What’s love got to do with it?
I have a confession to make, I have utterly failed in managing to start this article numerous times over the past couple of months. This is completely out of character for me. It made me wonder what was going on? Why has this article been so tough to write?
Then I realised it was the subject. Love. You see, I want things to have order (an obsessive trait of my personality). I want a beginning, middle and end. And love just doesn’t flow that way (baby). Love is wonderfully messy. And so I have had to learn to let go (a little) and just keep typing. To hell with order as I throw caution to the wind. In fact I write my last paragraph before I could even imagine my first. A stream of consciousness if you like that I hope will make some sense in the whole. As much sense as love does.
I have learnt that loving myself is key if I want to manifest love in my life.
Love in terms of expression and connection has always been a challenge for me. That’s quite a tough thing for me to admit (let along write for publication). Brought up fiercely independent with rigid schizoid defences, I’ve been guilty of neglecting that which is most precious, my heart. Thankfully almost 5 years ago that all changed as I embarked into personal therapy and psychotherapy training. Starting this wondrous, and unpredictable journey of self-discovery has allowed me to feel far more connected to that beating organ inside my chest, both physically and emotionally. I have learnt that love begins at home. Starting with me looking in the mirror. Or looking at a photo of my young, neglected inner child. Wise beyond her young years already separating head from heart. I have learnt that loving myself is key if I want to manifest love in my life.
The wise words of Ken Wilber immediately spring to my mind. He says that we are already sprit and that when we abandon our attempts to search, we will find that spirit was with us all along.
As a trainee transpersonal psychotherapist, I automatically place love through my spiritual lens of seeing. Is my search for love, really a search for my spirit? Can the two be separated? The wise words of Ken Wilber immediately spring to my mind. He says that we are already sprit and that when we abandon our attempts to search, we will find that spirit was with us all along. It’s as if our attempts cause us to become blind to spirit’s presence. This really calls to me about my search for love.
I’ve often considered love as something ‘out there’ to find. Something tangible and obtainable. Something you get from someone else. Something external. That can be partly true of the love we receive from friends and family. But part of my personal journey has allowed space to access my more profound love. That love which I hold for myself. My search begins with me.
Considering my search for love, I couldn’t help but start also considering life’s meaning. Yalom’s work on one of his ultimate concerns, meaninglessness, explains that the more we seek meaning, the less we find. This tallies for me with what Wilber says about spirit. That it is found within not outside. Call of the search for love. It’s been with me all along.
Yalom’s works reminds me of one of my favourite books entitled “If you meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill him!” (by Sheldon Kopp). Not only is that an attention grabbing title but it has a profound message, directly from the Zen Master. There is no real meaning, which exists outside of us. We have our own Buddhahood within. The challenge is to manifest it.
There is no real meaning, which exists outside of us. We have our own Buddhahood within. The challenge is to manifest it.
One specific challenge for me is to hold as much compassion for myself as I show towards my clients. I sometimes shock myself with how tyrannical my inner critic can be when I would never hold others to the same standard. I need to love not just the positive aspects of myself but also aspects that inhabit my shadow. Just as my inner child needs a hug, so too does my inner tyrant.
It’s no surprise to me that my somewhat random stream of consciousness on love has encompassed brief glimpses of spirit and meaning. For me the three are inextricably linked. There can be no separation (or no boundary as Wilber might say). My awareness and most importantly acceptance of love will inevitable lead to a deeper connection to spirit and an enriched meaning to my life.
Recently I was watching the film “While we’re young” (with Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts) and there was a scene which really resonated with me whilst drafting this article. Four adults are chatting and all four struggle to remember a certain word (being marzipan), three of them reach for their smart phones to find out the answer. The forth person tells them not to look the word up on their phones saying “let’s just not know”. Stop searching for answers. Sit in the unknown. See what unfolds. Let’s just not know. And let that be ok.