You can do all the programming and techniques you want to get a better life, but if you don’t love yourself, it will not change a damn thing. You will still feel the same way about yourself tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that.
The bottom line is the most important relationship you will ever have is the relationship you have with yourself. This relationship can be a rewarding one when rooted in self-love, or it can be toxic when not. So, what is self-love? Why is it so important? And most importantly, how do you find it?
The Heart of the Matter answers these questions and more. It takes the esoteric concept of self-love and makes it accessible by clearly defining the three necessary components of self-love. Learn how to reconnect to these components by:
• Discovering the transformational tools that are available within.
• Learning how to use these tools to uncover what you really think and feel about yourself and the world around you, and more importantly why.
• Transforming the wounded parts of self that have been separated from this love through practical steps and exercises for healing and forgiving the past.
• Empowering yourself to make more loving and conscious choices about what you believe and therefore what you will feel and experience.
We all are searching for more love in our lives. The Heart of the Matter not only shows you where to look but also gives you a roadmap on how to get there.
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Read an Excerpt
What is meditation, and why is it important to engage the imagination?
Meditation is simply focusing your attention. However, when you combine attention with imagination, you can become the healer and architect of your life.
In the past twenty years, meditation has gone mainstream. What at one time was considered a practice only for certain religions or New Agers is now being discussed as a healthy practice by doctors, teachers, and others as a way to decompress and become centered.
So what do I mean when I use the word meditation? Meditation is just the focusing of your attention. Period. Meditation is a way for you to slow down your ego chatter (head chatter), move out of your logical mind, and move into your inner world, where the real work is done. All that is required is an intention to be present and practice. You can meditate lying down, sitting up, in the tub (great for emotional clearings), on the bed, or even while walking. Once you become proficient, you can even do it on a subway!
However, in the beginning, I would suggest it be done in silence or with music. I often used instrumental music that matched the emotion I was working to bring forth. Music can be one of the most helpful tools to get you out of your logical mind and move you into your emotions. Music can lift you out of the everyday and transport you to your inner world. There is no quicker way to connect to your imagination than through the language of music, and you are going to need your imagination for much of your inner work. So I recommend using it — especially if you are a very logic-centered person.
There are many types of meditations. Centering or quieting meditations are the types most people identify with when discussing mediation. They entail focusing on your breath and quieting your mind for a period. The idea is to free yourself from all thoughts and feelings in the moment and put your focus on taking deep, slow breaths. Some people will focus on an image in their mind's eye. Others focus on relaxing each muscle, starting at their feet and slowly rising to the top of their head. Still others like to repeat a mantra, allowing them to go deeper into their quiet center. Centering meditations are a great way to calm down, quiet the ego voice, and become grounded. However, they are not the only types of meditations.
By using creative visualization techniques — or, simply put, your imagination — meditations become a way into your inner landscape, where all healing begins. Creative visualization meditation is simply using your imagination to visualize what is happening inside of you. We all have used creative visualization in some form or other in the past. If you have ever spent some time daydreaming (a powerful creating meditation), you have used creative visualization.
I call creative visualization meditations working meditations because during such meditations you are meditating with the intention of connecting to the various parts of yourself. Working meditations can be used to heal childhood wounds, confront your shadow aspects, connect with your Higher Self, converse with the universe, release fears, uncover beliefs, feel love, do vital emotional clearings, and so much more. The sky is the limit when we engage our birthright to imagine.
I start my working meditations the same way I begin my centering meditations — with breath and moving out of my logical mind. But instead of ignoring the feelings or voices, I follow them to their sources. I use my imagination to see where a voice is originating from or what a feeling looks like and who within me is feeling that way, and then I stay there and work.
By "work" I mean I envision the voices and feelings as separate beings or energies or symbols, and I listen to them and dialogue with them in my mind. For example, if I were emotionally triggered outwardly by something that touches an old unhealed childhood wound, I would envision the inner orphan in meditation and listen to his or her pain or fear and slowly begin to show him or her love, compassion, and empathy. Whatever the orphan feels is missing, I offer it to him or her. If the orphan is afraid, I offer him or her my hand and walk through that fear with him or her. Don't worry; this will make more sense as we get further into the work.
