Sermon – Comm-Unity On the Hill Congregation, Washington, D.C.*
Rev. Robbins S. Hopkins, Ed.D.
Thank you for asking me to speak. It is delightful to be here this morning. The question I am exploring today is, “What is authentic prayer”? Just plain and simple, authentic prayer is prayer that works. It is prayer that brings results. It is prayer that produces energy shifts. Authentic Prayer is powerful business. Well then, how do we accomplish this?
The Bible has a few things to say to us about prayer.
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds ….” (Philippians 4:6-7).
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. (Ephesians 6:18).
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26).
Atlantic Beach HDR Sunset – Explored by L1mey
The week before Hurricane Irene, exactly 7 days before it hit this area, we decided last minute to book a house in North Carolina for the week for my husband and myself. We have been going to the beach in August for 41 years and we realized we were not going to go because none of our family were free to join us. We discussed this at length and decided to make a reservation and take a weeks’ vacation just for us. That felt very wonderful, celebratory in fact! One day later, we realized that there was a Tropical Storm in the Atlantic. We thought, we had better arrange for trip insurance in case something more serious became of this storm. We called for the insurance and were told that we could not get insurance now because there was a named storm in the Atlantic, specifically now called IRENE. So, my energy was very focused on this storm not only because of this reservation but also because I had been going to the North and South Carolina coasts literally all my life except for 4 years when were lived overseas.
So the prayers began in earnest. Every time I went into prayer, I got the feeling I was simply nipping at the heels of Hurricane IRENE. I did all the things I usually do in working at the global level but I could not feel any shifts in energy which is how I know the prayers have been effective. One day about the 4thday into the prayer effort, I finally asked in sacred space, “How do we do this?” I was feeling overwhelmed and completely under effective. Someone had shared with me that the Hurricane itself covered an area as large as Arizona. This left me totally amazed. I could feel the power and strength of Irene when in prayer and something I called powerful fury but I did not know how to address it in prayer.
*Comm-Unity on the Hill, meets at 10 Street and G Street, N.W. in jointly shared space with First Congregational Church of Washington D.C.. Services begin at 1 PM on Sundays. Comm-Unity can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-379-4450 . All are welcome.
** This sermon was preceded by a guided meditation for the congregation. This was offered October 2011
We can choose to be afraid or trusting. We can choose to be selfish or generous. We can choose to be welcoming or restrained. Each and every choice we make for the goodness of the greater whole produces more balance. Each and every choice we make which is not for the goodness of the greater whole produces more imbalance.
The greater the imbalance we feel within ourselves, the greater these imbalances manifest in our lives. There is however no dark entity ofdarkpower to be reckoned with sometimes known as the dark side. We can know we are connected in one part of our lives to the Light and we can feel disconnected in other parts of our lives from the Light. In my case, I was very surprised that I felt attacked by something I envisioned as dark energy. I had not felt that fearful energy for years and years and yet there it was showing its ugly head right after our car accident. (spoken about in part 1)
Regardless of where we are in our journey, what we feel, see, sense, and experience is a reflection of the choice to be connected to the Light or the choice to be separated from the Light. This leads us back to the accident.
Why did that accident really happen to us? I kept asking this in my mind and had a hard time not getting an immediate answer. I wondered if I had attracted that accident to us through some means, if I needed to pay a karmic debt that I was not aware of, or if I was being attacked by the dark. I gave a lot of power to this last thought.
There are multiple true answers to this question. Each of us involved, my husband, the truck driver, and me experienced this same accident for different reasons. I now feel that I had this accident to give me a chance to directly face my deeply hidden fear about some force I thought of as the dark. This was not something I might take a Sunday afternoon to contemplate! As with most of us, I would probably always choose to engage in something else, anything else, actually. I needed a deeply shocking experience to go into my own darkness and wrestle my way through all of that old stuck energy.
