• Cynthia McCarthy

Mirror, Mirror, Spiritual Practice

There are all kinds of spiritual strategies and practices out there, and certain ones resonate with certain people. Maybe you attend church regularly or enjoy serving others in your community. Maybe you privately focus on prayer or meditation. Maybe you read scripture regularly or keep a gratitude journal. We do the things that work for us, the things that bring us closer in our relationship with God, Spirit, Universe, Source. I for one am glad there are so many different ways to do this!

Today I’d like to discuss my least favorite spiritual practice, which sounds silly to say. It’s not my least favorite to talk about or teach, but it’s literally my least favorite to use in my own life, personally. Why? Because it's hard work, and it's deeply personal. The good news is, it's also pretty darn impactful. (That's why I like to write about it every now and then because it forces me to dive in and give it a try again!)

My least favorite spiritual practice is…Loving the Self. I can hear you now…”That’s a spiritual practice?” Yes, it is!

Remember that rather important commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself? We’ve all heard it, and when we hear it, we tend to gloss over that last part. If we do anything at all, we start focusing on loving our neighbor—reaching out to them, showing compassion, caring about them, forgiving them, etc. We forget that there are two components to the commandment. It doesn’t just say love your neighbor. It says love your neighbor AS YOURSELF. 

We’re supposed to be loving our neighbors in the same way we love ourselves. Well, what way is that exactly? We’re supposed to be paying attention to ourself, showing compassion for ourself, caring about ourself. It’s pretty weird to think about, isn’t it? We’re supposed to be treating our neighbors in the same loving way we treat ourselves. It seems like that would be a natural inclination, but the truth is, sometimes we don’t treat ourselves so lovingly.

I’m talking about negative self-talk, criticizing yourself, thinking you’re not good enough, and generally not loving yourself.

Louise Hay spent decades in her ground breaking career as a lecturer, author, and publisher teaching people to love themselves. Her best selling book, You Can Heal Your Life and the accompanying film offer a life changing look at the way we think about ourselves, talk about ourselves, and treat ourselves.

We are, after all, magnificent divine beings! If we believe in the idea of a Creator God, who creates life, who is life, then we are, each of us, a child of God, born perfect, whole, and complete. I invite you to think about that and consider what that means to you.

Shouldn’t we be loving ourselves the way God loves us? God would never call you stupid, or think you’re unworthy, or judge you for mistakes you’ve made. God is your biggest cheerleader in life. Use your own mind, your own thoughts to tap into God’s loving acceptance, approval, and love. Speak kindly to yourself; forgive yourself. Make a conscious effort to love and approve of yourself.

Louise Hay suggests saying to yourself over and over again, “I love and approve of myself." Here’s the kicker: she recommends looking at yourself in the mirror while saying it. Go on, give it a try. Look at yourself in the mirror right now, and say out loud: “(your name,) I love you. I love and approve of you. I accept you for who you are. I am a child of God, perfect, whole, and complete.”

Don’t be surprised if it feels pretty weird, silly, or even emotional! Keep practicing. Set a goal to try it every time you happen to pass a mirror. It’s a powerful exercise that demonstrates the great love God has for you, to connect and unite your perfect, balanced self.

Now THAT’S a spiritual practice worth trying!

Blessings, Rev. Cynthia

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