Rumi, the 13th-Century Persian poet and Sufi mystic said,
"Your task is not to seek for love but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."
We're a culture that's damn confused about love. Partially because actually choosing love is a rigorous spiritual discipline. If it were simple, it wouldn't hold the transformative power that deep, spiritual practice promises.
We get in our own way. We forget. And, as Rumi suggests, we go searching outside ourselves when the real work is inside our own hearts.
We need the kind of reminders we'll need to be reminded of over and over again.
1. Love doesn't condemn your partner for the things they do that you dislike. Yeah, ok, when they interrupt you it drives you gonzo, and you certainly could choose to withhold love or punish them because of it. But don't. Instead, have patience and make kind requests.
2. Love doesn't refuse to listen because you don't agree or believe that someone else's perspective will threaten your own. Slow down, breathe, and listen. Yes, even though it's hard. Truly listening is one of the easiest ways to disarm an argument. See if you can listen so deeply that you can even get to the point where you could advocate for a position that opposes your own.
3. Love doesn't ask us to take care of ourselves at the expense of anyone else. It's not love if it's exclusive. Next time you're out to "get yours," consider whether you getting yours has to mean that someone else doesn't get theirs.
4. If we truly intend to "choose love," then we must look at where we hate. Even if we think we have a good reason (ahem, political candidates). Not because pretending to love when we don't is "spiritual," but because where we hate will show us where we put walls around our own hearts. Walls that hurt us.
5. Many people think they're "focusing on love" when they tune out the atrocities in the world because they "just can't deal." Is it really loving to watch torture or oppression happen right in front of you and walk away? Love means we have to look at difficult shit and feel it. Because when we truly feel, we ignite our heart. This is where activism and change comes from. Nothing changes if we stay numb.
6. Practicing love means that we adjust our tone and our words to include the other person's humanity. They too have tender hearts, have made mistakes, and deserve kindness, even if they don't seem like it.
7. Love means we apologize where necessary.
8. In order to love another person, we have to dig deep within ourselves past the layers of bitterness, spite, armoring, hurt, and judgement. This is how we grow. It's how we heal. Don't work to be loving because that's what you're supposed to do. Do it because it'll feed your hunger for something real, deep, and nourishing.
9. Love asks you to be completely honest with yourself about where you disown parts of yourself. What feelings do you not allow yourself to feel fully? Love is big enough to include all of you, like a compassionate mama who invites you into her lap and lets you feel it all until you're done.
10. In order to love, we must connect with our hearts...our physical, beating organ. Take a breath. Feel your heart. Let your heart take the lead and picture your mind bowing and saying, "Yes m'am, I can make that happen for you."
11. It's part of love's job to break us open, invite us to breathe, and break through the old conditioning into new ways of being and loving. So, it might hurt.
12. Love is messy. It's not about getting it right. It just wants us to feel our heart. It might be non-linear and it might call you to do something outside the status quo. Do you really want to say no to that?
13. Love isn't just a feeling in our hearts but something you can feel through your whole body. Loosen your grip. Soften your heart, brain, and spine. Let it move through you.
14. Love helps us remember that we don't know everything. And sometimes, that we don't know anything.
15. Setting boundaries has nothing to do with withholding love. You can set boundaries and still keep your heart open.
16. Oh yeah, and love gives. It's generous. Instead of being preoccupied with how someone else could love you better, find that generosity of heart and offer it out. Give love.
Comment below and let me know which of these you most needed to hear today and what you're doing to re-align with love.
And of course, if you wanna see more love in the world, share this on social media!