Even though I slogged through the darkness after the accident, I sensed the minute we were hit, at some unconscious level, that we were not hurt. Immediately after the impact, I was led to pray for the complete and total healing of our fear from our energy fields. I felt an insulating energy drop in around us as the accident occurred and as the investigation was taking place. I also had the dawning thought with increasing certainty that the impact of the truck’s energy on our van was buffered by Divine Presence. We were surrounded immediately by that Divine Energy of Light. We were protected from harm’s way.
This experience of the Divine Presence with us at the accident continued to be present while I wrestled with my own created fear of the darkness. That powerful knowing just stayed within my energy field through all my stages of anger, frustration, uncertainly and questioning I felt I needed to feel. During one phase of my deeply questioning and anger tinged state about this accident, I asked about all the times I had been killed from this dimension. I was told the number. Then immediately following this exchange I heard, “but you agreed to that”. I started to laugh knowing deeply that this was true. Further, if this is true for me, then it is true for every one of us. Even the “innocent bystander” leaves when it is his or her time to leave. At the same time, an innocent bystander does not leave before it is his or her time either.
Yet the question remains, why do some come here and physically suffer and others come and mentally or emotionally suffer? Our entire journey is about coming into balance within our own energy. When we begin to experience this inside, it begins to manifest all around us in all our affairs. Many of the challenges, problems, conflicts, situations we get into are a result of imbalances we have chosen in our lives. If we need to “atone” or re-balance, from some past transgression we have caused, we have infinite ways that we can do that in a lifetime.
Parts of our lives can appear like suffering until we get that we are One with the Light and that we are being given our specific life circumstances so that deep imbalances in our human selves can be re-balanced with the Love of the Universe. We may also have a life in which we are given the option of being here in illness or disability as a way to re-balance some huge transgression of our past or as a way to develop compassion for ourselves and others, or as an example of living with joy and grace with our disability for others to learn from.
We are given whatever we need to come into a more loving and whole space with All That Is. We cannot judge by appearances for ourselves or for others. There is a Divine and Holy Order within this Earth dimension even though we may not be able to discern it. The process of re-balancing for the Goodness of the Whole is taking place, all the time for all people everywhere.
If you think you have brought imbalances, fears and transgressions of the past with you, you can work them out before you are required to do so, in some totally WAKE UP fashion. I recommend all the preemptive work we can do to clear the darkness, fear and imbalance we feel inside ourselves.
You can pray and ask forgiveness for all the people you have hurt throughout all space and time.
You can ask for all the debts of imbalance you have brought about in your times of separation from the Light to be made whole in all ways by Divine Grace.
You can literally call in the healing energy of the Light for all those you have specifically hurt.
You can call for the fear of anything you know you are facing to be consumed by the Light of God/All That Is.
Of course, one has to have the feeling that restoring balance is important. We are loved beyond all measure but knowing that at the soul level requires our acting in this energy. We need to embrace the fact that we can clear our old stagnant energies and past misdeeds by calling for this to happen.
We have to embrace a new intention for being here, one that embraces that all living is for the purpose of healing and thereby for coming into the Energy of the One, the Whole, the Eternal Community of Life. Then all is possible.
What is “the dark” anyway? Is there a dark side as presented in all those sci-fi movies? What if the way we think about good and bad, light and dark, is all wrong. I had occasion to seriously consider these issues recently.
My husband and I were sitting at a red light and were hit from behind by a semi truck. Thankfully, through the grace of All That Is, which is something way beyond us, we were spared great injury though our beloved car is a goner. Therefore, I have been deeply listening and asking very pointed questions about the presence or absence of darkness and about the real energetic causes behind such an accident in this cause and effect world.
The stages I have experienced after our our accident have been shock, rage, defiance, befuddlement, questioning, then listening and reintegrating. The first stage was simply a numbness and exhaustion while all that had happened sank in. This went on for several days and was overlaid with rage and defiance. The rage was directed at some unknown entity in my mind known “the dark”, envisioned as some power apart from the goodness of All That Is. I was defiant and literally remember raising my fist into the air and hissing out loud, a number of times, ” you are not going to get me.” I suppose that was better than wallowing in fear and victim energy, perhaps only marginally though. However, it did not feel very good to be facing the unknowable face of “the dark” nor to imagine “the dark” coming after me again. As there was incredulity and fear connected with all of this, I increasingly became mixed up, unsure of what I was possibly dealing with and I felt lost and befuddled. I also increasingly wondered how could I possibly make sense out of this fear filled and seemingly senseless experience.
