like tidying up the house, pruning trees in the yard, sweeping, stirring cake mix, walking upstairs, or doing the laundry, repeat an affirmation over and over again. Making this a way of life is one of the secret keys to rapid advancement along the magical path.
“And what is your name, please?” asked Tangle.
“Grandmother,” answered the lady.
“Is it really?”
“Yes, indeed. I never tell stories, even in fun.”
“How good of you!”
“I couldn’t if I tried. It would come true if I said it, and then I should be punished enough.” And she smiled like the sun through a summer shower.
In the above passage, Tangle meets a great adept named Grandmother who is unable to lie. This is because anytime Grandmother says something that is false, it automatically becomes true. Her voice and speech have the power to transform the universe.
Remember that according to the inner adept idea, your real self, which is present at the deepest layer of your being, is a great adept of at least the same caliber as Grandmother. Whatever he says immediately becomes true. You can tap into his power so that your voice also has the ability to speak situations or facts into true existence. The key to doing this is faith. This is reflected in the words of Jesus when he said,
“Truly I tell you that if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and has no doubt in his heart but believes that it will happen, it will be done for him.”
If you make a statement with faith, your faith will empower the statement in such a way that the idea contained in the statement manifests in reality. Therefore, when you repeat your affirmation, do so with full faith and conviction that you are speaking the truth. When you say “I am patient,” truly believe that you are in fact patient. Take this as far as you can. Don’t just believe you are patient. Believe you are a paragon of patience or an embodiment of the most perfect form of patience. Have faith that this is truly the case.
Some people think of autosuggestion as a way of building up positive qualities. Since our inner divine selves already possess all positive qualities, perhaps autosuggestion is just a way of reminding ourselves that we actually already possess the positive qualities we think we lack. When you say “I am patient”, you are reminding yourself that you are patient. You act impatiently because you’ve forgotten this is the case, but once you remember your true nature, you’ll live and act in accordance with it. In light of this view, when you say “I am patient,” you really are speaking a true statement and therefore should have no reason to doubt the veracity of your words.
The Magical Power of Speech
There are many spiritual and magical texts discussing the magical power of speech. When these texts describe the process of Divinity speaking the universe into existence (e.g. Genesis), they are not referring to literal human speech, but to the divine art of Creative Speaking. This is the art of using the Cosmic Language that is formed from the “letters” of the Cosmic Alphabet. These “letters” are potent and primordial forces that underlie and sustain creation. Those who have completed Step 8 of IIH or reached the equivalent level in another valid system of magical training can tap into the power of these letters using various quadripolar three-sense concentration practices. For specific details, consult KTQ.
Although Creative Speaking and human speech are not the same, they are analogous. From this fact, we can conclude that human speech possesses its own kind of magical power that is reminiscent of the power of divine speech. For this reason, a number of spiritual texts discuss the magical power of human speech when it is magically trained. This power can be harnessed and applied via any spiritual technique with a vocal component, including autosuggestion. Because of this, through my years of researching autosuggestion and compiling notes on it, I have collected together a number of spiritual texts and passages discussing the magical power of the trained human voice. Due to space limitations, I’ll include just one. It is a passage from John O’Donohue’s book Anam Cara.
For the Celts, the world is always latently and actively spiritual. The depth of this interflow is also apparent in the power of language in the Celtic world. Language itself had power to cause events and to divine events yet to happen. Chants and spells could actually reverse a whole course of negative destiny and bring forth something new and good. In the Celtic world, and especially in the Celtic world of the senses, there was no barrier between soul and body.
Your destiny is determined by your personality. A negative personality will produce a negative destiny. A positive personality will produce a positive destiny. Autosuggestion can be used to change a negative personality into a positive personality. In this way, repeating an affirmation can certainly “reverse a whole course of negative destiny and bring forth something new and good.”
Be intelligent when you design your affirmation. If you are suffering from insomnia, do not use the affirmation “I fall asleep easily.” If you do, you will end up falling asleep while driving, while at work, and in numerous other situations you would rather not fall asleep in.
Magic is an art. Everything about your magic should be beautiful, and that includes your autosuggestion affirmations. Do not use an affirmation like “I fall asleep instantly and immediately at 10:30 in the evening every day except on Friday nights.” That’s not a beautiful affirmation. That’s an incredibly awkward affirmation. In addition, it’s kind of restricting too. What if one day you need to stay up late and can’t go to bed at 10:30? What if one Friday night you want to go to sleep early instead of partying late into the night?
For insomnia, “I sleep well at night” and “I fall asleep at will easily” are better affirmations to use. Both are elegant and concise. I used the former to get over my insomnia.
