“…And the greatest of all these is love.” ~Corinthians
You could explore and study love for your whole lifetime and still never fully understand it. You may only catch a glimpse of its fascinating possibilities. Love is one of those expansive eternal forces - far beyond our senses’ ordinary perception. It is something many dream of, imagine about, and wait for.
Some say love is the essence of all there is and that love is the answer. Some say love hurts or it doesn’t even exist.
Some prophets say that there is only love or fear at the root of everything - and that love is the only truth.
We all have different versions and understandings of love - which evolve throughout our lifetime. They may range from a feeling for a soul mate to one about a favorite shirt. Love can be a sweet nickname or a feared word. Some express it with tenderness, others with strength.
Some say I love you to everyone. Some reserve it only for “the one”. Others never say it at all.
It can be as simple as kindness and enjoying life together. It can be overwhelmingly complex.
Love can feel like a glass of cold water in the middle of the desert or a warm blanket and hot chocolate on a stormy evening. It can feel like an endorphin rush or a gentle knowing in the heart.
Throughout history our ideas and expressions of love have shifted, transitioned, and changed.
Ancient Greece, for example, established 3 forms:
- Agape: a sacred love such as that for the divine or of a mother for her child. Love of the soul.
- Eros: a passionate love, admiration of beauty, and sensual desire. Love of the body.
- Philia: a virtuous love or loyalty to family and community. Love of the mind.
What is most interesting to me, however, is how we hold it today.
As young children, we buy into the fairy tale. We’re told that there’s a prince and a princess and all they want is to be together. Then they live happily ever after. However, if you look around now-a-days, you most likely see relationships that are far from that fairy tale we once believed in so deeply. You may find one here and there, but its more rare than finding $100 on the floor.
Throughout time pain often buries in the hearts of lovers and they slowly build up walls of defense. Games that were once playful and flirtatious may change into real stabs at the heart. Pairs that were deeply connected may become numb to each other and distant, at times even enemies.
These dramas of relationships are often rooted in an opportunity to develop communication and compassion. Before the opportunity is realized, it can be a struggle and feel very tough! A wedge of separation is almost inevitable. Many couples never get back to the original pure, gentle love they bonded with. Some stay together for the sake of something or another and live well enough to the end. Others may stand up and say “enough is enough” or simply give up from the overwhelm of pain. The cycles often continue again with a new partner, however the pain has temporarily reset it’s accumulated balance. The patterns continue to collect more pain until they are resolved at the root. How can we expand beyond these roles of our modern day relationships?
When we clear out the emotional baggage of our past, the wounds from growing and life, we expand our capacity and quality of life greatly. As we love, life expands into dynamic layers that add flavor and color our experience.
What is love to you? How do you hold it in your life right now?
Is it something that is purely based in feeling that shifts with your emotions? Is it something you only give to those who have earned it, some kind of reward? Is it a person you hold on to out of fear to comfort you from being alone in the world?
What is your ideal partner composed of? Are these chosen qualities simply for your benefit? Or do you truly care as much to love them for being them?
At it’s greatest, love is nourishing, completing, and the ultimate in life. But why do we seek this feeling of completion in the first place? Are we missing something to begin with? Can we get this missing piece from inside of us? Can we fund this debt of love that we feel through internal sources? Or do we need to get it from something or someone outside?
These questions became alarmingly necessary for me during one of those times I hit the limit on my love “loans”. I awoke one day to realize I had overwithdrawn my available love balance from everyone else. I saw a new angle and understood how much I sought love from my partner and outsourced that as “his department” on some subconscious level. I thought, “I’ll just love him and he’ll love me and it’ all good and fun”. In shifts of our relationship, I saw that there were big pieces missing out of this equation: a deep loving relationship with my self and also with God and spirit. Without these wells of nourishment, my partnership had become a push-and-pull type of relationship, seeking of neediness and comfort. The accumulation of pain became unbearable, we lost sight of who we were, and we gave up.
When my capacity for love felt it’s lowest and had become buried under fear and hate, I didn’t feel like loving ever again. I almost decided to live a numb life at that point - love felt way too tough. I had no desire to deal with the inevitable pain it brought as I learned to grow into it. I suddenly realized how selfish my love was and had always been. I couldn’t love others as much as I wanted to because I needed to increase my entire capacity to love.