My next stage was full of questions. I talked with God, my sons, my husband, my friends, my colleagues, basically anyone who would engage with me. I talked and talked getting out all my questions and misgivings and when I was completely talked out, I listened in silence. I felt no peace in the self-fashioned image I had of “the dark”. As I listened and sensed the Divine Energy of All That Is, I felt more and more deeply that All There Is is the Oneness. We are all connect to that energy, indeed we come from the same source, though some of us do not recognize this in our present state of consciousness.
The Oneness knows all the goodness and all the evil as we are given complete free will to live as we so choose. Some of us choose to consciously live in that energy of the Light and others of us do not. There are natural consequences for remaining outside Light space. One feels alone, fearful, angry, rage, resentment, uncertain, anxious, and far worse as well. That energy manifests as unkindness, cruelty, violence, disaster, war, and disintegration in varying levels to self and others. This is the source of the darkness, these human choices, these human fears and their human consequences.
Through all this searching, a deep knowing has emerged from within. All darkness stems from the human choice to separate from the Light. Darkness is the state of separation of individuals from the Light/ All That Is/ the Greater Whole/ the One Mind. I have suspected this for a while. However, I was amazed that such deep soul searching was still needed to resolve my feelings. With such a highly noticeable event in my life, it was challenging to come to balance with regard to, “why me”? One day, in silence, I realized that I was not the only person involved in this accident. DUH! There were two others in this accident, my husband and the truck driver. So, possibly it was not necessary to wrack my brain for a plausible explanation as it probably did not “belong” solely to me. That was a total relief.
Still, there can be the appearance of darkness everywhere we look. Someone in my meditation group asked about how my insights about there being no “dark” source energy fit with something as horrible as the holocaust. How could anything less that deep darkness explain such horror, death and destruction?
We have had some simply horrific things occur throughout all time and across this entire globe. With the holocaust, in our time, we can include Darfur, the ethnic cleansing in Rwanda, the killing fields in Cambodia plus the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and 9/11 in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C., the Haiti earthquake, not to mention the four most recent oil spills and millions of other devastating events. The question is how does one really believe that there is no “dark” in the face of the horrific situations clearly evident to us, all around.
Dark energy does exist, but it exists through our thoughts, fears and emotions. Millions are making choices individually and collectively which are not in Right Relationship with the Great I AM/Universal One God/Divine Creation. Where there is the appearance of darkness, what we are truly seeing is the result of a human or group of humans making decisions which are not of the Light, disconnected from All That Is, not in alignment with the Highest Good. Those who make decisions and take action, while being separated from the Light, are the creators of darkness. There is no source other than the Energy of All That Is.
We experience human catastrophe, because we have made decisions which are separated from the Light, and are not of the highest good. The decisions are highly likely to originate from fear and anger. We therefore see the absence of Light showing up as war, genocide, murder and abuse. These are all consequences of choices we or those around us have made to act upon fear, greed, jealousy, shame, guilt, hatred, anger and pride.
All the horrible and the all the wonderful things we see are a result of balance or imbalance coming from our thoughts and feelings. We have control over those thoughts and feelings and therefore, the way to a more balanced life is through attention to what we are thinking and feeling. (stay tuned for part 2)
In Exodus 3:14, Moses asks God what name shall I use for you when speaking to the children of Israel. God replies, “I am AHIAH ASHAR HIGH (The Living God, The Sovereign God). Just say I AM ( AHIYA) has sent you.” Today we are addressing the I AM Energy of All That Is. This can only be a tiny sliver of light on this subject however, hopefully enticing you to seek more.
The number one issue we as humans have with God is our thinking. We think we are separate from God. To the contrary, however, we are One with God, we simply do not have this Oneness in our consciousness. As you read this piece, keep reminding yourself, I AM One with All That Is/God. It will keep the familiar thoughts of being separate at a distance.
