In honor of Valentine’s Day I have decided to focus on ways to feel love. What is “love”? How does one receive love? How does one give it? Typically when we speak about love we are referring to “romantic” love, which is an important driving quest in Western society. Since there are enough books and articles written about “romantic” love I am going to focus on “agape” love instead. Agape love pronounced “ah-GAH’-pay” is a Greek word that describes “selfless love for a person by another. It tends to be spiritual in nature and without sexual implications… permitting another determination of one’s own fate or course of action without compulsion”. (wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn). In the February tip, I want to share with you ideas on how to express love because you deserve to be loved and you are entitled to experience love in your life.
Love of Self:
In order to feel love for others you need to show love to yourself. Initially, this might sound self absorbed and selfish. It really is not. If you do not take care of yourself, how will you have the energy and resources that are necessary in order to be of service to others? When you attend to your joy first, you will discover that you have a surplus of resources which will result in a natural overflow of agape love to others.
In order to develop self love, the first step I would encourage you to take is to live a healthy lifestyle. Begin to take care of your body and become more conscious of what you eat and drink and the amount of rest you receive. Perform some form of regular movement or exercise to strengthen your body. Feed your spirit and consecrate time for activities that bring you joy; commit to setting aside some time for hobbies or friends that you make you happy (“A” level people). For additional ideas, read the Oct 08 tip.
Examine your life to see if you are living a life of honor. Without getting scrupulous, take some time to review your life. Are there any corners that you are cutting? Is there any behavior that you would be embarrassed to have people discover? If so, make the decision to clean up your act to live a life of honor. In my CD, Journey Back to Self, I talk about the importance of living a life of integrity because when you plot to cheat others or cut corners you waste unnecessary energy. A second reason to live a life of honor is because when you practice unethical behavior or deceit, you create blockages to the Universal love that is filtering through you. This blockage will prevent you from allowing grace, love and positive energy to flow through you.
Finally regularly monitor your level of emotional energy and keep your “pitcher” full. Remember to increase your emotional energy through positive practices, such as prayer or meditation. Since all love is rooted in God connecting with Universal love is an effortless way to begin to increase self love. For more ideas, read the April, May or June tips and discover additional ways to increase your inner love and joy. Also remember to protect your emotional energy from “C” level people; those individuals who drain and deplete you. For suggestions on how to do this, read the Jan 08 tip.
Love of Others:
Once you have begun to treat yourself with love, you will notice that you are happier and feel more loving which results in a desire to share Agape love with others. I must warn you that since you are human, you will not always experience unconditional or agape love. Sometimes you will find that you have slipped back into negative judgment or irritation. Welcome to the human race!
When this occurs, you need to be gentle with yourself, take a step back and figure out what happened. Often the challenge in a relationship is that it is not black or white. It is possible, in fact common, to genuinely care for someone and simultaneously wish to change them or resent them. Swami Kripalu, a yoga master, stated that since love is the only path that can bring unity and remove separation you will want to learn to keep the door of your heart open. Two ways to develop an attitude of “loving acceptance” toward others are by practicing patience and surrender.
In order to cultivate an attitude of patience, you need to discover the origin of your impatience. Sometimes the swing from patience to impatience is caused by an issue of time; when you feel over scheduled or pressed for time, it is more difficult to stop and be present to another. Impatience might be caused by your judgment of another because the person does not fit the role that you think is appropriate or is not doing what you think needs to be done. Finally, your impatience might be a result of your inability to “fix” a loved one or their situation. In this case, you want to develop an attitude of surrender.
When there is nothing more that you can do or the person is unwilling to accept your assistance, you need to be willing to let go and accept the person or situation as it exists in this moment. “Let go and Let God” (AA) In the book The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren explains that in western society people view the term “surrender” as defeat. They have difficulty admitting that they are not in charge of everything and thus they continue to manipulate and give orders; they interfere with God’s work. The Swami suggests that by surrendering your notion of what a person or situation needs, you step back, release your own agenda and give grace free reign to guide and heal in the most appropriate way. Most of us have been raised to be action oriented, therefore, surrender is no easy task, yet it may be the wisest and most courageous path to take. In steeping back and allowing another to self determine it helps you to love unconditionally and allows grace to work.
This month I invite you to allow your love to grow into Agape love and invite you to commit to the following affirmation:
“My love is fluid, flexible and committed allowing people and events to unfold as they need. My love is not controlling. It does not dictate or demand. My love allows those I love the freedom to assume the forms most true to them as I release all those I love from my preconceptions of their path”. (Paraphrased from Julia Cameron’s book, Heart Steps Pg 11).
Reflection Question or Blog Comment”
- What is one loving act that you can incorporate into your life this month?
- In order to have more time people that you love, name one thing that you can do less or eliminate from your life.
“It’s not what you do, but how much love you put into it that matters” Mother Teresa