By Jean Farish
Love is our natural dwelling place and inner sanctuary of truth, peace, and freedom. When we dwell in the consciousness of love, we shed feelings of anxiety and worry and have better relationships with ourselves and others.
Love is more than just an endearing word used casually with the assumption that it is understood. The New Oxford American dictionary defines love as an intense feeling of deep affection. Love is a selfless choice that inspires us to be our best selves. Whether grand or subtle, our expressions of love are unique to each of us. Our desires, longings, and yearnings point us back to our innermost desire to love and be loved. As quoted by Julian of Norwich, “Our life is all grounded and rooted in love, and without love we may not live”. To dwell in love is to overcome fear. We dwell in love by becoming self-aware, opening to love, practicing moment by moment, loving ourselves and others, and witnessing the ripple effect of change.
Becoming self-aware is empowering. What derails our self-awareness is focusing on the expectations of others. Driven by family, cultural, and societal demands we may lose ourselves in the endless quest to please others. Herbert Otto quotes, “We are all functioning at a small fraction of our capacity to live fully in its total meaning of loving, caring, creating, and adventuring. Consequently, the actualizing of our potential can become the most exciting adventure of our lifetime”.
The power of love that lies within frees us from external forces that diminish our capacity of expression. As we become more self-aware and authentic, we discard beliefs and values unaligned with our highest good. Allowing quiet time, connecting with nature, and journaling can stimulate our awareness. Spiritual mentors, support groups, and and positive networks can be valuable resources to expand our knowledge and awareness.
Opening to love
Our desire for love is central to human existence. “Where do we begin? Begin with the heart?” as quoted by Julian of Norwich. Love dwells within and every act of love radiates from our inner being. To be open to love, we can incorporate the nine ingredients in Henry Drummond’s Spectrum of Love including: Patience, kindness, humility, generosity, courtesy, unselfishness, good temper, guilessness, and sincerity. These ingredients enable us to strengthen our character, live by higher ideals, and dwell in love. Discovering more about ourselves and expanding our capacity to love, we fully live life. As we actively demonstrate love, it is exponentially reflected back to us. Living a heart-centered life is a joy-filled life.
Practicing moment by moment
Achieving self-mastery requires awareness and practice. Our thoughts and feelings can take us in and out of our capacity to dwell in love, and each moment is an opportunity to be loving. When we are in control of our thoughts and feelings that drive our actions, we are able to take charge. Therefore, we should ask ourselves critical questions to determine whether our thoughts, feelings, and actions are moving us in the right direction.
Erich Fromm viewed love as an art that requires knowledge and effort. The process of learning an art is the mastery of the theory, mastery of the practice, and it must be a matter of ultimate concern. There is nothing else in the world more important than the art”. Events of our lives have forced us to confront the need for love more than ever before. Understanding the ingredients of love and making a wholehearted commitment to put them into action, can strengthen our practice. As we embody love, we feel better about ourselves and others.
Loving ourselves and others
Set your intention to dwell in love by being patient, kind, humble, courteous, generous, unselfish, good tempered, guileness, and sincere. These ingredients of love will keep your thoughts pure, and refrain from being distracted by negativity. You will become more attentive to yourself. As quoted by Buddha, “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserves your love and affection“. As we live the change we naturally dwell in love and help to create a more loving space in which to live. As these ingredients are demonstrated, everyone is uplifted.
Witnessing the ripple effect of change
It is our responsibility to reclaim love, from which a better human existence will emerge. Awakening the love within brings light to dark places. Just as positive and negative thoughts cannot coexist, our light can shine to overcome darkness. We can bring love to situations even when people are not loving. It may not be easy, but it’s worth it. Consider it your best practice and eternal lesson to learn how better to love. Love leaves indelible impressions that can result in sustainable change.
As we practice and embody love in our daily lives, we overcome fear. Through awareness and practice, love enriches all aspects of our lives. Devotion and commitment to love opens our hearts and attract the love we desire. Be grateful for each breath of life, and the endless opportunities to reflect love. When in doubt and fear, retreat to your natural dwelling place of love.