I do want to mention that being in meditation does not mean you will not be aware of what is around you. I have heard people use the excuse "I don't have a quiet place to meditate." Yes, it is helpful to have a quiet, secluded place to begin your practice, but it really doesn't matter. I have been in meditation, clearing pain or anger or fear, when my neighbors above me started stomping above my head. Instead of stopping my meditation, I used my frustration at what was going on above me to move deeper into the emotion I was working with. My belief is that life is in my favor, so if I was getting pissed off from the sounds around me, I knew to push deeper into my frustration and anger and discover what was hiding underneath those emotions. Those "disruptions" actually became instigators for me to go deeper into my emotions and learn more about myself. So as much as the disruptions may have pissed me off, they were always gifts that arrived at the perfect moment.
The other excuse I hear often is "I can't keep my mind focused." Well, guess what, no one can when first starting out. That is why we call it a practice. You have to practice! You may only be able to focus for a minute or two in the beginning, but your focus will grow with time. Just be compassionate with yourself. Remember: You're not being graded or judged. You are not a failure if you allow your mind to wander. Just take note of where it tends to wander off to and when it wanders. These will be huge clues as to what your ego thinks is important, as well as how your ego works to distract you. The point of the work is to learn about all the parts of yourself, and that includes how your ego works.
For example, I would be in the tub doing some healing work on my orphan when I would suddenly realize I had just spent ten minutes giving a self-righteous speech in my head about why the world is screwed up, or twenty minutes rearranging and decorating a room. Sounds crazy and not of much use, right? Wrong! Those diversions taught me a lot about myself and my ego. If I was experiencing self-righteousness, I realized I was actually feeling powerless. One of my ego's reactions to feeling powerless is self-righteousness. If I was decorating a room, I knew that my ego did not want me to deal with the issue I was working on or feel the pain I had just uncovered. Ego wants to keep the status quo at all costs, and mine was a pro at it.
One of your primary jobs in your inner work is to be the detective: to take notes and to follow leads. So don't waste time berating yourself for losing focus. Do take note of the berating, however, because that is an excellent clue as to how you treat and judge yourself, and you will be able to use that information later when you are working on self-love.
If you do lose focus, just take a breath, refocus, and begin again. Your inner world is not going anywhere. It will always be waiting for you to return. You just have to find the courage to begin again.
Questions to Investigate
1) What are your thoughts about meditation?
2) What are your feelings about meditation?
3) Have you ever tried meditating? If so, how did it go? If not, why not?
4) Can you believe meditation can be a tool for self-discovery and healing? If yes, why? If no, why not?
5) How comfortable are you with engaging with your imagination?
6) Have you ever looked at your imagination as a gift? If not, why not?
7) Is your imagination an important part of you, or do you see it as frivolous? Why do you see it the way you do?
8) Can you remember a time when you used your imagination in a negative way, such as envisioning a worst-case scenario? Describe how you used it then.
9) Can you remember a time when you used your imagination in a positive way, such as daydreaming a new dream for yourself? Describe how you used it then.
10) Have you ever considered that there is an inner world inside of you with all the answers to all your questions? If not, why not?
11) How open are you to exploring this inner world?
12) Does the idea of entering your inner world frighten you? If so, why?
13) How might your world change if you discovered this inner world?
(As with all the meditations included in this book, please read the exercise in its entirety before you begin.)
A good visualization exercise is to create an inner safe and loving place. You didn't think I was going to just talk about meditation, did you? You will use this safe space each time we do a meditation exercise at the end of each chapter, so it is important that you create it before we go any further. If you already have a meditation practice, use this exercise to expand your safe space, adding more elements that invoke feelings of love. I have never met anyone who can't benefit by expanding his or her capacity to feel love.
Once you have taken a few deep, slow breaths and are centered and focused on the present (not worrying about your grocery list or job), allow your imagination to begin to create your inner safe place. Just play at it like a child would, not worrying if you are doing it right or wrong.
Just enjoy the process of creating an inner landscape using your imagination with no limits. It doesn't matter how the landscape looks. Some people may see mountains; others, trees or beaches. Still others may see a church or an ancient temple. Make it up! It can't be wrong, since anything you make up is coming from your subconscious anyway. Moreover, what your subconscious reveals is a tremendous boon to your detective work of getting to know yourself.