The I AM Energy is eternal, all loving and whole in the fullest sense of the word. This energy is within every person in body for it is the core of who we are. However, if we are to know of it, grow it, live by it, we must have some guidance and examples of how to do that. Jesus offered one way to know more about this. He said as recorded in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” There are millions in our world who do just that, follow Jesus. However, this statement, “I am the light of the world” could just as well be said by one named Fritz or Ismelda, Lauren or Machi and have powerful presence if they too knew they were One with God. Jesus resolutely knew he was One with All That Is and that is the source of the power of his declaration.
This statement by Jesus however does not mean that he is the only light of the world, that he alone is only way to learn about the I AM Energy. This exclusivity in our views of religion needs to shift. We are all of the same Creator, different sparks from the Flame of Life, different paths given from the same Source. There have been many, many ways we have been called to know of the I AM Energy within. The pathway of the Sufis, the Kabbalah, the Vedanta Sutras are all ways to cultivate a deeper personal relationship with the Energy of Creation. The issue is that millions do not go deeply enough into their chosen pathways to develop their own relationship with All That Is.
Why is this? I think perhaps because it takes a level of commitment to wholeness we are generally not ready to make. In other words, it is easier to follow the dogma, rules and expectation of a specific faith than it is to develop our own relationship with God. It feels easier to focus on all the externalities of life on Earth than it is to go within and speak with God. To develop our own knowing of All That Is, we must be in Silence, pray, ask for forgiveness, let go of our ego and embrace uncertainty in all things with the energy of positive expectation on a daily basis. Further, we have to keep reminding ourselves that we are One with God/All That Is/Great I AM.
Each of us is Divine. We each have that spark of Divinity within. However, we can choose not to seek it, know it or develop it and still live on this Earth. It is as if we have a deep pool of knowing when we are out of body and when we come into body, we have to seek the stillness and connection with God if we want to fully manifest our Divine Beings while in body. It is a practice, a way of Being, a pathway we have to choose. With this pathway comes more Peace, more Balance, more Divine Harmony, Dynamism, Freedom and Creativity. For these characteristics and many more are characteristics of Divine Presence, Brahman or the Unified Field. They are our birthright if we choose them.
If we want to actualize our I AM Energy we have to do two things simultaneously. One is to claim the I AM Energy for ourselves. The second is to train our mind to return again and again to wholeness, love, forgiveness and humility. In this way, the I AM Energy can be fully actualized in our lives and all the positive characteristics of Divine Grace become present in each of our lives. These statements can help us begin to embrace our I AM Energy and call it forth in our lives.
I AM the loving expression of God manifest in my body.
I AM One with All That Is.
I AM the Wholeness and Peace I seek.
I AM the mighty Flame of God’s Divine Presence.
I AM expansive consciousness, loving all in my pathway.
Put one or two of these statements which speak to you some place you will see them every day. Speak them out loud frequently for thirty days and your consciousness will have the chance to change its pattern of perception.
The doorway into the I AM Energy is paved by consistent, loving effort over time. This is one way you can open this pathway more powerfully to receive all the blessings of being One with All That Is. This knowing is already deeply embedded in your full consciousness, it just needs an invitation to be more accessible in your present body or daily consciousness.
Over many years, I have learned to use a particular type of prayer for spiritual healing. My prayers for wholeness have evolved and changed, continually seeking to capture the inherent power of Divine Presence.
I call this specific type of prayer, unifying prayer. Unifying prayer differs from intercessory prayer, centering prayer or supplication prayer, in that unifying prayer specifically emerges from knowing that we are One with All That Is. Unifying prayer calls upon our own Divine Resources, within a sacred space, working with other Divine Energy Beings for the purpose of calling forth Divine Grace for a person, place or situation.
