Love has occupied my thinking as of late: what it really means, how do we truly love someone and love them well, can we love others if we don’t hold that space for ourselves?
I am an introvert. I need space and alone time like the air I breathe, and yet, I LOVE people. They fascinate me to no end, they hook me with their eccentricities and habits. Relationship with people is important to me, it occupies much of my mental energy and it manifests in all I do – in parenting and familial, creating communities of women and children, shared spaces of healing, my creative visioning and writing, relationship is always there. And Love is the foundation of all of it.
But what IS love?
The Greeks had different types of love – eros, agape, etc, but their concept of love doesn’t really fit what I am intuiting when I use the word – that is, a big, fierce, fiery, devotional, empathetic, compassionate love.
Big love is seeing someone. Really SEEing them - recognizing that the other’s inner divinity and shared humanity, being in a space of empathy and compassion. This love is elevated from the physical, the sexuality of love, though the importance and pleasure of sexuality is not to be discounted. Fierce love is genderless, non-binary, expansive and from the heart space at the center of the chest, anahata chakra, the seat of the soul. The ancient Egyptians recognized the supernal, elevated quality of the heart – emphasizing the importance of the heart over the brain (ex. the weighing of the heart ceremony). More contemporarily, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes has said that “the brain of the entire soul is the heart” (The Dangerous Old Woman series). It is from this space that we seek deeper connection with other, beyond the physical, coagulating and formulating as something more profound and substantive.
This Love is hallowed ground, the space of poets and philosophers, lovers and beloved; it is the purpose of my life. I have written about it before (http://ignitewell-being.com/the-subtle-art-of-seeing/). And yet, I have felt alone in my discernment of this fierce, unapologetic, won’t- be-stifled love, as much of the talk about love is romantic or sexualized or parental. This Love is none of those, or maybe to some extent, all of those. Big Love is hard to come by, in part I believe, because it is time consuming to initiate and maintain and requires a long view of Other. It can also be difficult to describe to the unacquainted, as we don’t possess the language for it.
Or so I thought, until I heard Senator Cory Booker describe this very love in his On Being interview: Here he speaks to Love as being an agent for change, for the political and for civic action, for spiritual evolution.
“if you see hope, opportunity, if you’re stubborn enough to, every time you open your eyes, see love and the face of God, then you can be a change agent ……… [T]o slow down: to stop, to look a person in the eye, to feel their heart beating with the same blood, to recognize their divinity, to see their light…. It is so easy to love people who agree with you, but the real test comes, to love someone who you disagree with………..And the way I talk about love — I mean, the kind of love I’m talking about is the love of Freedom Riders, the love of these young teenage boys who stormed beaches in Normandy. It’s the hard love. It’s the difficult love. It’s not an easy way. It’s hurtful. Love does get angry. And this is a time where our country needs a more courageous love, needs a more daring empathy. This is really a moment where we’re gonna define our culture, I think, in the next generation, and that word, “sacred,” to me, is what is needed now, this understanding that these are sacred spaces between us, and they need to be fueled and injected with an unapologetic, courageous, daring love……..[L]ove says, “I see your worth. I see your value.”
His implication of Love as all-encompassing makes it political, and the political, by definition, is the challenging of the status quo – the predictable patterns of bias, the us/them binary mentality. This Love challenges our dualistic thinking that we are somehow separate from Other, including nature, source/spirit/God. This Love confronts our forgotten belonging - we inter-are. We are only fully human in relationship with each other, nature, divinity, and our selves.
Our ability to express Big Love for others is best grounded in our own honoring of our embodied, soulful, loving Selves. Re-membering your own divinity and sanctity, your own joyousness and juice will be the catalyst to share that space with others. This Love has nothing to do with the intellect of Ego, but everything to do with soul-level sustaining nourishment through holding this holy, sacred, Love space for yourself. To Love your whole Self, flaws and all (http://ignitewell-being.com/what-is-shadow-work/) is shadow work - it is the flame that consumes and rectifies, allowing for integration and regeneration, healing and awakening.
Not coincidentally, our upcoming women’s circle at the time of this writing is in Leo and themed after love – “pulse of the heart, pulse of the earth” (August 2018). Big love is very Leonian, lion-like, fierce, vibrant, unapologetic, pack/pride-oriented and loud. How do you experience Love?
Additional Self-Reflection (there are no wrong answers):
- What is love to you? – define it.
- Who taught you how to love and what love is? How has that definition changed?
- How does your own shadow work fit into the concept of Big Love?
- How does love FEEL in your body? And where do you feel it in your body?
- How do you recognize Love as political? (if you don’t, review and reflect on the work of social justice activists such as Martin Luther King, Jr, Gandhi, and Mother Theresa)
- How are concepts like compassion and empathy related to Love?
Written by Dr. Allison Mitch, PT (DPT), RYT 500, reiki master. All written material is copyrighted; photo from Pexels.
For questions or collaboration, contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org