This is my 101st online featured article; it is fitting that the topic be love.
Love, true love, love of life, love of creation, love of the others, unconditional love. What is love? Is love a feeling or a state of being? How can we best approach and live love?
Love From a Yogic Perspective
The yogic notion of love is that it is the source of everything. It is Absolute Reality, Supreme Consciousness, Brahman, God, the Tao, the Source, the Mystic Heart. As such, love is woven into the fabric of the universe, which places it at the center of our Being.
At times, we glimpse this kind of love in nature, in a loving relationship, when we bond with our children, or during prayer. We are touched by experiencing luminosity and deep connectedness when we feel love. Love in all its forms has an impersonal and universal quality and changes our lives[i].
We cannot force love to happen, but we can grasp its various layers and work to connect to its source.
What is Unconditional Love?
Unconditional love is affection without limitations, conditions, or strings attached. It means someone loves you and wants nothing more in life than your happiness.
We must all have heard that there is no unconditional love in this world. Expecting unconditional love from others could become a nightmare because it does not exist. Searching for unconditional love is like chasing an unattainable goal which causes frustration as we will never be able to reach it.
What we really feel is reflected in what we do. The poet’s song is dazzling and the passion powerful, but the deepest beauty of love is how it changes lives.
— Rabi David Wolfe.
Love as a Spiritual Practice
In yoga, love as a practice is called Sadhana. This kind of love heals us from the unease created by what we think love can be and the way we experience it.
Our actions and attitudes that create an environment of kindness, acceptance, and harmony in ourselves and in those around us are the basis of our spiritual life.
When it comes to daily life, feeling love may be less important than acting loving.
The 7 Types of Love
Psychology tells us that the various kinds of love are:
- Sexual or passionate love like the modern concept of romantic love.
- Friendship as shared support.
- Familial love referring to the love between parents and their children.
- Universal love, such as the love for strangers, nature, or God.
- Uncommitted love can involve activities such as teasing and dancing, or overt flirting, seducing, and coupling. The focus is on fun with no strings attached.
- Practical love based on reason or duty and one’s long-term interests. Personal qualities, compatibilities and shared goals are favored.
- Self-love, which can be healthy or unhealthy. Unhealthy self-love is when people place themselves above the gods, or above the greater good.[ii]
Loving Others as They Are
Dr. Alberto Villoldo, medical anthropologist and author, reminds us that loving someone really means you love them for who they are, not who you are. Once you fully accept yourself as you are, then the love you meet in life becomes sacred.
If we take the example of the loving and devoted mothers of the world, their kind of love means their ego ceases to take front and center stage.
We can find this kind of love in ourselves when we “accept ourselves and open ourselves to the experience of divine love, the kind of love that infuses all of creations around us, the kind of love that gives us the strength to break free from the chains of needing unconditional love.”[iii]
The secret to fulfilment is to surrender to love that is around us instead of searching for it so we can shape it in the kind we wish to possess. Freeing ourselves from needy and insecure kind of love “feels like waking up from a nightmare”.
True love is about being present for the other(s).
Life becomes easier to live when we are possessed by love rather than trying to possess love.
When we surrender to this kind of love, we transcend fear. Being free from fear in this time of great fear becomes your ultimate victory over life.
When we surrender to the love and beauty that surround us, nothing can touch us or take us out of balance. In a way, we become invincible. Acting from this state of being, we share love with others without attempting to possess them or control them.
We create love with another person and manifest in a unique way the love that is present in the now.
When we practise love and gratitude, the world will mirror it back to us one way or another.
When we want to better the world, the love we experience starts with the quality of love in ourselves that we offer to the world.
Some people do their best to be liked hoping to attract one kind of love or another. Being valuable is more powerful than being liked. When you are true to your self, you will be rewarded with love, beauty, and abundance. These may not be exactly what you want, but they are still offered to you.
We benefit from checking what beliefs are limiting us and the pointless limitations that we impose on ourselves. We do ourselves a huge favor when we get rid of this cluttering.
Love comes in many forms and aspects. We could learn to accept it when it presents itself even when it is not in the form we envisioned.
Love can be found in life even amid suffering, fear, and ugliness.
Finding love within us first before seeking it in others to fill a void would empower us to live life in its fullness. Make the shift in your understanding of love and see what happens. Start now. Do not wait for this or that to take place. Love is the only thing there is.
How To Behave Lovingly
What you can do get close to real love in relationships is to:
- Have an open communication with others and do your best to understand their perspectives and perceptions.
- Share power in your relationship; avoid overpowering the others or trying to control them.
- Take their needs into consideration and be respectful of their feelings.
- Remember that you love them even though things might get complicated or tough.
- Do not expect them to be perfect all the time; love them with their flaws and imperfections.
- Be compassionate with the people in your life and provide them with emotional support and encouragement.
Yoga teaches us that love is the source of everything. Love is woven into the fabric of the universe, and that places it at the center of our Being.
Loving others means loving them for who they are. Freeing ourselves from constantly seeking unconditional love feels like waking up from a nightmare.
- Connect to the source of love by rising above our ego which cuts us off from love.
- Recognize that the awareness in the other person is the same awareness that is in us.
- Become aware that our feeling of being separated from others is the delusion of being unloved or believing that there is not enough love to go around.
For the great poet Rumi, love is always there, always available, and ready to pour itself out to us.
[i] “What Is Love? Understand the 3 Spiritual Levels of Love” article by Sally Kempton posted on Yoga Journal on August 28, 2007.
[ii] “These Are the 7 Types of Love” article posted by Neel Burton M.D. on June 25, 2016 on Psychology Today website.
[iii] “Courageous Dreaming” course with Dr. Alberto Villoldo.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on February 10, 2021:
Very well presented. Keep on writing good articles.
Alma Evans on February 09, 2021: