Every year at this time of year, the Western world seems to fall into a sort of socially endorsed madness. We go into a frenzy of shopping to buy Valentine’s Day gifts and cards for that special someone. February 14th is, after all, The Day to express romantic love.
But could love be more than a Valentine’s Day gesture and what does it truly mean to experience love in the here and now?
I was at a talk recently and the teacher described loving kindness (or what I call love) as the act of bringing awareness to the totality of our experience right here and right now. In my experience, this simple awareness is perhaps the most profound expression and experience of love. It is very simple.
How many of us, however, can say that we truly embrace the totality of our self and all others in our life exactly as they are in this very moment? Can we accept our sadness, our anger, or our shame just as we accept our happiness, joy and laughter? Can we accept our quirks and peculiarities? So often these multifaceted feelings are intermingled in our being but we favour the pleasant and avoid the unpleasant. When difficult feelings or unpleasant sensations in the body seek to express themselves, we shut them down, we deny them, distract ourselves and tense our bodies. We move away from our very self! Similarly, when other people are saying or doing things that upset us, we do the same. We distance ourselves. We disconnect.
Imagine what it would be like to actually embrace the fullness of what life offers us: To open to our own complex self with warmth and to embrace love when it is showered upon us from outside. Even unpleasant experiences can become an opportunity to dig deeper and find greater depths of love and compassion. When we accept the fullness of our experience in this moment, we actually become not just a recipient of our own love, but a source, a transmitter, and a receiver all at once! Now love begins to flow to us and from us effortlessly. It is simple. It is abundant. It is overflowing. It has no end and no beginning. Love Is.
Of course love can also be expressed in action in an infinite number of ways. It can be as simple as a smile, or a life sustaining breath. It can be the pure expression of happiness derived from watching the sunset. It can be found in helping hands and in listening ears. It can be found in silent stillness and in boisterous humour. Love is noticing and attending to those around us who are alone, who don’t have enough food, or who are sick. It is greeting a sad person with a smile and a kind word. It is being there for our children and listening to what they have to say. It is knowing when to stay home and rest and when to care for our self. Love is also the willingness to set boundaries and say no when others are acting from a place of ignorance or self absorption and being firm when life calls for firmness. Love can be found in every step we take.
Love is in fact mindfulness. Love is Here. Love is Now. Love Is.
Wishing you all a love-filled minute, hour, day, and year!