Self-Love is a Spiritual Practice
Self-love is a feeling of utter self-acceptance that is not influenced by what other people do or say. With self-love we are open to feedback, and we are no longer devastated when it is negative. When we love ourselves, we become curious about how other people see us. We use everything that happens to us as information to help us grow.
A feeling of self-love lives more freely when we are dedicated to inner stillness no matter how terrible or great we may feel. When we are inwardly still, and free of stories about what is good and bad about ourselves, we know that we are loved and utterly sufficient, just as we are.
Our Soul is a Stranger to Our Ego Mind
Imagine a time when we meet ourselves, with elation, at the door, and invite ourselves in to become reacquainted with this "stranger who has loved you all your life."
- Derek Walcott, Poet
Who is this stranger that has loved us all of our life? How do we know what our soul feels like? This "stranger" is the love that we always have inside, when we stop seeking love outside of ourselves. This stranger is our higher spiritual self that loves us unconditionally.
The vast majority of human consciousness right now in the world is "me consciousness." In our "me" selves we are caught up in our unfulfilled emotional needs, and are always busy looking for approval and "love" from the outside. If we do not "get" love from the outside, we can feel devastated. We can live our "me consciousness" on a very broad level. We can actually appear quite spiritual, and still be seeking love and approval from others for our goodness.
Our egos can become finely spiritual looking, yet we still may have no contact with the raw truth of our soul because we are still looking for other people and outer circumstances to fulfill us. We can have elaborate and interesting "spiritual egos" or opulent "creative egos" and we still might not know the stranger - the all-encompassing higher part of our soul that has loved us all of our life.
Difficult Emotions Take Us Out of Presence
It is one thing to say "be in the now" or "practice the power of presence," but to actually be steadily and inwardly still in our daily life is another thing altogether. In order to stay truly and deeply present - present enough to meet the soul that has loved us all of our life - we must face the devastating emotions that arise when the love that we crave on the outside seems to be missing.
To find our soul we must turn to face the places in ourselves that do not feel loved, and make the journey back through our stored emotional pain, to find out where we believe we are not lovable. Our soul self lives and breathes unhurt and untarnished behind every difficulty and life challenge we have ever faced in our human existence. Richard Moss MD writes about feeling unloved:
"Very young children do not experience themselves as being in pain, rather all of reality will be pain.
Later in life, situations that represent a similar kind of threat have the potential to re-kindle these buried feelings and throw us into total emotional pain and chaos.
With a tamed emotion we readily recognize what we are feeling and usually believe we know why we are feeling it.
An untamed emotion so embeds us in the feeling that we cannot readily separate ourselves from it, even to name exactly what we are feeling.
We can have a sense of drowning, of dissolution, of devastation.
It seems like an abyss, a black hole that seems to suck us into oblivion. We may use words like dread, unnameable terror, annihilation and suffocation. The unnamed emotions amalgamate time and identity, creating a sense that they will go on forever, that this is all of who we are.
At the first sign of an untamed emotion, we activate ourselves into our survival personalities and divert into tamed emotions like anger or anxiety and assume the identity that is simultaneously generates.
It is far easier and far safer from the ego's point of view, far safer - to feel anger, or hate, hurt, or guilt, hope or fear than non-being (than the perception of not feeling seen and loved by others).
The untamed emotions are the Now we are continually, unconsciously trying to avoid.
The untamed emotions are like guardians at the gateway to our wholeness. We must face our ultimate fears in order to develop a strong sense of self."
Self-Love is Your Connection to Spirit
Self-love is an inner practice that requires consistent and persistent attention to the deeper presence that lives behind our emotional pain. When I began studying A Course in Miracles many years ago I wanted to live more consistently in my spiritual self. I was amazed to discover that when I was able to be deeply present to my divine nature, my self-hatred and self-rejection would completely disappear.
Our human, defended ego is limited in love. We give our self-worth away all of the time to family, to friends, and even to the rules of society. We look for others to love us wherever we cannot love ourselves. In contrast, our soul self is generous and trusting. Our soul swims in a sea of Love.
Excerpted from the Daily Journaling E-Course 30 Days of Passion and Purpose.