Beauty in the Mind: The Power of Sentiments

I recently noticed how often I call out “Father” as I sink into meditation and what a beautiful space that opens up for me. I have been ruminating on that process and the positive attributes I have assigned to the word “Father”; how I switch back and forth between thoughts of my Dad and of God; and what I intend by saying that – how I seem to be reaching out for the hand of someone larger, for assistance in getting to the place of stillness I seek.  It seems to me that I am being affected by the sentiment itself; that the act of holding a richly positive and emotional sentiment has the power to move me into the realm of the divine. 

I recognize that a classic definition of “sentiment” can refer to a positive or negative attitude. But I am using the term in a strictly positive sense – something like a sentimental sentiment: like the summary impression you might have of a subject after discussing it at length or the lingering residue of emotion you might feel after witnessing something awesome. And I think that simply experiencing a sentiment is something awesome in itself.

I became more conscious of sentiments a few years ago, after breaking up with my girlfriend. She and I had a strong emotional bond and we reveled in describing our happiness and appreciation for each other. We swore oaths of love to one another with utter abandon and superlatives galore. So much so, that, when the relationship came to an end, I wondered what to make of all those things we had said to each other. What was the truth of all those epitaphs if we ultimately decided to go separate directions?

I concluded that the truth was not in the oaths but in the essence. Yes, literally speaking, we made promises to each other we didn’t keep. But from another point of view, we simply exchanged terribly dear sentiments. We told each other what was true for us in the moment, with whatever words and phrases came to mind. That was powerful! This freedom of expression made it possible for us to live in proximity to the untainted, unattenuated ideal of love much more than if we had kept one eye cocked, wary about where we were going and worried about being held responsible for everything that came out of our mouths.

I love you. I love me. I am love.
In his book Rebirthing in the New Age, Leonard Orr recommends writing out affirmations 10-20 times a day in order to achieve a desired result. I started using this technique a few years ago, commensurate with my first rebirthing experiences. The technique helped me reverse some negative thought loops and rise to a new plane of living. As my thinking became more positive, I gradually reduced my practice to a bedtime ritual of saying “I love you”, switching between the image of saying that to someone else and to myself.

Later on I was deeply moved by the book The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die by John Izzo. One of the secrets is “Be love”, so I worked that into my evening ritual. Now I progress from saying “I love you” to “I love me” to “I am love”. I start off picturing myself saying “I love you” to someone I have ardent feelings for. I say that over and over until I am really living in that picture, until I am immersed in that sentiment. Then I turn that phrase back on myself by saying “I love you” to myself. I picture looking at myself in the mirror and repeat it until I really feel like I am appreciating myself, like I would appreciate a good friend. Then I consider the concept “I am love”. I picture myself as a being of love, made of nothing but love, incapable of actions other than loving all things and everyone. Sometimes I can work all the way through that progression and sometimes I don’t. But that’s okay; it is interesting to see what comes up in the process.

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