No language is perfect. Sometimes it might be tricky to come up with a concise and elegant affirmation to deal with a particular trait. An addiction to smoking is one of those traits. A few years ago, I taught a small three month long introductory course on magic at a local bookstore in Seattle. I challenged my students to come up with an elegant and concise affirmation for someone addicted to smoking. The best one they came up with, in my opinion, is “I am free of the desire to smoke.” I like it. I’ve never smoked, so I haven’t tried using that affirmation, but I can’t find anything wrong with it. In fact, I think that general template works well. Patience is the opposite of impatience. Some negative traits are like that. There is a single word that has the opposite meaning, which makes it easy to design an affirmation to counter it. Other negative traits like lust don’t have a nice neat single word with the opposite meaning. For those traits, you could use an affirmation like “I am free of lust.”
Besides not being confusing for you and your subconscious mind, concise affirmations have other advantages. You can say the affirmation in one breath. Also, because they are short, you can say it more often than you can say a long one in a given period of time. Since the effectiveness of autosuggestion depends largely on how often you repeat the affirmation, a concise/short affirmation will result in more effective and powerful results.
A Tired Tongue
On some nights, before I had built a healthy social life, I would go on long walks lasting hours. Sometimes I’d leave shortly before midnight and would not get back to my apartment until around 5:00 in the morning. During the hours I was out, I would be repeating an affirmation with full conviction nonstop.
The thing is, when you have been repeating the exact same affirmation over and over again for a long time, your tongue will get tired. My solution for this problem was to design multiple affirmations that mean the same thing. For example, let’s say you are trying to make yourself continually present-minded.i Consider the following three possible affirmations.
“I am present-minded.”
“I am focused.”
“I am aware.”
These all mean roughly the same thing and can be used to make yourself continually present-minded. Repeat the first affirmation over and over again. If your tongue gets tired from repeating the same thing for so long, switch to the second affirmation. Cycle through the three affirmations in this way.
Autosuggestion and the Other Prongs
Magical washing comes naturally to me. I didn’t need to work to get the hang of it. The first time I tried it while washing my hands, it was so easy for me to feel my negative traits leaving me, entering the water, and being carried down the drain. I know a lot of people that don’t take easily to magical washing though. The same thing goes with conscious eating and conscious breathing. Some people sweat and contort their faces into all sorts of strange grimaces as they struggle to impregnate their food with a specific positive trait. If you find yourself doing that, conscious eating clearly doesn’t come naturally to you. In The Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Musashi states that “You should not have a favorite weapon. To become over-familiar with one weapon is as much a fault as not knowing it sufficiently well.” The techniques of the six-pronged attack are the weapons with which you fight against your negative traits. You shouldn’t be way more proficient in using one of the techniques than you are with the others. Good strategy necessitates that you become proficient in all of them and make use of all of them. Otherwise, your attack will only be one-pronged.
If you are bad at using magical washing, conscious eating, or conscious breathing, you can use autosuggestion to get better. Just repeat an affirmation like “I am a master of conscious eating” or “I am proficient at conscious eating.”
Autosuggestion should come naturally to everyone. All you’re doing is just repeating a statement to yourself. As a result, everyone starts off already able to use this powerful technique of self-transformation. By applying it strategically, you can quickly become proficient in some of the potentially more tricky techniques like conscious eating, conscious breathing, and magical washing. In this way, you will soon be able to apply the full force of the six-pronged attack against any negative trait you wish to rid yourself of.
Autosuggestion When One Risks Being Overheard
When you are pacing back and forth along a lonely road in the middle of the night, you can repeat whatever affirmation you want out loud. There is very little chance anyone will hear you. However, what if you are in a situation in which the chances of someone hearing you repeating the affirmation to yourself are much higher? For example, what if you are repeating your affirmation while walking to the restroom at work? There’s a good chance that a coworker or employer walking by you will hear you whispering the affirmation to yourself.
Any person overhearing you will probably guess that you are using some sort of psychological self-affirmation technique to transform yourself. Therefore, if you are repeating the affirmation “I am patient”, the person will infer that you are impatient and trying to work on that. Speaking for myself, I would not be comfortable with people knowing I am impatient, violent, disorganized, or stingy, even if they also know I am taking measures to develop the opposite positive traits. I assume you are the same way. Therefore, when you are in a public place, there are three options available to you. The first is to repeat the affirmation silently in your mind only. I don’t like this option at all because for me, an affirmation repeated only mentally is not nearly as powerful as a physically vocalized suggestion.
The other option is to repeat an affirmation you wouldn’t mind people overhearing. For example, I suffer from insomnia. When I am using autosuggestion in a public place, I repeatedly whisper “I sleep well at night” to myself. Any person who happens to overhear me whispering this to myself could deduce that I have insomnia and am trying to use some sort of psychological self-affirmation technique to eradicate that issue. However, I really don’t care if people know I have insomnia. On the other hand, as I said before, I wouldn’t want people knowing that I am impatient or violent or anything like that.