Stay with the initial image, adding as many elements as you wish. See the sky (if there is a sky). Is it full of stars or perhaps a moon? Is there water nearby? Are there rocks or cliffs? Are there animals milling about? If you are in a building, what is it made out of? Is it smooth and shiny or rough? Is it new or ancient? Is it open to the sky, or does it have windows? Go wild. It is your safe space, so add all the elements you need to feel safe and secure when there. All that truly matters is that it feels safe and loving. You have to start the loving sometime! After all, love is the end goal to all this work.
Once you have the space created, begin to add images that actually invoke a feeling of love for you. Animals or pets can often be very helpful in bringing in the feeling of love to your space. For some, invoking the feeling of love may be difficult, but don't let that stop you. You may be able to feel love for only a few seconds in the beginning, but it will grow if you keep exploring through your imagination what love looks and feels like to your heart. Your logical mind will not have the answer, since it always looks outside of itself for everything — not to mention that it most likely has a confused notion of love from past negative experiences. However, despite the bumps and bruises your heart has endured, it still remembers love. So keep playing with varying images till you feel something move within your heart.
Again, I want to stress that the point of all the work we will be doing is to allow ourselves to feel love coming from within. Self-love is not about seeking love from the outside. It is about reconnecting to the ever-present love that resides in all of our hearts. So don't worry if you have trouble in the beginning. Whether you believe it or not, you too have this wellspring of love inside of you, just waiting to be discovered.
My safe space started out years ago as a grove of giant ancient redwood trees that would shower me with flowers when I entered it. I felt so loved every time I arrived that I would run like a child and wrap my arms around one of the trees, which would in return wrap its branches around me like a giant mother's arms. I felt not only safe there but also loved and known. I used that image many times as a safe place to cry out my tears and fears. Those branches cradling me gave me great comfort and made me feel that I mattered. Even though I didn't understand why mattering was so important yet, what I did know was that it felt safe and loving.
Once you have created your space and filled it with as much safety and love as possible, allow yourself to just be within the space, feeling its effects on you and your heart. When you are done, you can end the meditation by thanking yourself for taking the time to do this work. You may not be able to feel gratitude for yourself at this early stage, but it will begin to set up a pattern of honoring yourself and the work you are willing to do.
Okay, put music on if you wish, get comfy, and close your eyes and create your safe, loving space.
Now that you have created your safe place within, you can return to it anytime to do your work; but don't be surprised if it changes or suddenly reveals trails leading off in different directions. As you become more comfortable using your imagination, your subconscious and Higher Self will begin to show more inner areas for you to discover, heal, and transform, always for the purpose of learning about yourself so you can be empowered to choose love and return to your natural state of self-love. So stay flexible and let your inner landscape change and grow, but know you can always find your way back to this safe and loving space at any time.
Oh, and congrats to the first-timers. You just did your first working meditation. It doesn't matter how long you were able to stay there or how intricate or elaborate your inner world became. All that matters is that you tried.
If you had trouble keeping focused on images or were unable to feel any sense of love in the exercise, just know that that is okay. Remember: a major part of the journey toward self-love is getting to know yourself. Rather than being disappointed, just note how your mind drifted and where it tended to drift to. Were there negative thoughts or voices trying to belittle the process? Did it feel as if it took forever when it actually was only a minute or two?
All of these responses will tell you a lot about what is going on inside you as well as how attached you are to following your ego's voice as the captain of the ship. It doesn't matter how adept you are at meditation. The point is to learn about yourself. As long as your intention remains focused on self-discovery, then you can consider it a success.
The homework for this chapter is very simple. Throughout the week, return to your safe space. See if you can stay there longer than before. Try expanding it with your imagination to make it even more loving and safe. How is it different if you use music or change the music? Observe whether you are able to feel the safety and love present in your space. Notice how you feel when you come out of meditation.
As always, end your meditation by thanking yourself for taking time to go inward. This may not seem like an important step, but you must remember that your goal is to return to self-love. These seemingly small gestures of love, gratitude, and respect will keep you focused on the end goal of receiving love from within.
If you don't bother to return to your safe space, ask yourself why. I am not going to preach that "you can only get out what you are willing to put in," because you already know that. The good news is that you can still discover much about yourself even if you don't do the homework. What excuse did you make for not doing it at least once? Was something or someone more important to you than you?
