As many of you know, international bestselling author, speaker, publisher and inspirational leader Louise Hay passed away at age 90 this last Wednesday. In remembrance of her, I reread her short but classic book You Can Heal Your Life yesterday. Like putting on a pair of comfortable slippers, I could almost hear her voice as it watered the seeds in my mind planted there many years ago. With an awareness of how she influenced my thinking, I thought it only fitting to share some of the key ideas she nurtured within me that helped me create the life I am living today.
Back in the late 1980’s my husband Thom and I found ourselves at a crossroads. We’d been married around ten years at the time. And while life was going okay, something seemed to be missing. Our search took us to discover a number of books that hinted at ways to find meaning, purpose, and spirituality in our lives. While neither of us had any interest in traditional religion, we felt drawn to explore alternative spiritual paths. That’s when we discovered the Church of Religious Science*. No, not Christian Science. Not Scientology. Religious Science, or as it is sometimes taught: Science of Mind.
If you haven’t heard of Religious Science it’s not surprising. While it was founded back in the early 1900s it has never become as well known as some of the other progressive New Thought churches like Unity. And honestly, Thom and I didn’t get involved because it was a church at all. What we did respond to were the practical, positive and meaningful messages that we heard on Sundays. From there we signed up for weekly classes in The Science of Mind and began to uncover a deeper aspect to creating a good life.
How does that tie into Louise Hay? It turns out that sometime during the 1970s, Louise also began attending a Church of Religious Science in New York. Like us, she began taking Science of Mind Classes. Part of the progression of class work is to eventually develop the consciousness to not only make positive changes in your own life, but to help others as well. Called affirmative prayer or “treatment,” Louise became a master at helping others—especially in the area of physical health. Using her effective experience, Louise self-published her first book Heal Your Body at the age of 50.
A few years later, Louise was diagnosed with cancer. Using what she’d learned through Science of Mind and other studies, along with her own ideas and inspirations, she reversed the diagnosis and became cancer free. Then, using her clients and her own background, she gradually made the connection that certain types of illnesses came from certain types of fears, resentments, thoughts, and behaviors. With her own healing behind her, Louise published her bestseller You Can Heal Your Life in 1984. This book explained her life philosophy as well as the correlations she made between different types of illness and disease and the general thinking behind them that can serve as a trigger.
I can’t recall exactly when I first heard Louise’s name. I read her book so many years ago I can’t even remember when or where. I have also been fortunate to hear her speak live at least half-a-dozen times through the years. And while I never met her in person, like I said above, her influence continues to inspire my own thinking. Like Louise, Thom and I eventually included many other teachers and philosophies into our belief system. But always, our connection to Louise and many of her fundamental thoughts stuck with us.
So what was it about Louise and her teachings that were so powerful? If you think that Louise used her charisma and marketing skills to sell over 50 million copies of her book around the world, you’d be wrong. Yes, she was a beautiful and stately woman and knew how to communicate well. But what makes her ideas particularly powerful was her loving and assured self-awareness in spite of a background of tremendous physical, mental and emotional abuse from her childhood. Like a handful of others who managed to rise above the most horrendous circumstances, Louise proved to herself and others that anyone can overcome and triumph over their past by choosing to embrace the right thoughts and beliefs.
A few of what she considers to be right thoughts and beliefs are:
- Life is really very simple. What we give out, we get back.
- We are each responsible for all our experiences.
- Whatever we believe becomes true for us.
- Awareness is the first step in healing or changing.
- Every thought we think is creating our future.
- The point of power is the present moment.
- Everyone suffers from self-hatred and guilt.
- The bottom line for everyone is, “I’m not good enough.”
- We created every so-called illness in our body, and our body, just like everything in life, is a mirror of our inner thoughts and beliefs.
- No matter what you think about something, it’s only a thought and a thought can be changed.
- The only thing we ever have any control of is our current thought.
- We must release the past and forgive everyone.
- What we put our attention on grows.
- Self-approval and self-acceptance in the now are the keys to positive changes.
- When we really love ourselves, everything in our lives work.
I’m well aware that these ideas may sound super simplistic. How on earth can they change your life? As Ernest Holmes, the founder of Religious Science once said, “The demonstration is the authority.” And remember, it isn’t necessarily the words that help heal or transform a person. Instead, it is the belief and consciousness behind them. So, although the ideas might sound simple, developing that consciousness takes years of disciplined practice.
Fortunately, Louise had a unique gift that allowed her to share her deeper understanding with those who were willing to listen. Using their willingness, Louise would then lead them to a greater belief and awareness. Throughout her life, Louise managed to heal millions of people. Perhaps even more important, Louise helped to introduce people to the power of their own mind.
Neither Thom nor I have ever faced a life-threatening disease. I imagine it might be challenging for some people to accept the idea that their thoughts, their feelings of inadequacy, and/or their own self-hatred keep them tied to a loop of illness. But for those who have tried everything else and are willing to explore the possibility, healing can happen. Even better is to consider the idea that the best preventative health action possible just might be to accept that we are individually responsible for our health—and develop a loving mindset that keeps us healthy.
But healing doesn’t just happen in the body. The type of healing that Louise shared with the world was as much about the mind and soul as anything else. By gradually weaving her ideas and all the others that we picked up from similar teachers like Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Carolyn Myss and many others, Thom and I managed to turn our lives around in more ways than I can say. Like Louise said, “When we really love ourselves, everything in our lives work.”
Called the “Queen of Affirmations” Louise also became known for her powerful books on positive affirmations, her annual conferences, and her publishing company that helped to promote and spread the work of hundreds of other spiritual teachers. Her legacy extends far and wide and deserves more than this small post can provide. But remembering those who came before us and helped us discover who we truly are and why we are here is always SMART. In truth, Louise Hay will not be missed because her work continues on in all that hold her in their heart.
*Churches of Religious Science are now called Centers for Spiritual Living
From: You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay
In the infinity of life where I am, all is perfect
whole, and complete, and yet life is ever changing.
There is no beginning and no end,
only a constant cycling and recycling
of substance and experiences.
Life is never stuck or static or stale,
for each moment is ever new and fresh.
I am one with the very Power that created me, and this Power
has given me the power to create my own circumstances.
I rejoice in the knowledge that I have the power
of my own mind to use in any way I choose.
Every moment of life is a new beginning point
as we move from the old. This moment is a new point
of beginning for me right here and right now.
All is well in my world.
Your turn: Have you ever read You Can Heal Your Life or have you read or seen other work by Louise? If yes, please share your thoughts and memories in the comments below.