Let’s Talk about Love
I’m convinced that we could spend our lifetimes exploring the power and practice of love.
As you read this, you may be glancing at a picture of a loved one you’ve lost, seeing the smiling faces of children as you wait in the after school pick up line, or hearing your partner gently snoring the night away. Each of these experiences is an opportunity to be in love. Some opportunities with ease and grace.
Other situations, like being cut off on the drive home, walking into your teenager’s trashed room, or reading unkind comments left on your recent blog post, are also opportunities to be in love. Some opportunities are more uncomfortable, easier to resist, and yes, require more effort.
To me, being in love means, actively loving, intentionally choosing to receive love, and believing in the power and process of love. This is a choice that I can make in any situation, no matter how easy or challenging I perceive the opportunity to be.
Notice what ideas come to your mind. What does being in love mean to you?
Today we will explore a practice and a mindset for stepping into love.
It All Starts with Ourselves
The examples and scenes I captured above, the spectrum of feelings they elicit are the same spectrum of sensations we carry towards ourselves. Pause. You may want to reread that.
Today, I invite you to sit quietly, in reflection for a few moments and catalog all of the loving, kind, generous thoughts you’ve given YOU today.
Next, consider all of the yuckier, muckier, critical, undesirable thoughts you’ve thought about yourself today. Do you best not to add a second layer of judgment on top of these thoughts, finding yourself disappointed in the tendency towards negative self-talk. You are human, and this is a process. The goal here is to establish awareness.
We can get in touch with love on a very deep level when we view all of our inner chatter as yet another powerful opportunity to love. When we can meet each sensation, each train of thought with acceptance and compassion (to the best of our ability), we can fall more deeply in love with ourselves and with this human experience.
The Path to Being in Love
One of my greatest tools for meeting the range of experiences on this journey with an open heart is loving-kindness practice. This is also known as metta meditation, and there are many ways to explore this work. The core elements of loving-kindness practices are affirmative phrases that intend and invoke love, happiness, safety, and ease for oneself and for others.
This practice can be done in seated meditation or used as we find ourselves melting into our keyboards at work, stuck in traffic, or zoning out at the kids’ soccer games. First, begin with yourself. Begin by saying or thinking phrases like “May I be peaceful,” “May I be filled with happiness and joy,” and “May I be free from harm and suffering.” Through these affirmations, it can be helpful to focus on your breath, to notice where and how you are in the given moment. Stay here, with yourself, as long as you need.
After you send yourself love, and depending on your capacity and energy in the moment, you can begin to extend this love outwards. Next, you may send loving kindness to friends, family, and loved ones. The phrases can be the same or similar to the ones you used in blessing yourself with love. Then, you can extend love to those in your communities and neighborhoods, country, continent, and the world. This includes people you love with ease, as well as people or groups you feel more neutral towards. You can include plants and animals, too!
Finally, and again, only if you have the mental, emotional, and spirital space in a given day, you can widen your circle, sending loving kindness towards people who you disagree with or may consider “enemies” or find yourself having a harder time loving.
The Process of the Practice
Whether your unique loving-kindness practice focuses only on yourself or expands to people you are in conflict with, I invite you to notice the thoughts you had both before and after the practice. Observe any changes in your body and spirit too.
This practice can be a slow process, and we will find that growing in love with every aspect of ourselves or others is a constant and neverending process. This is okay and normal for us to have a greater capacity or connection some days, just as it is to feel challenged on other days. We create muscle memory and orient ourselves towards love every time we practice; thus, we can only ever move forward.
As you go deeper into this practice and explore how it can support your work as a mother, caregiver, friend, sister, etc., you may find yourself needing to reach out and connect. I recommend starting by naming you your support system. This is a simple, yet powerful tool.
P.S. This practice is hugely valuable for the teens and young adults in your life; they are in the midst of intense identity formation and benefit from developing self-kindness. Book a 30-minute Discovery Call to learn more about how coaching can support your entire family.