Love is both a feeling and an energy that sustains us if we align consciously with it. When times get tough, we can bounce back more readily If we choose love, no matter what. I have learned that by keeping love as my highest intention, I feel more peaceful, and this focus sustains me even in stressful, painful moments.
Below you will find techniques to connect more deeply with the pure energy of love, a simple meditation to dissolve the barriers between you and others, and encouragement to keep you engaged with love at all times.
More Than a Feeling
We start with the aspect of love that is most readily understood, the feeling that surges sometimes predictably and sometimes unexpectedly when we interact with our families, friends and pets. We may enjoy an uprising of this feeling when we are awed by something in nature like a sunset or dramatic mountain vista. But this level of love, the feeling level, is fleeting and quickly usurped by the next emotional wave, leaving us to seek new experiences or connections to get it back.
It wasn’t until I stopped looking for love externally and started trying to connect with the energy of it within my own being, that I realized there is a never-ending well of love just waiting for me to dip in and draw from. The more I align with this source of love and know myself as it, the less I need to find or feel it through other people, places and things. And the more I know myself as the love that I had been seeking, the more freely I am able to share it with all those around me.
From the Inside Out
In my book, "Breathing Love: Meditation in Action," I explain that the first way we connect to the love that lives within, is by developing self-compassion. We must break down the walls around our hearts caused by judgment, criticism and fear. In doing so, we make space for love to breathe again through us.
Try this experiment now. Just for a moment, be kind to yourself. Really, truly as kind and loving as you would be to the most wonderful person you have ever known. Offer yourself a positive thought, a moment of understanding, rather than self-criticism or self-judgment.
Doesn’t that feel better? I know that it does! You see love is totally an inside job. It does not require anyone or anything else for us to experience it, because love is our true nature, the very essence of our being. Remembering this heals us from the inside out.
Forgiveness Is Freedom
“We are not held back by the love we didn’t receive in the past, but by the love we are not extending in the present.” ~Marianne Williamson, "A Return to Love"
Of course, the first place we must extend love is to our self, which is why we started with the self-compassion exercise. But we cannot stop there if we want to be truly happy. We must continue by extending love in greater and greater measure to whomever is in front of us; whether we are in a relationship with them or not, whether they are reciprocating or not, even whether we like them or not.
To do this successfully, a lot of forgiveness is required. Forgiveness liberates love. In fact, the best way out of feeling resentful and unloving is to give more love, to ourselves and others, through forgiveness. This frees us from the negative, energetic hooks of the past and aligns us with love now.
(More on freedom in Be Brave, Be Free: 2 Yogis' Philosophy on Achieving Inner Freedom.)
A Different Way of Seeing
In "Breathing Love," I share some "meditations in action" — short practices that can keep us on track with our intention to live from love. One of these is called the Eyes of Love Exercise.
Try this today. First, take a breath of self-compassion and see yourself as love. Set an intention to be fully present with others you encounter and take the time to look at them through eyes of love. Actually make eye contact and smile. Appreciate the connection you share; the same energy beats in their hearts as it does in your own. Hold your heart open regardless of what they offer you. And remember to offer compassion to yourself and to others, even the "difficult" ones. They need it the most!
Choosing love may seem like a big stretch in moments of anger, stress or fear, but with practice I have found that it becomes as simple as breathing. Love is the harmonizing energy of life and the more we remember ourselves as love, the more we align inwardly with our true nature and the more peaceful life becomes.
(Read more from Jennie Lee about love in Breathing Love: Meditation in Action (Excerpt + Guided Meditation of Love).)