Unifying prayer comes from
knowing that we and God, are One
knowing that Right Relationship with All That Is is our natural state
knowing that seeming imbalances can be transformed or shifted through Divine Grace
Healing comes from Divine Grace. Healing does not come from medicine, our prayers, surgery or therapy. All these things do have their place in healing but are really ways through which Divine Grace is made available through caring individuals in the course of one’s healing. This is a very important distinction. Healing comes from Divine Grace, the energy of Divine Presence being received by those needing healing. Many, many healing modalities can be employed to enable Divine Grace to be received.
If medicine healed in and of itself, all people with a cold would be able to take the exact same medicines and all would heal, every time. Because healing comes from Divine Grace, we have to receive this energy to heal. We may not even be consciously aware of receiving Divine Grace but that is what leads to healing. Generally imbalances manifesting as illness in the body come from blocked energy we humans have created, held onto, nurtured, etc., which disconnects us from Divine Grace. When medicine, prayers, therapy help us release blocked energy, we have the opportunity to reconnect with Divine Presence.
Divine Grace is Love in action. Every time I work with someone who is out of balance physically or mentally, I begin by opening Sacred Space so that I can join with other Divine Energy Beings to work together to call forth Divine Presence for a person, place or situation.
This is what I say:
I call forth my I Am Self ( the part of me that is wholly Divine) , the Ascended Masters, the Angelic Host, the Divine Cosmic Light Beings of the Universe, the Nature Intelligences, Divine Ancestors and Divine Physicians to help me hold this Sacred Healing and Wisdom Circle.
Because I am of Divine Essence like all beings, I have the authority, right and power to call such a circle into existence for the purpose of healing. I imagine that together we are very powerful. Together, all that I call forth is amplified by the Divine Beings working with me. Further, when I listen, the exact wording needed for a person or situation often emerges from the combined knowing of Divine Beings. Still though, in all situations and in all ways, Divine Grace does the re-balancing, the healing, the pacing of the energy shifts, creation and implementation of the plan. I simply call Divine Grace forth, knowing that balance, wholeness and peace is the natural state of bodies, places and situations.
Unifying Prayer begins with the knowing that God and I are One, inseparably, for all eternity. This is the aspect of unifying prayer which sets it apart from all other prayer. This type of prayer emerges out of this knowing of Oneness with all things. Therefore, in unifying prayer, the Lord’s Prayer for example becomes, you give us this day our daily bread, you forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. You lead us not into temptation and you deliver us from evil. In the use of this wording, we are affirming the power of the Great Oneness/God from our sense of knowing of the Oneness ourselves.
Divine Grace, we call forth the Sacred Flame from within Emil to consume the blocked spiritual and fear energy manifesting as depression and self-inflicted pain. This unifying prayer restates our connection with All That Is by affirming that the Sacred Flame is within Emil. The prayer names fear and blocked energy as the reasons behind the manifestation of the imbalances in his life. No power is given to the imbalances. The act of calling forth the Sacred Flame itself is an act of Oneness, recognizing that all people can call forth the sacred flame form of God.
God please help Emil because he is a good person and has lost his way. This prayer assumes that the person praying, God, and Emil are all separate from one another. These words give the impression that God needs to be informed that Emil is a good person. Also, inherent in this prayer is an assumption that help for Emil is not being given by God at the present time. Further, this prayer bases the request for help on a judgement that because Emil is a good person, he deserves help. This stance goes against the Divine order which again and again states that the Highest Good is always what is being desired for us.
I see the Light in Emil and call for the highest benevolent outcome of his current circumstances. This is a unifying prayer affirming that the Light, a form of God, is within Emil. Further, the specifics of the outcome are left to All That Is. However, our calling this energy into this dimension from the realm of unformed energy is very powerful and supports the presence of Divine Grace for Emil.
We lift Emil into the Light and pray for his complete recovery from depression. This is not a unifying prayer because it talks about lifting Emil into “the Light” meaning that Emil is now, out of the Light. We are always in Light even when we are manifesting energy which is out of balance. Further, depression is spoken about here as a condition with its own power rather than as a condition which is temporarily present due to blocked energy which can always be transformed by Divine Grace.
