What is love? We talk about it and certainly have a general idea about what it is, but how many of us truly contemplate and are able to describe love; and more importantly live love?
We may say, “I love my children and want the best for them”, or “I love my parents”, or “I fell in love with him or her.” But what does this mean and how much of it is mixed in with our own desires and attachments of what we want in relationship to others.
I would like to explore with you what this love is that has been talked about since the beginning of time, and what Jesus said is the essence of the two greatest commandments.
The love that I speak of comes from the spiritual heart. I am not referring to what we would normally think of as falling in love. Falling in love often has to do with a physical and/or an emotional love that involves the bittersweet emotions and actions of passion, jealousy, romance, and attachment. I am not even talking necessarily about interpersonal relationships.
The spiritual teacher Ram Dass in his book, Be Love Now, speaks to what it is not. He writes, “Our culture treats love almost entirely in connection with interpersonal relationships and interactions. Emotional love is based on external gratification, having our love reflected back to us. It’s not grounded in feeling love from inside. That’s why we continue to need more. When we love somebody emotionally, that need for feedback creates a powerful attachment. We get so caught up in the relationship that we rarely arrive at the essence of just dwelling in love.”
The love that I am referring to expands beyond all this and comes primarily from the soul level. It is a love that tunes into the flow of life and connects us to all that is. It is a state of being beyond the mind that permeates everything around us and connects us to the Divine.
In last month's blog, I listed some of the components of love. I would like to expand on what I see as the most important of these. These components are woven into the very fabric of love. However, words can only go so far in describing the intricacies of love. Love is subtler than words can ever describe!
Essential components of love:
Will and Discipline ~ We have been given a free will so that we can choose to love which makes it so much more valuable. Though love is an innate quality within us it takes willingness and discipline to work our way through the muck of our prejudices, our beliefs, our projections, and our limited way of looking at life so that we can remove the obstacles and realize the love we are.
Letting Go ~ There is a saying in AA, “Let Go, Let God.” Letting go of all that keeps us separate from the Divine, and trusting that whatever happens in life is happening to help us further our connection with the Divine.
Grace ~ Through grace we are given the opportunity to choose love. It’s like the sun shining down on all. Sometimes there are clouds in the way so that we are unable to see the light. Trust that, like the sun, the grace is there for us; we just need to do our part and open to that grace. Prayer, meditation and other spiritual practices can help us access that grace.
Forgiveness ~ “During our lifetime we are going to feel devalued, misunderstood, abused, and hurt by others. Forgiveness does not mean condoning what the person did. Forgiveness allows us to release the pain and move forward with love to live a more healthy and meaningful life. … We not only need to get to the point of forgiving the abuser but also forgiving ourselves.” *
Humility ~ Unpretentiousness! Arrogance and pride are the opposite of humility and keeps us from the love we so greatly desire. Humility has to do with the truth of what is. By realizing and acknowledging our God-given talents, as well as our mistakes, we can more readily see ourselves as we truly are, and our place in the general scheme of life.
Kindness ~ “When a person is kind they are caring, empathetic, compassionate, gentle, thoughtful and considerate. They are more authentic in their approach. To be kind takes clearing the mind of all negativity about another and coming from the heart. Kindness has to do with staying present when we are talking with others, and really listening to what they have to say.” *
Listening ~ This requires putting ones desires, beliefs, opinions, prejudices, and preconceived notions aside and really hearing what is being said from the other persons perspective. It is also important to listen to our deeper self - our intuition.
Integrity ~ The quality of consistently being honest, having strong moral values. It is also about being authentic and trustworthy.
Self-love ~ Recognizing our value and our natural abilities, and not letting others define us. Realizing that love is available to us in every moment because we are love. We know that we will make mistakes and we accept responsibility for them. We make every effort to be the best version of ourselves.
Selfless service ~ Helping others in need without expecting something in return, and without ignoring our own needs. Also, by adopting a non-judgmental attitude and realizing that we are all a part of the human predicament. Eventually, as we grow in love, selfless service becomes simply an expansion of our love.
Conscious Awareness ~ Love brings us more into the present moment. We become more acutely aware of both our inner and outer environment. By being mindful of such emotions as anger, jealousy, envy, or fear we can recognize them in our body by feeling the sensations that arise and then releasing these painful emotions rather than ruminating about them or repressing them. As a result we feel more alive and experience more of the love that we are.
Gratitude ~ “There is absolutely nothing that we have that isn’t a gift from the Divine, even the difficulties in life. …Seeing the light and love in life and being thankful is the key to a peaceful and joyful life.”*
Peace ~ Freedom from disturbance, quiet and tranquil, serenity, mental quiet. Peace gives us the ability to listen to what the Bible calls “the still small voice within.”
Joy ~ Holding life lightly. Recognizing and opening to the incredible wonders of life we experience the joy. Fear is the primary emotion that keeps us from our deeper joy. When we can stay in the moment fear dissipates, and we can then appreciate what is and trust in the Divine flow of life.
These are the essential components of love that resonate with me. Each day I have been focusing on one of these. Perhaps you can come up with your own list of components or qualities of love, and practice love each day until uncovering the love that you are.
In fact, I would like to challenge all of us to make a New Years resolution to continuously be present and love God, ourselves, and each other every moment of every day with our whole heart, mind and soul. Too much to ask? Okay! How about making progress each day.
Matthew Kelly in his book, Perfectly Yourself, writes; …failure is a part of all great achievement and discovery. … We must never allow our spirit to be stifled by failure. Failure is a part of progress, not a final outcome.”
Lets all tune into the flow of love that connects us all and make this the best year ever.
Love and Peace,
* Taken from the blog The Forgiveness Factor 3/12/17
* Taken from the blog Being Nice vs. Being Kind 9/12/16
* Taken from the blog, Having the Attitude of Gratitude this Thanksgiving 11/12/16
Mary Mohs LVN, MA, RYT,