You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay (1926-), is a seminal, classic self help book, first published in 1984, and subsequently re-printed many times since publication. The book became a bestseller and has been translated into at least 25 different languages, the popularity of its suggestions on mind-body connection, making Hay famous worldwide.
The aims of Hay’s intentions and work, are provided for within the book, discussing her work as a church counselor: ‘since beginning her career as a Science of Mind minister in 1981, Louise has assisted thousands of people in discovering and using the full potential of their own creative powers for personal growth and self healing.’ Her own biography provided at the end of You Can Heal Your Life is inspiring and shows Hay having taken so much negativity and turning this into a publishing success.
Hay House (1987-) a publishing firm founded by Louise L. Hay publishes her books, DVD’s and CD’s. Since 1987 many authors have joined Hay House. Hay House recently released the You Can Heal Your Life film. Hay’s books and her work are a culmination of years of life experience and personal study, and if you have heard her speak, whether in person or via her many CD’s you would be aware that Hay has lived her teachings, and has not jumped on the lucrative bandwagon of personal development. You Can Heal Your Life is evidence of this authenticity.
Written in a straightforward manner with uncomplicated language, some may deem the work simple or simplistic, yet the subject matter and the concepts are deep and difficult to tackle, in so much that they require much effort, practice and work.
Hay’s biography has provided the foundations of her writing. Deriving from a tumultuous, traumatic and troubled childhood and adolescence, it was many years later after the break up of her marriage that her life’s work would start, for she was diagnosed with cancer, this diagnosis propelled her internal emotional and mental work and the associated physical effort.
After her marriage break up and prior to the diagnosis, Hay started studying with the Church of Religious Science in New York City. After 3 years of study, Hay became a church counselor. She also studied transcendental meditation and became a student at Maharishis’ International University, claiming to have been ‘the oldest kid on campus.’ After completing the ministerial Training Program at the Church of Religious Science she started counseling clients, lecturing and speaking. Then her diagnosis was made.
An operation was recommended by the medical profession, Hay negotiated to obtain 3 months to try to eradicate the cancer without an operation, as she felt that the cancer would return if she had the operation without the mental change.
Hay started her attempts to cure her cancer, with non-operative endevaours, that she describes in her biography, discovering that she had much resentment and work to do on the abuse that she suffered as a child. Other work included reading many books on cancer, foot reflexology, obtaining a nutritionist, therapy to release her anger, colonics, examining her childhood and forgiveness. Hay documents the triumph of all this effort in the book: ‘I did not have an operation- however, as a result of all the thorough mental and physical cleansing, six months after my diagnosis I was able to get the medical profession to agree that I no longer had even a trace of cancer!’ This spurned her interest in the ‘mental patterns that create diseases in the body’ but her book does not in anyway attempt to convey itself as a substitute for medical treatment.
Hay started a support group with 6 men living with Aids in her home; this group would subsequently grow to 800, with meetings moved to a larger venue in West Hollywood. The Hayride Support group started in 1985 and formed the basis of another book by Hay, The Aids Book: Creating A Positive Approach. The Hayride Support group continues today and their attempts are to ‘support everyone in their search to improve the quality of their lives. This group is not a replacement for medical treatment. It is an addition to whatever other treatment you may be getting. We are not here to play “Ain’t it Awful”! We are here to do everything we can to empower ourselves in all areas of our lives.’
The Hayride Support group is based on Hay’s work and the same themes are found in her writing. One of her underlying beliefs is that love is a healing force and that learning to love the self is paramount. Another core teaching for Hay is taking responsibility for your choices and life, but not to condone others bad behaviours, but that loving the self sufficiently, choosing well will create new, better experiences. Hay advocates the banishment of criticism, of the self and others, working on the sub-conscious and places importance on spiritual laws, Hay writes: ‘What we think about ourselves becomes the truth for us. I believe that everyone myself included, is responsible for everything in our lives.’
The physical beauty of the book makes the read even more enjoyable. Lavish colour and appealing illustrations are splashed across the book. Covering various areas such as relationships, work, success, prosperity and the body. But her concepts can be applied for various other aspects. Hay includes affirmations at the start of each chapter and ‘the chapters close with a treatment. This is a flow of positive ideas designed to change consciousness.’
You Can Heal Your Life asks the reader to work on exercises and the tools provided on an ongoing basis, in order to create change. Some tools Hay utilises are affirmations, visualisations and meditations. The affirmations are worth the book alone.
A wonderful read especially if you would like to work on the self, are interested in personal development, change and growth. There’s so much to work with. Several readings of the book uncovers new material to work on. Hay includes an eclectic mix of recommended reading.
You Can Heal Your Life can be a difficult read especially if there is much personal work that is required, Hay has in her audio spoken of the responses that clients and readers of her teachings have had, especially when they do her mirror work technique, and the difficulties her readers have faced in doing this work. But the book is also a great joy and life affirming, with Hay’s belief in unlimited possibility. Hay has utmost faith in her readers and clients abilities to alter their lives. You Can Heal Your Life is also a great introduction to her other books.
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