I wanted to do this last blog for 2014 on the topic of love. Needless to say this is a topic that has been written about, sung and spoken of by many wise people, so the question is, what calls me to add my two-bits worth?
Having thought about this for quite awhile, I realized my desire to focus on this is due to of the shift I struggle with, and which I believe our world is struggling with, too.
I grew up believing in what the Course In Miracles calls “special love.” I wanted to be loved by a special someone, and felt very blessed when this happened for me. As I matured, I embraced the concept of “soul mate,” which is an even more defined “special love.” I’m sure many people can relate to this. I had no idea that this perspective of being loved by special people, including family and friends, was supporting a deeply ingrained, unexamined perspective of love. It seemed sensible, normal, and appropriate to love some people and not others. In fact, my ego regularly noticed all the “data” that supported who was… and who wasn’t loveable. Talk about discrimination!
I know this is a strong word and, perhaps for some, offensive, but let me share what I realized as I looked more deeply into this way of thinking about love.
My pattern of discrimination was based on what I perceived, saw, heard, and even smelled. How could I ignore this “data?” Well the answer isn’t in trying to not see or ignore what I am perceiving. The answer lies in perceiving, not with my senses, but with my heart, which it seems is a very radical idea. Perceiving through my mind, and its filters and judgments keeps me in a pattern of judgement that holds no peace.
So what’s the alternative? I believe the alternative is to experience life from your heart. What does this mean? How does it feel, and is it really viable in real life (and not just a great concept)?
Life lived from the heart has little to do with right and wrong, or “knowing the answer.” In fact, the child-like openness which is so attractive, comes from a place of not knowing… a place of open curiosity. Am I willing to actually let go of my investment in “knowing” and switch to a place of not knowing/curiosity? Byron Katie in her ground breaking book, Loving What Is, focuses on reexamining what we think is true. At deeper and deeper levels her process of inquiry asks you to explore whether or not something is true. The gift in doing this is that it offers the freedom of realizing most of what we believe, traps us as opposed to setting us free.
Take a moment right now, to think of a time when you were in your heart, feeling and experiencing life from that place. The easiest experiences to think of are often ones that stand out – the birth of a child, a moment in nature, falling in love, or maybe a beautiful piece of music. Now step in and be in that experience – what do you notice?
I notice how expanded I feel, how generous and trusting I am. It’s quite euphoric and non-specific. By non-specific I mean I am not aware of judging, or picking, or choosing what is good or bad, right or wrong. Instead, life in general feels great. This is the heart in it’s expanded capacity. This is what we are designed to experience, in contrast to when we contract our heart, shut ourselves down or go into protection mode. I am not making it wrong to close down, but, rather, I am saying this is not how we are intended to live. When we close down we are hurting ourselves, because we are less alive.
Making the shift from being “mind driven” to “heart focused” is not an easy shift to make, at least I haven’t found it to be. Yet, every time I come back to my heart and I feel it swell with love, excitement, joy and even pride, it’s a wonderful thing and I’m reminded that this is what being human is all about. This is what my heart and spirit craves, and is what moves our evolution forward. As a species, we need to evolve and find new ways to be in the world that creates possibilities for all. There is a great future out there for us if we can step in and claim it.
I recently listened to Oprah interview Timothy Shriver, head of the Special Olympics, which his mother, Eunice Shriver, founded. Timothy has written the book Fully Alive: Discovering What Really Matters, and in it he shares some profound discoveries, many of which have come from people with physical and intellectual challenges.
What’s interesting is when some aspect such as intellectual development is limited, other aspects seem to shine – like the capacity for love. Timothy spoke eloquently about the openheartedness in “Special Olympians,” and the importance of being brave – doing your very best despite the odds of winning or losing. He spoke the words, “let me be brave” almost as a personal prayer and call to action. Those words rang deeply within me, and so I am embracing them and asking: Can we be brave enough to challenge how we have learned to love, and open our hearts to loving as a way of being?
In this Christmas season may you seize as many small moments as you possibly can to be in your heart. May you feel your heart expand with laughter, love and joy, and keep in mind these words… “One key to knowing joy is being easily pleased.” (Source unknown – if you should happen to know the origin of this phrase, please let me know)
I hope you honor this year with all the love and respect it deserves, as a year well lived and welcome in the New Year with a big open heart!
With love and gratitude… I look forward to connecting with you in the New Year!