Our words are powerful healing tools. Use prayers which reflect the power we are working with. Make certain that your prayers affirm the Oneness, All Power, All Knowing, Omnipresent characteristics of God. When the words correctly and powerfully reflect the Truth that is God, they are charged with a power beyond human means. They then carry the charge of the power of the Great Grace to heal.
I am an ordinary mystic. This means I spend loads of time in Silence and in communication with all forms of Divine Presence and I also live in society. From the outside I usually look pretty normal in the clothes I wear and the company I keep. I have a home in the suburbs. I have been happily married 37 years and have two sons in their 20s. I have gradually come to embrace my ordinary nature and my mystical nature publicly though the knowing has been inside a long time.
I realized one day that I was beginning to really feel that God and I were One. I felt it deeply and uncompromisingly in meditation. From those feeling I began to see all other distinctions about who I was, what I was doing, why I was here, and what I was facing, begin to melt away. Therefore, the seeming contradictions I had silently harbored of the mystic and the mother, or the mystic and the wife or the next door neighbor were really not contradictions, but merely different views of the whole that is me.
What I mean by God and I are One is this. The Love, Passion, Power, Knowing and Light of God is the same Light of which I am made. There is no difference except in my seeing this as indeed true. I now feel this knowing has been true all my life and perhaps all my other lives as well. And it is true for everyone in body regardless of what is going on in our lives. We simply have to release the deep fears we have and call in Spirit to be with our Deepest Companion and Friend, The Beloved.
It is possible that I may have done this ordinary mystic thing before. It feels much better now that both the ordinary me and mystical me have found each other. Before this time, I had lots and lots of indications that major parts of my life were out of balance. I had chronic, deeply serious back pain for 18 years. I spent a lot of time defending myself whether I was leading a workshop or managing a dorm of 55 adolescent girls. I spent a great deal of time, it seems to me now, getting angry at even the tiniest challenge to my right to be fully independent, competent and powerful as a woman. I more than once laid into my brothers or my dad, men of the deep South, if they even hinted that I was “just a girl”.
I did not suffer fools gladly. In fact, I embraced confrontation on a regular basis. But all this was very wearing. It was not fun and it was certainly not in balance. So, there was a warrior spirit alive and well within me long before there was a peaceful spirit revealed. Perhaps that had to be, so that I could even find a mystical path. For the signs to introspection are not easily seen, nor culturally supported, nor readily embraced by most humans in body. However, for whatever reason, I was pulled into a greater and greater balance in part, a great part, by my eldest son.
Our first child, a son, came as the happiest, smiling person one could imagine. We even called him smiley face, a lot.
When he was 10 he had what was considered routine surgery for a benign cyst in his jaw, discovered during the process of getting braces. That began our odyssey into the world of medicine, fear, pain, loss, trauma and anguish. When he came out of the surgery, he was a completely different person energetically. He had lost his smile and many other aspects of his personality. He was unable to study, focus, go to school, go to sleep or interact with anyone at all, in the way he had before. He had so loved his lego creations and had spent hours creating happily by himself. After the surgery, he would sit and simply not be able to create anything. He was glum and withdrawn.
The surgeon declared the surgery a full success. We knew differently however. We were the ones sitting with him as he cried and raged 2-4 hours every day for months and months, and months. We were the ones sitting with him until 2 or 3 in the morning when he might or might not fall asleep.
The first year, we saw 27 doctors and psychologists trying to get help. I stopped my work to take care of him. I had to. He was out of school for months and had all types of strange new behaviors. He would suddenly freeze and stare as if blinded like a deer caught in the headlights. He would fall down and shake or sometimes he would simply withdraw and not be able to converse.
We went and went, searching for medical help and the going wore us all out. After 12 months our son came to my husband and me one night and said he could not go to any more doctors, they were not helping him. I cried myself to sleep that night with the deep fear that we would never find someone to help us if he would not go anymore to doctors. We had been having great toughs of war for the past 3 months about going to doctors at that time.
