Love as a Lifestyle
"We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men and women; and among those fibers,
as sympathetic threads,
our actions run as causes,
and they come back
to us as effects."
Once in a while I meet a very luminous elderly client in the art studio who glows from the inside - whose eyes are clear and bright, who sits solidly in his or her soul with a peaceful countenance. When I encounter such love, I am always immediately curious about how they have lived their life.
I met such a man a couple of years ago on his 87th birthday. He told me when he turned 40 he decided to dedicate his life to loving. When I asked him to describe his life philosophy, he sounded like a wise sage that was tapped into the Universal wisdom. He said:
"We are only human and everyone has certain weakness in their character. Some people do not get the basic thought pattern of love and are not ready to live the truth of love in their lives. At any cost we should forgive others. This is the workings of the universe. We are meant to play our part in making love stronger in the world.
Love is a quality few people will turn down when they are offered it. There is a thought pattern to loving and caring about others that puts us into the right frame of mind. We build inward strength by loving others."
Just as we were finishing our conversation he softly said. "It should be said that many have a hard time being loving all of the time because they feel so hurt. You have to learn love through the hurt." This felt profound to me and taught me that it is possible to approach our relationships without expectations or goals of any kind.
Most of us have hearts that open and close depending on how we are treated, how we feel about ourselves, and how our life experiences are going at the moment. Loving on a continual basis takes a deep commitment to honestly and continually look within to see what is blocking our fullest expression of love.
Often our beliefs about love are still based in the past and are about how we experienced love as children. This closes down enormous areas of relating to the world. We may not realize that as a mature adult, it is possible to stand open and loving even when others are attacking us. We can get to the point where we no longer have to avoid getting hurt because we have done our inner work and we know that we are not guilty or bad.
When we are secure in our loving, we have forgiven ourselves for all the times when we did not bring our higher self to our life circumstances. We metaphorically have gone back and imagined our highest self handling all of our difficult life situations. We have claimed the gifts we could have brought to the past, and we live those soul gifts in our present day life.
When we are rooted in our loving, we have forgiven ourselves for all our mistaken choices and made inner amends. We know that we can take care of ourselves even when someone is attacking us emotionally. We know we will not crumble with hurt. We spend all our days loving more, not less.
The Parts of Self That Block Love
Whatever beliefs we have in our psyches that block loving will come up to be looked at when we dedicate ourselves to move closer to unconditional love and more connected relationships. My experience is that if I keep my heart open for an extended period of time, often a layer of hurt or heartbreak from the past will come up to be cleansed.
The parts of ourselves that do not believe in love form an entire constellation of behaviors that run under our conscious understanding. Psychologists Hal and Sidra Stone put it this way:
"It is important to learn about how sub-personalities operate within us. Without this understanding, we are in the powerless position of watching different sub-personalities drive our psychological car while we sit in the back seat or, worse yet, hide in the trunk. It becomes a matter of great importance to discover what these selves are and how they operate within us. This journey of discovery is the evolution of consciousness.
It may seem strange to think of our car being driven by different selves, each demanding its turn, yet this is exactly the situation. We have usually been so conditioned by the time we reach adulthood and generally long before, we have lost connection to our true being. We no longer know who we are or what we feel."
We have to be willing to feel hurt as we open up to love, as our hearts will release its deep storage of accumulated heartbreaks. Ultimately the goal is to bring every part of ourselves into alignment with love. This takes a kind of constant and daily intention that deepens as we discover the many parts of ourselves that run counter to our desire to love.
So, as we learn how to love, we need to approach love in two ways. We have to be willing to dedicate our lives to love, and we must be willing to feel the pain and rejection of past love lost and love disappointed.
I offer you this meditation on Love from spiritual teacher Aster Barnwell:
Love the Ultimate Spiritual Practice
"I am often asked what daily spiritual practice I engage in. My answer to this question is that I practice LOVE. In the sense that I use it, Love is equanimity. It is a steadiness of purpose, openness to what life has to offer, sensitivity to the presence and needs of others, effort with patience, and the willingness to make sacrifices. In this sense, it is the ultimate spiritual technique.
To attune oneself to Love is to attune oneself to God, to the energy that holds the Universe together. This is why Love is the ultimate technique; if we attune ourselves to love in this physical dimension, we become attuned to Love everywhere that Love is observed. That way we use Love as a "carrier wave" to expand our consciousness. We cease to feel separate, cease to feel insignificant, cease to feel disinherited and disenfranchised."
Excerpted from the Journal Writing E-Course 30 Days of Passion and Purpose