Love comes in many forms; the love between a parent and a child, between siblings, the love you have for your pet or for an object, or even the love you share with your significant other. Humans create love. We create love out of strong, personal bonds to reassure ourselves that we aren’t alone in this world. Love provides us with a feeling of well-being, contentment, security, and support. But in today’s world, more and more people are obtaining a jaded perspective towards love, having been disappointed, rejected, betrayed, hurt, and ending up bitter or cynical. What we fail to realize is that love isn’t infatuation but a foundation of spirituality. It isn’t controlling or abusive. It isn’t based on physical or material attributes.
So, then, what is love?
For most humans, love has come to mean physical and emotional intimacy, a deep connection that rivals all else. From the moment we are born, we are told that we are loved, by our parents, our family, our siblings, the friends we make, the relationships we foster. We accept what is given to us and learn what its true meaning is from our family. As we grow older, our perspective is shaped by social constructs and romantic partnerships. So, it’s not completely surprising when people equate love to desire, infatuation, a sense of social duty, expectation, even pain. But we don’t realize that love can only be true and lasting if it’s based on truth.
True love is unconditional, it is beautifully deep, it is vulnerable and honest. The feelings that arise when we’re in love and the sensations that come along are only substitutions for the real thing. You can’t feel true love unless you let go of your ego, your expectations, and what you feel others want from you. Love allows us to act from a place of wholeness instead of pain or desire. It’s not conditional on need, desire or connection but simply is. That is the reason it is the foundation of spirituality.
What does spiritual love feel like?
The first truth of life we need to be aware of is that we’re souls, not bodies. Every soul has a natural set of attributes – peace, purity, love, joy, and truth. To realize what makes us most fully human, we need to cultivate an awareness of the richness and depth of the emotional responses that connect us to the natural world. All human souls are connected by virtue of being a part of the Supreme Soul. Being aware of our spiritual, real self brings out the goodness of the soul. It also opens our eyes and heart to the true identity and intrinsic goodness of others. This spirituality is a way of seeing the goodness in others helps us detangle ourselves from the vices of desire, expectation, and ego. It fosters self-esteem and helps us develop mutual love and respect in relationships. When souls see and feel this love, when they feel free of judgment, rejection, and betrayal in a relationship, they feel confident to connect deeply.
But spiritual love isn’t always pleasurable, warm and peaceful. Spiritual love is deep rooted, it fosters forgiveness, loyalty and obligation, it fosters conscious commitment of being connected to another soul. This connection can be felt with anyone you meet, regardless of sexuality, if you’re willing to put effort and focus. In spirituality, love can be felt in at least three varied ways, our experiences and understanding differ depending on our train of thought. Let’s understand these three aspects of love first.
1. Absolute Love or the Great Love
Absolute Love depicts love as the source of everything. It isn’t something that we have to or we can create. It is what comes through us naturally when we open ourselves up – to another person, to ourselves or to our life. The light of such unconditional love provides essential nourishment to our being, helping us recognize the beauty at the core of our nature. Most of us experience the Great Love at some point in our lives – the birth of your child, falling in love with someone, or even in nature. However, it should be noted that the human personality isn’t a source of absolutely. Rather, the light of the Great Love flows through us, coming from the ultimate source of all. We are mere channels through which this vibrance glows yet in flowing through us, it finds a home.
2. Individual Love
All of us, most of our lives, project onto others feelings of love that come from deep within us. Yet, yogic view proves to us that all of our experiences of human love are merely a glimpse of Absolute Love. It is only when love is processed through the human psyche that it takes shape as something specific. Our thoughts, emotions and ego cloud our perception and we start to believe that love comes and goes, that we can feel it only when certain people are around us, or that there isn’t enough love for all. We distinct ourselves from love, thinking that it’s outside of us, or that it can be labelled into different forms; maternal love, romantic love, sibling love, compassionate love, love of nature, love of music. Practicing mindfulness and yoga can help remove this filtration and bring you closer to the experience of greatness that resides within us.
3. Love as Sadhana
Love as a practice helps us bridge the gap between our sense of what love is and the actuality of it. Through actions and attitudes that create a space for openness, kindness and acceptance in ourselves and in people around us is at the root of spirituality. We may not always feel like our best selves but we can make conscious effort to treat ourselves kindly. We may not like what other people say to us but we can try to pay attention to what they’re trying to convey instead of not listening at all. It’s about offering your best to other people, even if you’re not feeling the best at that particular moment. Mind you, it’s not about putting up a false front and pasting on a smile rather finding awareness within yourself to project love and kindness towards others.
So, how can you reignite love in your life?
To build a solid foundation of spirituality, you need to start by loving yourself. These few ways can help you embrace and share love.
1. Tell people you love them
In a world where “I love you,” is something to be afraid of, be the one that shares this love like sunlight. See how it lights up your and others’ lives.
2. Practice forgiveness
Let go of the pain you feel, not for the sake of others but for the sake of yourself. Embrace that we’re all human, we all make mistakes. Blessing others with forgiveness will allow you to share the love within.
3. Show compassion and love for yourself
If you want to bring change, you’ll need to change first. Practicing self-love goes beyond taking leisurely baths and making yourself a hot cup of tea. Notice your self-talk, see if you can replace your inner critic with a compassionate friend instead.
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