There was once a time where I was love. Like in a way where the light must have been beaming from my core, because every person I looked at was illuminated. For how long it lasted, I can’t be sure. But there was a time. Every person in my eyes was special, interesting and I could feel my heart surrounding them, coddling them like a new-born baby.
It was some time in my early twenties when I went through this phase. I knew I loved everyone back then and the thought stuck with me, even when it began to fade, even when it was no longer true. …at least not true to my conscious awareness. I could still hear it replaying in my mind as I strove to BE love, yet as time passed my capacity to love began to falter.
Through the years I suppose my heart was damaged. I gave it to the wrong people, those who were not competent enough in the languages of love, who were mean for the sake of fitting in or who were so damaged themselves they didn’t know any better. It’s a pity we can’t always feel the scars we leave on others; if we felt them just as vividly perhaps we’d handle them with greater care. But alas, there’s nothing easy about staying aware enough to know how we’re impacting others all the time. Even in the pursuits of being a loving person, with our busy lives it can be hard to keep up on.
For myself, working to be a loving person became less a priority as the years went on, as it became hard enough to simply get by. Work, graduation, developing myself professionally and trying to pay the bills took over instead. Who can concentrate on universal love when you’re maximally stressed? How can you love your neighbor when they’re making you late for your next appointment? And while I still managed to love those closest to me, mostly, those less connected to me became harder to feel love for. It became easier, in some ways, to point out faults rather than what made those people great.
It seems like now in days people piss me off all the time. As someone who has spent the last decade working to become more attuned to the way all of my actions affect myself, those around me and the environment, I sometimes lose my cool that the greater population is still moving at a snail’s pace. And yet, the general masses inability to think critically about how their actions impact the different facets of life is a way of thinking and being I was submerged in growing up. It is a whirlwind of programming that to this day I still try to fight off.
So that’s what it comes down to; my quick judgments and failure to love other people for these things is just a mirror. A mirror to who I’ve been. A mirror to what I’m trying to run away from. In failing to love others who fall into these categories, I’m loosing out on loving an aspect of myself that probably still needs healing.
My greatest teacher in love is without a doubt my boyfriend. As I was contemplating love in all of its form today, I started to think about I Corinthians 13:4. Reciting it in my head, I began to realize that Nick is all of these things. He is totally, absolutely love incarnate. Through everything, he has always embodied the characteristics of love. When I’m mad, or judgmental towards others, he always has wise words and he’s always patient with me as I work through my lessons. There’s no one I’ve ever met who has pushed me to be a better person like he does. And there’s no one I’ve ever loved more than him. I’m extremely grateful that I have him by my side.
Our capacity for learning greater love can come from people, but alone we also have some tools to help us in the expansion of our heart spaces. While in India I first came across the loving-kindness meditation and since then I’ve run into it many times. It’s a beautiful exercise of practicing our ability to be love through radiating love to ourselves, those closest to us, to all we know, those we perhaps aren’t quite as in favor of, and eventually all sentient beings. Not only does this meditation lead to a greater ability to love, but it also reduces anxiety and has a positive effect on the inflammatory and neuroendocrine systems. Pretty cool, ay? To learn more about these benefits of this meditation, check out Loving-Kindness Meditation and Change. For details on practicing the loving-kindness meditation, visit the center for Contemplative Mind in Society.
There are other ways we can work to open our hearts. While some use meditation and visualization, others use prayer and reading certain books to increase positivity. This week, as I dealt with a heavy heart, my sister Mariah offered me some herbs to try to elevate the weight I was feeling. Mariah works over at The Herb Shoppe on Mississippi Ave and has hella knowledge on the plant kingdom and how we can work with these elements to invoke healing. After talking about what I was experiencing, she sent me away with rose petals, rhodiola, shatauari and hawthorne leaf to use in a tea. If you’re in need of some healing or advice in these matters, go check her out. She does massage and is incredibly magical.
While I don’t have all the answers, I’m working on it. And though my heart still feels heavy at times, there are those moments where love seizes me and I can feel my whole being emanate it, even for just a short period of time…It’s the keeping it there that I struggle with. The practice of BEING love is a life long process, but for some, like my boyfriend and maybe someone like the Dalai Lama, there is evidence that exuberating love full-time is possible. It’s something we should all strive for.