Take a breath right now, and notice how abundant the air is, full of life-giving oxygen offered freely by trees and other green growing things. You can't see air, but it's always available for you.
Love is a lot like the air. It may be hard to see - but it's in you and all around you.
In the press of life - dealing with hassles in personal relationships and bombarded with news of war and other conflicts - it's easy to lose sight of love, and feel you can't place your faith in it. But in fact, to summarize a comment from Gandhi, daily life is saturated with moments of cooperation and generosity - between complete strangers! Let alone with one's friends and family.
Love is woven into your day because it's woven into your DNA: as our ancestors evolved over the last several million years, many scientists believe that love, broadly defined, has been the primary driving force behind the evolution of the brain. Bands of early humans that were particularly good at understanding and caring for each other out-competed less cooperative and loving bands, and thereby passed on the genes of empathy, bonding, friendship, altruism, romance, compassion, and kindness - the genes, in a word, of love.
Nonetheless, even though the resting state of your brain - its "home base" when you are not stressed, in pain, or feeling threatened - is grounded in love, it's all too easy to be driven from home by something as small as a critical comment in a business meeting or a frown across a dinner table. Then we go off to a kind of inner homelessness, exiled for a time from our natural abode, caught up in the fear or anger that makes love seem like a mostly-forgotten dream. After a while, this can become the new normal, so we call homelessness home - like becoming habituated to breathing shallowly and forgetting the richness of air that would be available if we would only breathe deeply.
So we need to come home to love. To recognize and have confidence in the love in your own heart - which will energize and protect you, even when you must also be assertive with others. To see and have faith in the love in others - even when it is veiled or it comes out in problematic ways. To trust in love that's as present as air, to trust in loving that's as natural as breathing.
Rick Hanson is a neuropsychologist who has been meditating since 1974. His books include Buddha's Brain and Mother Nurture. He leads a weekly meditation group in San Rafael, California.
SEED QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What does coming home to love mean to you? Can you share a personal experience of a time when you realized that love was like air? What helps you to remember to breathe deeply?
Love at home begins for me from the inner core of my being . That space , the silence which I connect to everyday after waking up and learn to be with myself . that is home , that is where love is for me , a candle ever burning brightly at home . .Loving myself and from here this love flows outwards to others who I connect in my life . A deep feeling of love and compassion as I move on in life .
Love is selfless service - with a smile - at any age. When I was a little girl, I would gleefully help sweep and mop the house feeling pride in being trusted with adult jobs. When I was a young lady, I happily did all within my power to make my husband at the time happy. As a mother, I cleaned up and soothed the sick child, always with a smile, and continue to be the driver, the cook, the housekeeper and everything else that my young lad takes for granted ! I feel loved when someone enables me to be 'home' - where I can simply relax enough to breathe deeply naturally
Love, loving is embedded in all living things , human included. In the animals when we find this trait we simply say that they are programmed by nature. But the same thing is there in the human beings too. Programmed. Yet the Freewill that we possess makes that think that we can control everything. " I will love if I like. I will love if I want. " the moment this "I" takes over love is no longer in its pure form. It is contaminated .
So, I think, that to feel love and to feel loved back the "I" should recede in the back ground . This is where an understanding Self Knowledge would help.
There are different kinds of love, of course. One very important love is romantic love that involves chemistry, attraction, enjoying and wanting to be with the other. Another very important love is spiritual love which is based on being in union with the Source/God/Infinite Being that manifests in each of us and results in love/compassion/care towards others which is based on awareness that there are no others, that is, based on on our oneness. That spiritual love is our foundation, and coming home to love means to me coming to that awareness, abiding in that awareness, and acting out of that awareness. That spiritual love is like air in that we live in it, and probably because of it, and I realize it only during those times that I am aware of it, such as in my own meditation or reflection, and unfortunately I tend to often forget it when in the busyness of my living. Breathing in deeply the awareness that we are one, developing the habit to do so, helps me to more often remember to breathe in deeply that awareness, and being at that home base is grounding and enlivening.[Hide Full Comment]
Love is a natural force embedded within the hearts of all of us. It is just that over time we have smothered our love with all sorts of feelings such as hate and bitterness acquired through material pursuits. We must let go all these negative feelings that drains our energy. We must just give love to all living things without expecting love in return. Be not judgemental of the other persons perceived dislike of you. Given them love anyway. You will always receive love and be happy all the time.
Coming home to love means recognizing it is truly our natural state. When we are at home in our own love in our own heart, we can then reach out and love others. All of them. :) Here's to trusting in love as we trust in breathing. I realize love is like air especially when sharing LOVE with others even in what may be very small ways. Example, FREE HUGS. Opening up and hugging strangers filled the heart so much it was then easier to openly love in challenging situations, for example with a difficult family member. Here's to expanding out love inward and outward. HUGS from my heart to yours!
The word "love", in English, has many meanings. When I was a child, I "loved" my mother, chocolate ice cream, to play with my friends, the color red... etc.. As a young person I "loved" science fiction, an actor in a TV show, the cute boy in class, my dog, horses, someone's hair... the list went on, of course. As a young adult, I "loved" my current boyfriend, going to parties with my friends, helping other young people out...and so on and so forth. As a mature adult, my "ideas" about what the word "love" means has developed, matured. I have suffered the meaning of the word, and have transformed much of that suffering into a deeper understanding of the higher aspects of "love". I have also learned, that the word is so loosely used, in general speaking, that it is actually inadequate, to communicate the particular emotional state I wish to express. In "talking" about "love" (which can actually, only be felt), then, I must, for the sake of honest communication, give an exact description, to the sense, in which, I am using the word.
The Greeks have four words for love, "storge", which is a kind of natural affection between ourselves and our close associates, familial love, we can even feel this type of love for our pets. Then there is " philia", which is brotherly love, a deep and abiding friendship, where one wants the best for the other and tries to do that for them. "Eros" is romantic, passion for another, with sexual overtones, it is a very strong desire to merge, with the other, it can easily become connected, over time, with a desire to own or possess the other, if this happens it usually turns into something negative. The last Greek word for "love" is "agape". Agape is a kind of unconditional love, one that cannot change, it is an enduring love, the love we have for all humanity, our love for the Universal creator, the love we have for our own higher self, that is, our own little bit of BEING, and ultimately it is a kind of unconditional "love" for all bits of BEING everywhere, as all BEING arises from the same source, and so far as we our selves partake of BEING, we are that BEING, and so is all BEING ad-infinitum. Agape is the love of "God", yet to experience this love, one must find, and awaken "the God BEING", dwelling in one's own heart.
For me, this last form of love, "agape", is the form of love I have learned to call "home". I don't find my way to this home in my heart, that often. It is not easy to remain there when I do, the mind produces, so much that distracts me away from that place, automatic programming, opinions, judgment about everything and anything. To be there, I must be "here", in the present, it takes work, it requires conscious effort, to operate from this moment, to bring my BEING into this state of "love". It requires a certain kind of special energy to maintain my attention here.And I cannot sustain my attention, here, for too long, I experience this state in flashes, yet even the briefest moment, brings the wisdom and understanding of my connectedness. I am connected to you, and you are connected to me, we are connected to all BEING. Like you, I am one of the myriad creatures, one speck of all the forms of BEING has taken, experiencing, advancing, with you, creating this reality, which is home.