Monday, August 4, 2008

Self-Love and Beyond

Much of my daily work involves people who, for one reason or another, really don't care for themselves very much. This includes people in the role of "healer", "doctor", "nurse", and "therapist" as well as "patient".

Some may even feel extreme self-loathing and self-hatred -- but for most of us this is masked. Some escape these painful feelings through non-stop work, figuring that even if we aren't worth loving, we can at least be admired through our accomplishments. It's a compromise.

Other escapes include addiction to substances, or chasing after others to supply the love we feel we're missing. None of this ever fills our bottomless need.

Theories about how we arrive in such painful, desolate places are plentiful. More fruitful questions might be: "What can I do about this? How do I learn to first care for -- and eventually love -- myself?"

The short answer is that it takes a decision, and then moment-to-moment practice. Evy McDonald shared her methods in the article I posted the other day. Here's a quote (with my "bold" emphases):

"I went from self-hatred to self-acceptance and unconditional love. My body had never been right. I came in two sizes as a result of the childhood polio. I despised my body and wished it would just disappear. Outwardly I pretended to accept and love myself. So the problem wasn't totally in the hating of my body, but in the mixed messages I was sending myself. I could give up and just hate myself totally -- or learn to love myself totally. Because I had longed to experience unconditional love before I died, I chose to learn to love my body (which, thanks to the ALS,was now like a bowl of jello in a wheelchair!). Every day I would focus on some part of my body, praise it and love it. I also began to look at myself in a mirror and speak words of love and affection to my reflection. This was not an easy task. But, as a friend of mine says, "If you can fake it you can make it." So, at first I faked it. But, gradually the self-acceptance became real. Eventually, I found myself completely content with me and with my physical body. And, as my experience of love for myself deepened, I was finally able to love others as well as accept their love for me."

When I first heard about this mirror stuff many years ago, it sounded "woo-woo" to me. But I was wrong. Research indicates that our physiology responds to guided imagery and practices like this, sort of like mental rehearsals for an activity. Our brains don't differentiate between "real" and "make-believe".

Interestingly, in Ho'oponopono one of the most important practices is the moment-to-moment care of the child part of us, which houses all unconscious memories, feelings, and reactions.

Ho'oponopono tradition calls this inner child part the "Unihipili"; it requires gentle, loving attention or we experience great suffering. It is through the Unihipili that petitions for transmutation of painful memories can proceed.

People practicing ho'oponopono say there is a mother aspect of us ("Uhane") which can begin the process by deciding to say "I love you", "Thank you", "I'm sorry", etc. Through our Uhane, we can choose this route rather than engaging in or fighting with whatever problem or painful feeling is present. There's a father part also ("Aumakua") that is always in contact with the Divine. If all parts hold hands, we're aligned with Divinity.

When we say "I love you", not only does the child in us feel loved, but it's a way of affirming our connection with Divinity too. Once Divinity takes over, things shift even if we don't immediately see the results. It's an added bonus that my immune cells (and possibly much more) can respond in healthy ways! How beautiful to find multiple traditions converging on the same inner need, and more than one way of addressing it. Choices for everyone, right? Thank you, Evy, Mabel Katz and Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len.

Also, Greg Tamblyn graciously agreed to share the lyrics to his song about Evy (mahalo nui loa, Greg):

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE (The True Story of Evy McDonald)
(Greg Tamblyn)

Evy had a body like a bowl of jello in a wheelchair
Evy had a nerve disease all she could do was sit there
Evy was wasting away, muscles all in decay
She heard the doctor say, six months to live

Evy’d always said she hated her body she was overweight
And now a disease was making her thin what a twist of fate
She was almost out of time, but somewhere in her mind
There was something she had to find out if she could give

She said it’s something called unconditional love
Supposed to be really wonderful stuff
And if you can get enough, you can find peace
So in the time that I’ve got left
I’ve got to find some for myself
I believe unconditional love is what I need

Since all Evy could do was just sit in the wheelchair
Evy rolled it over and sat there in front of the mirror
She looked at her body and caught, every negative thought
And though there were a lot, she wrote ‘em all down

Now every day Evy would sit there naked at the mirror and look
Till she found one good thing about herself to write in her book
And after a few months time, her thoughts began to grow kind
And the negative words in her mind could not be found

She said it feels like unconditional love
And it’s really wonderful stuff
And if you can get enough, you can find peace
So in the time that I’ve got left
I’ve got to find some for myself
I believe unconditional love is what I need

But a funny thing happened when Evy started learning to love herself
The deterioration just stopped and reversed itself
And Evy was moving her arms and legs, and starting to feel
Yes a funny thing happened, Evy started to heal

First chorus

© 1991 Ramblin’ Tamblyn Music
816-756-0069


May we all find our way home,
Pam


Peace Begins with Me

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