This illustrates one advantage of tackling three negative traits—one major and two minor—at once. One of the traits can probably be fought with an autosuggestion affirmation you wouldn’t mind people overhearing you repeating to yourself.
The third option is to use the magical exhalation instead. This will be discussed in Chapter 9. In short, instead of repeating an affirmation like “I am patient,” you repeatedly exhale out the quality of impatience.
Read Coué’s Book
Émile Coué, who created the technique of autosuggestion, wrote a book called Self-Mastery Through Conscious Autosuggestion. I highly advise you to read it. The more faith you have in the power of autosuggestion, the more effective it will be. In his book, Coué describes the many successes he has had with the technique throughout his years working as a psychotherapist. The book will help you realize how powerful autosuggestion can be.
Sometimes when I practice autosuggestion, I use a trick I call “conscious grounding”. Basically, while repeating the affirmation to build up the positive trait within me, I feel and believe that the opposite negative trait is flowing out of my feet and draining into the ground. For example, if I was repeating “I am patient,” I would feel and believe that impatience was draining out of me and into the ground. I’d also simultaneously feel and believe that patience is taking root in me and growing in order to fill the void left by the exiting impatience. Conscious grounding should not be seen as a prong or self-transformation technique in its own right because it’s not. It’s just a simple psychological trick that helps enhance the effectiveness of autosuggestion.
Lomer’s Three Points
According to Georg Lomer, any affirmation used for autosuggestion should be “positive, powerful, and brief.” Let’s examine these qualities.
A positive affirmation is one that has no negative words like “not” or “don’t.” Instead of using “I am not impatient,” you should use “I am patient.” Instead of using “I don’t act rudely toward others,” you should use “I act politely toward others.”
The affirmation should be powerful, not weak. Let’s say you are trying to use autosuggestion to become better at conscious eating. Weak affirmations include “I am ok at conscious eating” and “I am mediocre at conscious eating.” Use a powerful affirmation like “I am a master of conscious eating.”
The affirmation should be brief. This was discussed in the previous section about concise wording.
In addition to these three qualities, I also mentioned earlier that the affirmation should be worded in the present tense. This should be added to Lomer’s list. When you create your affirmations, make them present, positive, powerful, and brief.
Some authors recommend making hand gestures in order to enhance the effects of autosuggestion. Such hand gestures should not be seen as “mudras” or “anchors.” When you repeat an affirmation while practicing autosuggestion, you should feel the meaning contained within the affirmation sinking into you and taking root. These hand gestures are just psychological tools that help increase this feeling. Usually, people who use hand gestures use them when they are practicing autosuggestion while walking, sitting, or standing. As far as I know, they are usually not used when you are in bed repeating the affirmation while trying to fall asleep. Here are some of the more common hand motions people use when they recite their affirmations.
Giving a Speech
This is pretty self-explanatory. Your hands move as they would if you were giving a speech. In a sense, you are giving a speech of sorts. You are both the speaker and the audience. In other words, you’re giving a speech to yourself when you continually repeat the affirmation.
This hand motion looks as if you are flicking water off your fingers. While doing so, you should feel as if you are flicking the negative trait out of yourself. The positive trait, which is embedded into the autosuggestion in the form of a seed-idea, fills the place left by the expelled negative trait and then grows. People who practice magical washing are familiar with this gesture. They do it when they have finished washing their hands. In their case, they actually are flicking water off their fingers while imagining they are flicking the last drops of the negative trait from themselves.
In this gesture, you swipe your hands downward. The motion parallels the feeling of the idea sinking down into you. It also parallels the feeling of the negative trait flowing out of you and into the ground if you are using conscious grounding.
In this gesture, your hands make a motion as if you are weaving something. While doing this, you imagine that you are weaving the idea contained in the suggestion into your astra-mental body, personality, or subconscious mind. For example, if you are repeating the affirmation “I am patient,” you make a weaving motion with your hands and imagine that you are weaving patience into your personality and soul.
Not everyone will find that hand gestures have a place in their ideal approach to autosuggestion. For some people, using hand gestures will increase the effectiveness of autosuggestion. For other people, it will make no difference. For other people, using hand gestures can be distracting and therefore will weaken the effectiveness of autosuggestion. Experiment to see how it affects the effectiveness of autosuggestion for you.
The Three Levels of Autosuggestion
There are three aspects to the correct practice of autosuggestion.
- On the mental level, you must know that the affirmation you are saying is true.
