Love is all around us. Love feels good when we’re sad. Love even heals when we’re sick.
Love feels like it should be simple, right?
And to some extent, it is!
...but, really, what is love? More importantly, how do we find it? How do we recognize it? How do we embrace it?
It’s hard to explain, but it’s quite easy to illustrate. Let’s start with this: There are five simple perspectives that beget love.
I Love You… ish.
Years ago, I remember my first girlfriend saying “I love you.” I treated her - and our relationship - with the idea that she loved me. In the end, she made choices and actions that didn’t align with what I thought love was.
It’s easy to say that she was just saying she loved me because that’s what you do in a relationship, but I choose to believe she was actually acting out of love. At least what she understood love to be.
The real issue wasn’t her, but the “what I thought love was” that really gets us. I love you isn’t universal. When someone says “I love you,” they’re saying “I view you in the way I interpret love.”
This realization lead to a path of discovery. A path to figure out love. How can love mean something different to everyone? Spoiler: it doesn’t.
The Five Perspectives
Unlike “I love you,” pure love truly is universal. Love is a swirling pool of bliss that is always prevalent and exists everywhere. Once we tap into it, we simply live in - and become - love itself. “I love you” is really how far into the pool you allow yourself to be.
1. The Self
Of course it starts with love of self. To love one’s self is much easier than we continue to trick ourselves into believing. Chances are, you already do love yourself to some extent. The catch is… that’s enough! Loving even one part of “you” is the first step. Just keep going down that path and take whatever turn you need to in order to stay on it.
2. The Other
This is the easiest one, for sure. When someone in our life has a positive impact, we love them with ease. Family, friends, children, pets all fall in this “other” category. At some point in our lives, we loved someone other than ourself. I’ll bet there’s someone in your life now that falls in this category.
3. The Stranger
There are certainly people we don’t know that we can love. Feeling for the homeless or helping a group of people that don’t have what you do are both ways that we love strangers. In order to find ourselves wrapped in love, we need to take this one step further and love the person in the car in front of us. To love strangers is to have love for people we may currently be indifferent to.
4. The Jerk
This one isn’t so easy. We actually need to be loving to people that aren’t on our “nice” list. Oh, that person in the car in front of us can quickly go from a stranger to a jerk, right? But, they too are experiencing humanity in all of its struggles. We don’t need to go hug them (though they might need it), but we do need to have positive intentions. The best thing that helped me get this one right is learning about the perspective problem: in short, when we do something wrong, it’s an accident; when someone else does something wrong - even the same thing - it’s a character flaw. The perspective problem is a subconscious behavior socialized into most of us.
Universal love is the neverending belief that the world is out to support us. While we will run into people during our lives that don’t seem to embody our versions of love, universal love teaches us that they will at some point. Universal love is the quintessential love for the sake of loving. You can often find this quality in Veterinarians, Firefighters, and Wellness Practitioners.
When we cultivate each of these Perspectives of Love, we find ourselves bathed in a world of positivity and support.
A Meditation to Help
For most of us, it’s going to take a little bit of work to get to the universal love space. So, here’s a little meditation you can practice whenever you’re feeling like a little love.
NOTE: Inspiration for this comes from a meditation by Neida Ratzlaff at JourneyToYoga.com
Find a space you can sit comfortably in for five or ten minutes.
Take a deep breath and smoothly let it out. Maybe take another.
Focus on your heart and imagine a green glow lighting up with each inhale
Consider someone you love, bring a picture of them to mind, and visualize sending that green glow to that person.
Find someone from the day that you don’t know - maybe someone you remember from a store or someone you passed on the sidewalk - and visualize sending them that green glow.
Bring to mind someone you actively don’t like and visualize sending them that same green glow from your heart. (Good job! That’s the hard one.)
Sit for a few minutes - as long as you’d like - and simply feel the glow of your own heart reaching out to these three others, filling your own body, and maybe even extending that glow to fill the room, the house, the town…
You can listen to an audio of this meditation as an mp3
Many of us spend a vast amount of time looking for, hoping for, yearning for love. And the trick of it is that love exists within us. When we free it from there - free ourselves from holding love back - we can experience love in its full glory.