During this time, I found the phrase “Aham Prema” in a friend’s book. It was a beautiful book about mantras. Mantras are sacred Sanskrit formulas specifically tuned to activate chakras with great effect. They are mystical ancient resonances that invoke an increase of spiritual energy and abilities. Sanskrit is an energy-based language with great meaning. One of man's most ancient languages known, there are fifty letters in it’s alphabet, each corresponding with a petal of a chakra. Chakras are spinning wheels of energy in the body that look like flowers with petals. When you are healthy, they are vibrant and spin in balance. When you are not well, they become dull and spin at a slower rate.
I didn’t know much about mantras, Sanskrit, or chakras. I had just a faint understanding of what they are. As I visited my friend that day, I felt attracted to her new book and read it a bit. There were several mini-chapters on various topics of truth. Love was deeply on my mind with the pain in my heart, so I was drawn to the mantra about love. Aham Prema is the mantra that means “I AM Divine Love”. I read about it and opened up to it.
After reading the beautiful story and the mantra, I felt my strength re-emerge. I knew I wanted to dig deeper to find the love that was still inside there somewhere. It was an internal shift of nothing more than intention, but at that moment of awareness, it was remarkably powerful. I stood up and made a deeply heart-felt commitment to expand into understanding what love really is. It couldn’t possibly be this selfish form that I saw - everywhere.
In divine timing, it sparked something huge for me. I decided to grow beyond what I could conceive. I wanted to love more then I really knew how. This mantra triggered me to open to the highest form of love I could imagine – and beyond. I began to sing it and focus on it during my toughest times.
I actually became the source of what I had previously always unconsciously sought in others. I didn’t see any live examples or templates of what I wanted to be, so I envisioned and defined what I wanted and opened up to how I could expand into all of that. I created my ideal love, beginning with me. I learned to be the love I longed to feel.
I found that I first had to develop my understanding of love with myself and with God so that I knew how to share it with others I cared for so deeply. I developed my personal relationship with God to be one of my best and it was an amazing development. These tools carried me through beautifully and transformed my life. With the intention and my constant attention (which was naturally available through the pain I was in), I leaped.
It was a tough expedition. There are definite reasons that I was the way I was, and I was very accustomed to those ways. Breaking habits can be very tough.
I continuously expand my love as best I can while enjoying the journey of it and being patient during the stumbles. I am continuously growing and as I do, the more I see I can grow.
"Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love." ~Rumi
The ultimate form of love. Throughout my exploration of love, I uncovered and defined my ultimate idea of love. Here is the compilation so far:
Love is an essence you feel and connect to, a gift from God. It’s one of the greatest gifts of life, yet it can be one of the most challenging to open up to as well.
It is not a feeling or a thought, but a state of being from which feelings and thoughts arise from. It is the very nature of our soul and who we are. It is far beyond ideas, reactions, and opinions. When tuned into it, love radiates and emanates from you unto all you come in contact with. This flow of energy provides an internal state of bliss which is one of the greatest tools of developing a great attitude and fresh approach. It helps to dissolve the painful obstructions we often feel block our paths. It sparks breakthroughs and draws in more than you ever need. It enhances, cherishes, and heals. When we are vibrating with love, we are open to see and experience more fullness of life. We enjoy the infiniteness of our experience.
Love is compassion in action. It is a sincere caring and accepting presence with those you come in contact with. It begins with a love for yourself in which you practice expanding your love. As you master it, your well of love begins to fill with enough to share with others, at no detriment or cost to you. When you reach the times where you need attention, tune in and love yourself – tend to and fill your well.
In loving friendships, we share our experiences and essence. We assist each other in discovering truth, growing, dealing with our feelings and healing them, and developing our specialties. A passion is shared in nurturing those actions that are felt strongest in each friend’s heart. A warmth and service binds these friends in dynamic compassion, exuding sympathy, empathy, wisdom, and gratitude. We care for each other in times of need, in forms as simple as listening. We are unconditionally there when our friends need us most.
I find that when you really come from love, there is no such thing as selfishness. True love is a real caring for another person that has nothing to do with what is better for you or jealousy. It is totally about what is truly best for them. We often can’t reach that place until we’ve given this love to ourselves.
Once we are full of love, then we can really give without any expectation or need at all.
“Only from the heart can you touch the sky.” ~ Rumi
Above All, Love. How can you open more to it in your daily life? It’s a fascinating exploration. We don’t all have to be Mother Mary or Mother Teresa, but we can all love more.
Be aware for the day, all day today about what love is to you.
How much do you love?
How much to you express it to the world?
When you say “I love you” do you long to hear it said back? Is it a genuine expression or a trigger for attention?
Who is the most loving individual in your life? Spend more time with them as a way to remind and refresh yourself on how to embody more love and have fun!