What does love look like, taste like, feel like?
This is the question I asked myself *after* I heard this question in my mind: “do I even know how to love?” I was so taken aback by this question that I paused right in the tracks of the neural pathway from which this question arose.
I do not have a love relationship in my life and have not been in a committed relationship since the “ka-boom.” The question “do I even know how to love?” came from a place of longing for love as well as a much darker place. Somewhere deep in my psyche a belief exists that I am incapable of pure, authentic love, that I am somehow flawed, and this is the reason I do not have a love relationship in my life.
From that dark place in my psyche, I was blaming myself for not attracting new love into my life. Because of my self-awareness I could see what my mind was up to. I wasn’t going to play along. I paused myself in the tracks of that darkened neural pathway and instead I chose to redirect myself with the question, “what does love look like, taste like, feel like?” This moment of self redirect was me choosing not to fall into habitual thought patterns, choosing not to fall into the trap set by my mind. I could have so easily started to feel sad and depressed around the absence of love in my life. Instead I chose to begin an inquiry of love.
I have spent weeks ruminating on love, trying to answer for myself “what does love look like, taste like, feel like?” In my inquiry of love, I have made an effort to understand and discover anew the true nature of love; I have found myself considering the deeper essence of love. From my rumination and contemplation on love, I have come up with a draft, very much a work in progress, of some essential ingredients of what I will call “mindful” loving.
Working Title: “The look, taste, and feel of mindful loving.”
Giving. Love is a gift that we give to others. In love, we give of ourselves. We give our time, we give our attention, we give our affection, we give our devotion. We give support. We become a pillar for the one we love to lean on. In love there is no selfish motivation for personal gain. Love is a gift that we give freely and from the heart.
Receiving. We receive the gift of love. We embrace the gift. We cherish the gift, we treasure the gift and hold it dear. We celebrate the gift. And then we give back. Love is fluid, flowing back and forth, back and forth. In love we give and receive, give and receive. This giving and receiving, this relationship, is the balance of love.
Understanding. To love is to understand. To be loved is to be understood. To understand deeply, we must inhabit the heart space of the one we love. We must understand their joys and their sorrows, what lifts them up, what pulls them down. We must be able to see the world through their eyes, to understand what it feels like to be in their mind, their body, their heart. We must understand their inner workings. How do we come to understand? We learn the history of the one we love, how their mind and heart has been shaped by that history. We come to understand through deep listening, through empathy.
Transparency. For love to flourish, there must be openness and honesty. We cannot hide ourselves or parts of ourselves behind those walls we built up around our hearts when we were wounded or hide behind the shields we are accustomed to holding in front of our hearts when we are not trusting of others. In love there are no walls, no shields. We do not hold back. In love the window to our heart glistens. In love we shine and can be seen.
Vulnerability. We arrive at true intimacy, the depths of love, through vulnerability. Vulnerability requires trust in ourselves, trust in the other. To be vulnerable, we must feel safe. To be vulnerable means to open our hearts and let another in, to allow that person to see our fears, our weakness, our flaws, our insecurities, our wounds, our struggles. We spend so much of our waking lives trying to hold ourselves together. When we are vulnerable, we allow ourselves to fall apart before another, we surrender. And we can do this because we are safe in love and we are held.
Presence. To love means to stay. We stay no matter how scared we are. We stay no matter what has been triggered within us. We remain present with whatever comes up in love, in life. We stay with the turbulence. We stay with the unexpected bumps. We stay during the unforeseen catastrophes. We remain present with ourselves, with another, with life. We stay with love.
“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
From my heart to yours. Thank you for reading, for staying, and for celebrating LOVE with me.