“Anyone who loves must learn to lose themselves and then find themselves again.” - Paulo Coelho
Arguably the most compelling subject of human life is the subject of love. The word alone is evasive, hard to define, interpreted best through personal experience. It is the fancy of our art, our drama, our entertainment, our philosophy, and our religion. Its essence has eluded the most illuminated of thinkers—save perhaps the Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, Rumi and a few select others—limited company indeed.
It invites us to the secluded corners of coffee shops and dimly lit restaurants where we can muse over its complexity with a journal or a close friend. It comes and it goes. It fills our heart and empties it. It satiates our hunger and begets it. And yet, the question persists...
How Do We LOVE?
It is seductive to project love onto another. “I love YOU” becomes our life mission; finding another for whom our love can reveal itself. The love of our friendships, our marriages, our parenting is a spectacular love—in equal parts vulnerability and joy. On its own, however, it is incomplete.
The opening Paulo Coelho quote offers sound advice in this regard. The accessibility to love is ultimately a personal revelation. (I nearly used the word “quest” here then thought better of it—love doesn’t require our seeking; as it is a complete state of being which already exists fully in each of us—and need only be revealed.)
Personal, as in, it’s all about you. The degree to which love will reveal itself to you is a direct correlation to the degree in which you can love yourself. Despite the divine connection with our children or our soul mates, those relationships only reflect the capacity for our own self-love.
Even as I write these words part of me is in disbelief. How can that be? We are taught (conditioned) in so many ways to place ourselves second—to put another first. Right? Wrong.
The Complexity of Love
The complexity of love often resides in the illusory nature of love itself. What we often cite as “love” can actually be a masqueraded fear. When we have a less-than-loving relationship with ourselves, this “shines through” in our interpersonal relationships. This fear-love confusion infects our relationships, often resulting in the demise of the relationship—or just a really unhealthy, and unfulfilling relationship.
It is through, and only through, a deepening of self-awareness that we may access the greatest depths of love. This is the point in which your yoga practice, your meditation practice, your deep personal inquiry, comes into the picture. Our capacity to love flows out of our awareness and acceptance of ourselves.
I only speak here from experience. When I am in harmony with myself (when I touch the essence of love), I am capable of vast stores of “loving energy”, when I am not: I am not. Until we cultivate a deep, authentic sense of self, we will exist in a state of incompleteness, and “our love” will exist similarly—a shell of its true nature.
I see love as a sort-of patient (and persistent) door-to-door salesman. She will keep knocking on our door, reminding us she is there, while waiting for us to open up and let her in. Once in, there is only one sufficient response: YES.
Say yes to yourself. It is the door to our love.