In a great state of fear, I thought the only thing left for us was to really, really pray together, out loud and ask God to help us. We had done all we could possibly do ourselves and it was not working. Amazingly, my husband and I had not actually sat down together and prayed about this with God in the past year since it had all begun. We did pray together, out loud and things began to change almost immediately. At the time, we really did not know what had actually happened to our son. He had had the surgery and then had to take his braces off and he had to go to eye therapy after the surgery but we had no sense of the source of the imbalances for him.
After our evening of praying together, however, we were led just a surely as if God took us by the hand out of the dark times into the Light.
Our son took 2 years to appear mostly healed to us with some remaining remnants of those times still showing up for the next 12 years or so. This experience catapulted me completely and wholly into spiritual healing. Our experience dramatically affected our entire household in the most profound and unexpected ways. We each know Spirit in individual and specific ways because of what we all went through together.
Come forward with me 16 years and here is what I have learned spiritually.
Spiritual health is THE basis of all health , happiness and well being. Spiritual health and physical health are one and the same though we do not live our lives this way, for the most part. We still think of healing and health as a physical phenomenon. We still act as if the recurring pain we have originates in the body. We and most of the medical profession look at health strictly through the lens of the body.
Our bodies are the encasing of our consciousness, of our knowing of All That Is. Every nerve, fiber, cell and pathway daily reflects our sense of peace as well as our sense of anxiety. Our bodies are no more than the outer casing for our consciousness. We either exude joy, peace and delight or we exude burden, stress and regret and everything in-between. The choice is ours. We are our thoughts, our feelings, our traumas, our fear and our hopes all rolled into one bundle, we know as the body.
*Comm-Unity on the Hill is a Unity Congregation which meets on the grounds of the National Cathedral in Hearst Hall at the corner of Woodley Ave. and Wisconsin Ave,N.W., Washington, D.C. Services are weekly on Sundays at 10 A.M. They can be reached at email@example.com or 703-379-4450. All are welcome.
“Loving myself seems indulgent. What is all this stuff about loving oneself? I get the best feelings when I help others meet their needs regardless of myself. When I focus on myself, I feel selfish.”
A spiritual definition of loving oneself might be a place to begin. Indulging oneself is yielding to our wants, desires and whims whether or not they are good for us. Loving oneself is making space for those things which feed our soul, our heart and our bodies.
Indulging oneself might be buying another tee-shirt in a color we don’t have or drinking the third beer when two is really enough for the particular evening. Taking a walk outside to be in fresh air and allow all our cares to float away with the wind, is loving of self. Calling a good friend to reconnect because we have been meaning to do it could also be loving of self. The first examples are little treats we might want which we give ourselves permission to do. They can be fun and though they are not really needed, we might say, “go ahead, you deserve them”. The second set of choices are gifts to ourselves of something we really need and benefit from, in order to feel love’s flowing energy in our lives. They are both fine approaches to living, the latter though can bring balance and flowing energy to our sense of self and our bodies.
Why is loving ourselves so hard to do?
Perhaps because we have not ever seen this behavior modeled. Perhaps because when we do things for others, we get recognition and appreciation from another which strokes our ego temporarily. Perhaps it is hard to love ourselves because we don’t recognize our real needs or even know what is a loving act for ourselves.
Loads of us put a very high value on what gets external recognition, reward or influence with others. Others make daily choices that will “get them ahead”, “get them in good with so and so”, or “pay off in the long run”. For example, Washington D.C. is one place I have lived where folks actually get together at breakfast meetings for the long run. When I first moved there, I was astounded to discover this repeatedly. When we continue to fill our days with such choices, our time gets filled up with things we think will bring us concrete rewards in the future. The present can become stale and literally lifeless. Our self suffers.
Then there are choices to help others because it is the right thing to do, it is my role in life, it is required and it is certainly expected of me. Frequently, women tell me they have no time for themselves because they are fully committed to their children, their husbands, their parents, their pets, their neighbors, their synagogue ( church) and the PTA. Men often tell me between home and work, there is no time to even consider what might be a loving act for self. The very thought of it is often strange to contemplate.
