Savannah Hanson: Knowing ourselves as divine
The longing for belonging is a powerful force shaping the human experience. We want to love and be loved, as that is who we are and where we feel most at home within ourselves and in the world.
In my last column, I cited a 75-year Harvard study that said intimate, loving relationships are the number one determinant of health, above money or fame. My column also discussed how even as late as the 1950s, neither love nor relationships were deemed worthy of study.
Thus the initial research did not even include the factor that turned out to be what the study has currently found to be the most important determinant of health.
Perhaps there is another factor vital to health that has not been thoroughly acknowledged or studied — our relationship with the Divine and with what some call the Higher Self.
“A Course of Miracles” explores in depth how the biggest egoic detour is what the book calls “special relationships.”
In special relationships, we put our attention and focus on our relationship with someone else, someone better, stronger, more worthy than ourselves to “save” us from our own self-rejection.
We place our love and devotion on this person and for a time they do seem to take away the loneliness and separation. Yet ultimately this turns out to be a false lead. They do not and can not fulfill our deepest longing.
We long for something beyond our small selves and thus place pressure on our most intimate relationships, often ultimately destroying them with unrealistic expectations.
No one else can save us or convince us we are lovable, no matter how much passion they shower on us. That is our job.
So while I have no doubt healthy, intimate, loving relationships are vital to good health, I am also aware that one of the most common themes I see in my work as a therapist is the suffering created by trying to make those relationships into a source of salvation.
It is easy to place all our awareness on our external relationships while ignoring our relationship with ourself and our true nature. I see repeatedly in my work and in the world around me how powerfully this force drives us and creates suffering.
We harm ourselves and our loved ones by seeing our relationship with another as the means to our deliverance. “A Course in Miracles” calls special love relationships the ego’s most boasted gift and says it is the “ego’s chief weapon for keeping you from heaven.”
It takes great awareness to recognize this is not the ultimate answer.
Finally, the realization dawns that we are using the love for another to mask our own self-hatred, our own feelings of unworthiness. Then the brave begin the journey within. Sadly, what is perhaps first discovered is a deep self-loathing.
As I passed through this phase over a decade ago I taught a class called, “Self-Love is not for Wimps!” to support myself and others to waking up to our own inherent worthiness.
Once we come into self-love and appreciation, we can move into holy relationship.
It is my direct experience that we do indeed come closest to heaven when we shift our relationship from special to holy. By shifting from special to holy relationships, we move from hell to heaven.
A holy relationship is between two people who know their own inherent wholeness and come to together not out of need rather out of celebration and true love. These relationships rest on a foundation of inner acceptance.
Yet ultimately this also proves not to be enough to end the sense of separation, the longing.
In my work with clients, there is a three-pronged focus: integrating ego and releasing toxicity in cellular memory, developing self-love and finally supporting the knowing of ourselves as Divine. Each aspect has its challenges and opportunities.
So let’s assume we have holy relationship and we love our personal (not egoic) self. Phew, what a ride!
Yet we are still not complete. Until we acknowledge there is a power, a force, an energy beyond this everyday world, we are still stuck in suffering. Many religions begin with the premise we are sinners that need redemption.
What if instead, we are Divine and in need of remembering our origins?
Perhaps what the world needs now is for us to remember, as an embodied Presence, both our own holiness and the certainty that there is something beyond us that supports and holds us.
Until we know this Presence in an embodied way, beyond thought or theory, we will still feel separate, still feel the yearning and, I suggest, still experience health challenges from this disbelief.
Antecedently, I can say that as I sink deeper into this knowing, I have not had a cold or been sick in years.
It is my belief and my direct experience that it is only when we bring all these disparate factors together that we know the peace that passes all understanding and become imbued with love and the yearning ceases because we are now found in the embodied knowledge of our own true nature.
For information on private sessions or classes or to schedule a free 20-minute consultation, contact Savannah Hanson, M.A., MFT #40422 at (530) 575-5052 or savannah@RaisedinLove.com
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