Meditation Connection

Practicing Strengths Articulation as a Companion to Meditation

by Jennifer Rose


Strength does not come by thinking of weakness all the time. The remedy for weakness is not brooding over weakness, but thinking of strength. Teach men of the strength that is already within them. 

– Swami Vivekananda, Practical Vedanta and Other Lectures, Volume 2



This practice approach to articulating your Strengths-focused Identity is an excellent companion to an evolving meditation practice. It can help you whether you are anticipating the start of a meditation practice or you already have a stable practice. Subjective strengths articulation supports meditation in many ways. It builds our capacity for directing our attention. It provides practice in choosing useful thoughts. It also sews the seeds for a mental and emotional environment that is conducive to meditation.


Internal negativity sometimes must be reduced before a beginner is willing to start a regular meditation practice. Doubts, anxiety, depression, and other forms of negativity can be so off-putting that we are reluctant to withdraw from the external distractions of the world; we are reluctant to explore our internal landscapes in meditation. It is not unusual to find the contents of the mind almost intolerable, and many people spend a lot of time and energy distracting themselves from troubling regrets as well as worries about the future. 

Subjective strengths articulation creates a mental environment that is more positive, and makes our internal landscapes more inviting. Increased mental positivity can make a meditation practice possible where it had been impossible before.


Meditation teachers frequently address the subject of mental positivity in their lectures and writings. Here is one example from Paramhansa Yogananda, the author of Autobiography of a Yogi, one of the most widely read books about meditation. Yogananda is the founder of Self-Realization Fellowship.


Change your thoughts if you wish to change your circumstances. Since you alone are responsible for your thoughts, only you can change them. You will want to change them when you realize that each thought creates according to its own nature. Remember that the law works at all times and that you are always demonstrating according to the kind of thoughts you habitually entertain. Therefore, start now to think only those thoughts that will bring you health and happiness.


While this passage is uplifting and useful, changing one’s thoughts is easier said than done. There is the important question of “how” we are to change our thoughts. Subjective strengths articulation is a simple and practical method. After reading a passage like Yogananda’s it may be easy to remember to think positively for a minute or even a day, but habitual negativity creeps back in sooner or later unless habitual positivity takes its place.


Once a meditation practice is established, subjective strengths articulation can continue to provide mental discipline that accelerates progress. The capacity to observe a thought, but not to identify with it, is central to meditation. In subjective strengths articulation we observe how shifting our focus and changing our thoughts transforms our sense of who we are. Observing this elasticity of identity makes it easier to choose not to identify with our thoughts in meditation. When we have no experience with observing our thoughts, we automatically identify with the thoughts that arise. Over time, even a positive identity might begin to feel limiting. In advanced meditation, the practitioner asks what would be left if identity were left behind, as it is each night in deep sleep. We ask, “what if I could consciously experience that state?” 


Beginning meditation enables practitioners to reduce physical tensions and let go of mental negativity. That is an inherent reward of early meditation. However, to progress in meditation another phase must be encountered and tolerated. Again, subjective strengths articulation comes to the practitioner’s aid and provides mental stability. The new capacity to let go of tension and negativity that comes from beginning meditation produces an internal feedback loop. When the deeper levels of the practitioner’s mind grasp that a new ability for release has been attained, mental negativity arises at a quicker rate. Unfortunately, some people give up at this point thinking that a meditation practice that once “worked” by bringing them relaxation and calm is now failing them. At this critical juncture, persistence is key. And every tool that supports mental discipline and directing attention is useful.


Understanding the meditation process and having subjective strengths articulation as a method for stabilizing the conscious mind work hand in hand to allow the meditation practitioner to progress. To use subjective strengths articulation as a companion to meditation, you should: 1. Make a habit of directing your attention away from disappointment and toward moments that are personally meaningful and uplifting. 2. Appreciate yourself by articulating your subjective strengths. 3. Cultivate an emotional and mental environment that is positive and enhances your meditation practice. This will help you maintain a regular meditation practice and you will reap its rewards of peace and resilience.