A choice to love oneself is foreign in a world where we so often measure ourselves by how well we are doing externally and how fully we meet our responsibilities. A loving choice towards oneself only works when we move beyond finding pleasure in the way others see us, in our external indications of success and in the material possessions and experiences we can gather at will. A loving choice for self, requires some deep time with our own integrity to even begin to recognize what that might be for ourselves. We may have to make some mistakes before we know what really feeds us on the inside. Keep trying though, it is a pathway to the Divine.
When we love ourselves, we are actually able to come closer and closer to the divinity within. When we lose ourselves” to an endeavor of love such as a garden, a hot bath, a painting or walk up a mountain, we totally commune with ourselves. We are One with All That Is. We are not separate from All That Is unless we choose to be by not taking time to “be still and know that I AM God”. Loving oneself is a spiritual act, an act of loving kindness which enables our deep well of love to flow without consideration of the outcomes, rewards or implications. A choice for love enables us to be in the present moment which is all there really is, anyway.
We are not loving ourselves when we are pushing ourselves to do ANYTHING. We are not loving ourselves when we see ourselves as sacrificing our health, well-being or personal needs. We are not loving ourselves when we are trying to please others, influence others, impress others, get something from another or act some way other than in integrity with ourselves. We are not loving ourselves when we constantly choose others’ needs over our own needs.
Well, what about if we have to do something and the only way is to push ourselves to do it? A mental and spiritual adjustment may be needed but pushing is really not loving of self.
I was a life time hoarder before I worked with my mother to clear out her house where she had lived 40 years. I rarely threw anything out and the thought of spending an afternoon cleaning out seemed a completely distasteful experience. At 86, my mother finally decided she needed to move to a retirement center. I was the only one able to work with her to clear out the house, make the choices for keeping, throwing and selling of her things. I dreaded the thought of what had to be done.
I literally felt sick thinking that I had to do this but there was no other way presenting itself. I knew enough spiritually to realize that I needed to clear my fear of clearing out the family homestead and my fear of getting overwhelmed doing it. If I didn’t, I would simply make the process agony for myself and my mother. My mother was already overwhelmed enough for the both of us.
I asked myself, what is the most loving way I can do this without pushing myself, beating myself up, or going into anger and rage about what needs to be done? I decided to move my work around to allow for two days out of town with my mother each week until the work was finished. That schedule, I could handle. I could enjoy being with my mother if I was not paying heavily with my own life. I could have enough energy in small doses to actually be helpful. I could retreat at a given time and re-marshall my energy to be my most effective loving self. This way to work with my mother was a choice for love, and one of the biggest I had ever made. That time became a blessings for us so thoroughly and deeply, I could have never imagined it, ever. The love simply grew and grew between my mother and myself and between my brothers and me as well. The love simply took over and the work got done with the Grace of God, with Love’s Divine Presence! That choice for love turned out to be one of the best experiences Mom and I had ever had in our entire life. We laughed and cried with abandon and wove our hearts together in a new way.
When we choose to love ourselves, everyone around us benefits. We engage our highest self because we put ease, grace and love on the front burner. The act of loving oneself is deeply sacred because it helps us really know the deep integrity involved in making a loving choice for ourselves. One act of loving towards self can teach us more about love than helping everyone on the street and all our next of kin. When we put ourselves into the equation for loving acts towards others, we truly engage the part of us which acts from a pure place of service, loving without need for recognition, reward or attachment.
There is such a thing as a self-centered or selfish person. That is different from making loving decisions for oneself. A self-centered person operates from a space of lack. I need this to happen in this way and these folks to act in that way, for the following to occur. A loving choice for self can only be made from a completely different well inside. In that well is integrity, self-acceptance, allowing and kindness. From that one space, love can expand in infinite directions.
When we experiment and practice making loving decisions, then our choices to help others come from that well of loving kindness inside rather than from the well of shoulds, ought to and have tos. We can then allow the natural order of Divine Love Energy to swirl around, up and through us and extend out to all we meet. Make the choice for love of self with as much humility, kindness and gentleness as you can. You and everyone around you will be richer for this.
What choices can you make today which are loving ones for yourself ? Share these if you’d like, in the comments section at the end of this post.