Choosing Love, Part One

Before I launch into the concept for this week, I would like to say that I think it is not possible to define the word "love" in a way that satisfies me.  I think love must be experienced to be fully understood.  And in the search for love, so often we confuse other things for love.  But for the purposes of this blog post, I am striving for the purist form of love.  It isn't lust or attraction.  It isn't romance or affection.  It is love in its simplest and purest form.  Perhaps you love a child or parent or pet or partner or friend.  If you do, look carefully at that emotion and see if you can strip away anything that isn't love, for the moment, just to conceptualize love.  It is an action within your heart, soul and mind.  It has no agenda.  It does not need to be returned or even known by others.  It is, I would argue, a conscious choice.  We can love a stranger.  We can love an enemy.  We can love someone who has hurt us. Our experiences of love in our lives can lead to confusion and even desperation.  So often love (or something disguised as love) is offered to us, with conditions or complications or even....consequences.  I believe we have a need for love, that if not met properly, can lead us on a quest to be loved and if something kinda looks like or feels like love, even if for just 5 minutes, we take it!   But in our quest, we don't realize or understand that love is a force or an energy that we can access within ourselves.  We can love others and it can change things.  It can heal things.  It can change and heal others.  It can change and heal ourselves. Grasping this can be a bugger.  Because we think the answers and the healing are outside of us.  But, they aren't.  That love that you didn't receive can be accessed within you and offered to others.  This is a practice.  If you want to meditate or journal more, you set your intention each day and put it into practice.  The more you practice, the better you get.  The better you get, the more you understand about love.  Keep in mind that if there are conditions (if you have your own agenda) when you love someone else, it isn't pure love. So if you want to practice love, set the intention RIGHT NOW to love someone.  Who could it be?  Maybe it is someone who seems in a hurry at the coffee shop.  Maybe it is someone at work who is always quiet.  Maybe it is your child's teacher who sends home too much homework.  Maybe it is the little girl next door playing in the backyard.  Maybe it is your aging father.  All of these people need love.  Some may not be getting love from anyone.  But I know they need love because they are human and we all need love.  Once you set the intention and choose the recipient, all that is needed next is to LOVE.  This does not require you to speak to them, touch them, or even see them.   Just send them love within your mind.  Quieting your mind might be helpful.  Anything beyond this isn't necessary, although it might be kind to let the person at the coffee shop to go ahead of you in line...or writing an appreciative email  to your child's teacher...or inviting your quiet co-worker to lunch.  These acts of kindness are not requirements of love; they just sometimes flow out of love.  And if you aren't practiced in loving others, they could confuse you and complicate your practice. So, as you begin this practice, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I have the intention to love?  This one seems obvious enough but check to make sure you aren't trying to do anything other than love.  Although love can change others, we sometimes want to choose what that looks like.  
  • Who needs love?  The answer is everyone....but do you believe it?
  • Who is easy to love?
  • Who is difficult to love?
  • What do I feel when I send love to someone?
  • What do I need when I send love to someone?
  • Is my mind quiet?  Or is there lots of chatter going on?
  • Who do I already love?  And what does that look like?  Do I put conditions on that love?
  • Who has ever loved me purely?  How do I feel about them?

This is a concept worth talking about more next week.  I welcome thoughts from you.  There are incredible resources out there about this. Do you know of any books or websites about this concept that you would recommend?   The poster pictured above was inspired by a blog post I read over here.  I can't find that blog post anymore, but she does have this additional resource.