Falling, flowing, or unfurling? The act of loving
Love keeps popping up - somewhat unsurprisingly - in my writing recently and so I would like to dive deeper today into the act of loving.
In last month’s post, I wrote about how, as a queer person who lives towards the relationship anarchy end of the monogamy spectrum, my views on love and where it can be found may be perceived by some as outside of the "norm". However, whilst we may have differences in who and how we love, my aim is to write in a way that will resonate with you regardless of your relating style.
So let's get to it and explore - what does it mean to love?
Earlier this year, one of my regular clients shared in a session that they found themselves “falling in love” with someone in their life and had some fear and resistance coming up about this. It led to an embodied enquiry in which we explored what “falling in love” felt like in their body, what images and emotions it conjured up, and then we contrasted that with how they would like to feel. For them, "falling" felt like something out of a nightmare, a complete lack of control or agency that left them in panic. The phrase they found that came closest to describing the feeling they wanted was “FLOWING into love”. In similar conversations I've had with others since, I've heard phrases such as “growing into”, “finding the way back to” and “rising into" love.
I personally enjoy the process of UNFURLING into love. It conjures up images of expansion, as my unique blend of values, beliefs, and desires meets another's. There's growth in this but also exposure.
I started to write this piece below at the beginning of such an unfurling, in which I encountered an all-too familiar fear about allowing myself to fully receive someone else's love. I wonder, does a seedling resist emerging from the soil for fear of being scorched by the sun?!
Being is dying by loving
I wrote this quote, commonly attributed to Meha Baba (or sometimes to Ram Dass), on my “inspirational quote of the day” blackboard almost 5 years ago. Little did I know then that - aside from the occasional guest contribution - it would become a pretty much permanent feature in my life. Five years is a lonnnng commitment in "Lex time" so realising this made me wonder what had given it such staying power.
I remember writing the quote out for the first time, feeling deeply moved by it and also sure that it had some profound meaning that went way beyond my ability to fully comprehend.
That blackboard has moved with me from one home to another, the words smudged and rewritten. It currently resides in my practice space and, despite seeing these words almost daily, the impact hasn’t lessened in any way.
Truth be told, I still don’t know fully how to interpret these words. I do enjoy though how different meanings become apparent to me over time and as I look at the words through ever-changing lenses of joy, grief, and hope.
Today, the words have a couple of distinct meanings for me.
Firstly, I interpret this as a way of saying that love is the very essence of being. We are all in an ongoing process of dying but to fully BE - to relish the living part of this experience - is to love. That is what makes us. To move beyond existing into LIVING is to love, to experience love, to feel love, receive love, and ultimately to BE an embodiment of love. So to feel in our full aliveness is to love as fully and expansively as we can. To allow love to flow through us and from us as freely as possible. And yes, it's quite possibly the most "love and light" thing you'll hear me say!
Secondly, I read into this the need for us to surrender and let go of attachments, to embrace dying or more broadly the impermanence of everything in life. Living or being through this lens is a process of becoming free, of letting parts of ourselves and our world go (or die) and this is made possible THROUGH love, or more specifically through recognising that love is not a containable object. In my own life, I've felt the difference between the times when I have been operating under the illusion that I can somehow block the flow of love, hoard it, protect it, control it, or hide it, and when I've surrendered into it in all its untameable power. The latter may feel chaotic and scary but I don't doubt my aliveness for a second in that space. The more we can surrender to the uncertainty, to the uncontrollable nature of life, the more we can access an unconditional form of love that has no attachment to someone or something being, doing, feeling, becoming anything. The same applies to ourselves - we are free to live when we can access this unconditional love for ourselves, that is not dependent on how successful, smart, popular, good, or any other measure we judge ourselves to be.
It's been a particularly active period for me in terms of feeling the full force of love in all its awe, joy, fear, shame, and confusion-bringing capacity. I have felt its presence in my body vividly. Sometimes revelling in the throbbing expansion of my heart overflowing in the giddiness of connection. Other times the crushing, tenderness of doubt that leaves me reeling and withdrawing to lick my wounds. I've also been acknowledging the parts of me that need love and tenderness. To be loved unconditionally by me.
When we are being love, we extend outward an environment that allows people to act in different, more loving and peaceful ways than they are used in behaving. Not only does it allow them to be more loving, it encourages them to be so.
(Quote from Ram Dass)
So what can we take away from this? Here are a few reflection points to ponder:
What does the act of loving feel like in your body? Or what images or words does it bring up for you?
If you were to imagine your balance sheet of love right now, what would it look like? Are you giving out more than you are letting in, or vice versa?
Are you aware of any ways in which you are blocking, resisting, hoarding or otherwise slowing the flow of love? And if so, what is beneath that?
Image credit: Diana Parkhouse on Unsplash