- On the astral level, you must feel that the affirmation you are saying is true.
- On the physical level, you must actually say the affirmation out loud.
Just because you know something is true doesn’t mean you feel it is true, and just because you know something is not true doesn’t mean you feel it is not true. For example, in one mental illness documentary I watched a few months ago, a person with OCD was being interviewed. He explained that his computer mouse always had to be facing north. Mentally, he knew that nothing bad would happen if it was not because that is ridiculous. However, he couldn’t shake off the feeling (on the astral level) that bad things would happen if the mouse was not facing north. Another example can be seen when riding a roller coaster. You know that you are safe, after all, there are strict safety rules regulating the creation and testing of roller coasters. If there was any indication it was unsafe, the amusement park would not be allowed to open that ride. However, although you know you are safe, you still feel that you are in danger. In other words, you feel scared. How you feel astrally does not align with what you know mentally.
In order to increase the effectiveness of autosuggestion, you must both know and feel that the affirmation you are speaking out loud is true.
Many people (Mouni Sadhu, Georg Lomer, and Bill Mistele to name a few) recommend visualizing a relevant image when practicing autosuggestion. For example, if you are trying to eliminate acrophobia from yourself, then while you are repeating “I am comfortable with heights” over and over again, you also visualize yourself walking on a high tightrope perfectly comfortably. You can do this from a first person or third person point of view. If you are really uncomfortable with heights, you can start off by visualizing this situation from a third person point of view and then switch to a first person point of view when the trait has weakened.
The idea behind this add-on to autosuggestion can be found in the phrase “Seeing is believing.” To really believe something is true, you must know and feel it to be true. As mentioned in the previous section, believing the affirmation you are saying is true helps increase the effectiveness of autosuggestion.
For some people, looking at an image that shows the affirmation is true will help them believe it is true. That’s why many people use the visualization add-on. Consider trying it if you are having trouble believing in the veracity of your affirmation. If you can see yourself acting patiently by visualizing yourself acting patiently, it is easier to believe that you are patient, which makes it easier to effectively practice autosuggestion using the affirmation “I am patient” when trying to become patient.
That said, don’t think that visualization is a necessary part of autosuggestion. If you can easily get yourself to believe in the veracity of your affirmation without visualization, then there is no need to use visualization and it may just end up being a distraction.
Experiment with different rhythms. One person I know says that autosuggestion works best for him when he recites the affirmation in groups of three. In other words, he will recite the affirmation three times, then pause briefly, then recite it three times again, then pause again, etc.ii
In addition to using verbal autosuggestion, some people have experimented with written autosuggestion. Written autosuggestion consists of writing the affirmation over and over again instead of speaking it. Consider experimenting with this.
In the traditional autosuggestion Bardon teaches, you repeat a single simple affirmation over and over again. Some people have tried using more complex affirmations, apparently with good results. These complex affirmations are made of multiple sentences. An example of such a complex affirmation to become proficient in conscious breathing is below.
I am a master of conscious breathing. When I inhale, I inhale only the positive trait I desire. When I exhale, I exhale only the negative trait I desire to be rid of. I am proficient in every aspect of conscious breathing.
One person I know says that she finds simple affirmations better for verbal autosuggestion and complex affirmations better for written autosuggestion.
Summary of the Most Important Points
In this section, I want to briefly summarize the most important points I’ve made in this chapter.
The affirmation should be worded in the present and should not contain negative words.
The affirmation should be powerfully and concisely worded.
The affirmation should be repeated at least 40 times before going to bed and at least 40 times immediately upon waking up.
The affirmation should be repeated over and over again whenever you are doing some mundane task like cleaning, walking, cooking, wrapping presents, or drying yourself after showering.
When repeating the affirmation, you should believe with full conviction that it is a true statement.
Autosuggestion can be used to become more proficient in the techniques of conscious eating, conscious breathing, and magical washing.
Q & A
Q: How long does it take for autosuggestion to being working?
A: Many people, including myself, have noticed the transformative effects beginning to appear in as little time as one day. How long it takes for the transformation you seek within yourself to be fully complete varies and differs on a case by case basis.
Q: I know you said that autosuggestion is more effective if you firmly believe the affirmation as you speak it. Will the technique still work if you are unable to get yourself to believe the affirmation?
Q: Do you recommend using written autosuggestion?
A: No. I recommend experimenting with it to see if it is effective for you, and then using it if it does.
iThis is the second mental exercise in Step 1
iiThree quarter notes followed by a rest. Another rhythm you could try is repeating the affirmation twice fast, once slow, and then pausing—two quarter notes, a half note, and a quarter rest.
To find our more about Virgil please view Our Author page. Virgil also has a blog named Awake in the Starlight you can follow him on.
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