Not returning will tell you a lot about how you prioritize your needs or how easily you get distracted. Any information you garner about yourself in the end is always helpful. So don't berate yourself if you don't return; just acknowledge the true reason for it. Honesty — both mental and, especially, emotional — is key in making any changes in life.
During the week, if you catch yourself being judgmental about your meditations, imagination, or inability to feel love, silently say this affirmation:
I will be patient with myself. I know my meditations are getting better and better. I know I have a powerful imagination. And I know I will feel love.
This action will aid you in consciously observing your life and detecting what is going on both inside you and around you rather than blindly going through your day. It will also set your intention on discovering your inner world and staying open to where that journey will take you, as well as reinforcing the end goal of feeling love.
Excerpted from "The Heart of the Matter"
Copyright © 2017 Joffre McClung.
Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part 1: The Three Essential Tools,
Chapter 1 What is meditation, and why is it important to engage the imagination?, 1,
Chapter 2 What is a "Higher Self"?, 21,
Chapter 3 Why are emotions so important for returning to self-love?, 43,
Part 2: The Three Components of Self-Love,
Chapter 4 What is self-love?, 77,
Chapter 5 What does it mean to be lovable?, 95,
Chapter 6 What does it mean to know you are a loving person?, 115,
Chapter 7 What does it mean to know you are loved?, 135,
Part 3: Investigating, Interrogating, and Integrating,
Chapter 8 What do you mean by consciously working with emotions?, 163,
Chapter 9 Why do I have to unmask my childhood or old wounds?, 181,
Chapter 10 Why do I have to bring my behavior out of the shadows and into the light?, 207,
Chapter 11 What are safety nets, and why can't I keep them?, 229,
Chapter 12 What is the final step of integration?, 273,
Chapter 13 What's next once I have integrated my orphans and forgiven the past?, 295,
Chapter 14 Can I get a description of one of the loving parts waiting to be discovered, and perhaps a hint of what is to come?, 305,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
BLUEINK EDITORIAL REVIEW “McClung uses strong, concise writing in short chapters, followed by questions, meditation exercises, final thoughts, and homework that can lead readers down their own paths. While the brevity may leave some wanting more, it's ideal for those who enjoy quick, enriching reads. Particularly enlightening is the author's exploration of "shadow work"-- defined as "the process of owning the emotions, beliefs, and behaviors you have...often unwittingly projected onto other people." And the chapter about "safety nets" such as judgment, control and the need to be right, which supposedly help us feel safe, will hit home for many. You don't have to be deeply scarred from childhood hurts to benefit from The Heart of the Matter. Anyone who needs to let go--of self-criticism, negative attitudes, and despair--will feel as if they are getting a virtual hug through McClung's gentle prose.”
Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite The Heart of the Matter: A Workbook and Guide to Finding Your Way Back to Self-Love by Joffre McClung is a groundbreaking work in the area of personal development and success, a book that offers readers the one important thing they need to succeed in personal life and in business. There have been a lot of books on achieving success and personal transformation, but many of such books talk about techniques that readers can use to get where they want to be - some of these include changing their mindset, practicing the law of attraction, and many others. In his no-nonsense style, McClung challenges readers to do the one hard and essential thing that guarantees success - to love themselves. But what does self-love have to do with success in any way? Filled with powerful insights and exercises, this book combines traditional Eastern philosophy with Western thought to guide readers on the path towards self-actualization. Articulating with confidence, the author unveils what readers need to do to fully become present in themselves, embracing themselves, and redefining their dreams. This book will help readers to develop a positive and powerful relationship with themselves, because every journey towards success begins at home. I felt different — extremely different — after reading this book because it contains the message I needed to hear. We have been taught by some teachers to feel guilty about loving ourselves, something seen in popular quarters as selfish, but the author opened my eyes to the truth that any love flows from the love we have for ourselves and that it is important to invest in who we are. The Heart of the Matter: A Workbook and Guide to Finding Your Way Back to Self-Love is a compelling message that will set readers on a new path of hope, a gift that must be passed on. Can’t recommend it enough!
The Heart of the Matter, Joffre McClung not only inspires the reader on the quest for Self Love, she provides a useful set of tools and techniques to help readers achieve peace and love within themselves, which is the source of all success and happiness in the world.