What does it mean to love or find love as part of your spiritual path? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, mostly about my extreme aversion to approaching love in any sort of rational way. What makes sense to me is that if you live your life in a contemplative way, if you have a spiritual practice, your faith and trust in yourself and your world expands and includes love. I was thinking the other day about how I feel some sort of new freedom to be honest with myself and others, to not be so hung up on how I’m received, and to trust that everything will work out- that it is working out perfectly, and I don’t need to worry so much. Or, at all. That feeling was all about my career, money, etc, and decidedly not about finding someone to partner with, but now I’m seeing it in this place, too.
I’m finding that when you truly sit with yourself and you train yourself to love (let’s call it metta or g’milut chasidim or just plain love), self-love happens and it’s sort of hard to contain, to keep all to yourself. This process of really opening your heart, being receptive to and generous with love, is a leap of faith. Feeling like God (however you want to define or not define the concept) has your back, that it’s all going to be okay- that makes sense to me. Applying logic to love makes me short-circuit, and it’s just not the kind of life I want to live. Honestly, I know I’m treading some sort of hippie line here. And part of me can’t even believe I’m writing (or feeling this), but I think it’s true.
Meditation seems like good training wheels for unconditionally loving. To love someone means to see, respect and accept all of them fully, their faults and their amazingness, their potential and their past, and most importantly their present reality- and to love all of it. A meditation practice teaches you to do this with yourself- what a great experiment! Here you have this subject that you can observe from the inside-out, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Learning to be gentle with yourself, to hear all of the negativity and judgments and hatred that we all have somewhere inside and to softly move it forward, past fear and into understanding, this is the great human experience.
It’s been an important part of my meditation practice- to deeply listen to myself, to feel compassion, and to believe that I am capable and have the capacity to grow and learn and change. Because of that, I also believe that others are capable of the same thing. And, here’s where faith comes crashing in- cultivating an open heart is difficult, I feel vulnerable, I feel sort of forced to be brave, but on the other side of that, I also feel less afraid of all of those maybe ridiculous worst-case scenarios that pop up in single-life (“I’ll never find anyone,” “I might be alone forever,” etc). I don’t want to minimize these fears. They’re real, but they don’t have to move in and set up shop. Just like in meditation, it’s possible to have these fears but not attach to them, to let them come up and let them fall away. I’m learning to have faith that love sort of works like my breath, and I’m working on noticing those subtle moments when an inhale becomes an exhale and paying attention to the way it feels when my breath leaves my body completely and then comes back without me running after it.