Being that we are breezing through the month of February, there have been a lot of ideas about love. What is love? How does it feel? What is true love? What is the difference between love and being in-love? Is love a feeling? Is love a presence of mind? To help me explore the definition of love, I turn to a quote by David Richo: “Most people think of love as a feeling but love is not so much a feeling as a way of being present.” I think most people want to have a loving relationship with self, with family members and friends, with a significant other and people we come across every day. We live on this humongous planet where there are so many facets of culture, life, and sustenance, but I like to think that love is a common thread of which we all share and relate.
I can honestly say that this is something I am working on for myself. I speak from personal experience when I say that the greater amount of love I experience in life with myself and others, the more peace, serenity and joy I feel on a regular daily basis. David Richo has helped me do that. He is a practicing psychotherapist, teacher, workshop leader and writer in California. He harmonizes and brings together transpersonal psychology, various religious perspectives, poetry, mythology and his own experience – of which I can easily relate. (www.DavidRicho.com)
The quote I chose here is simple, but yet I think it is very meaningful: “Most people think of love as a feeling but love is not so much a feeling as a way of being present.” (How to be an Adult in Relationships: The 5 Keys to Mindful Loving, by David Richo)From clients, friends, and my own experiences, I have seen this to be true. I, like most people for a long time, thought of love as a feeling that eluded me. I wasn’t quite sure what it was. I am pretty clear on what the love I have for my children is all about – I experience that every day of my life. But really knowing what it means to be ‘in-love’ or seeing what love for different friends and relationships is…well, it is an interesting thing to observe in my own life. So, let’s take a look at what love really is.
What I have come to realize is that when I am being a loving person to myself, I am truly present in who I am and accepting of who I am at this exact moment – and in each moment. Wherever I am on my journey, I know that there are numerous timelines going on as far as some areas where I excel, some where I am mediocre, and some that are a new kind of experience for me altogether. There are hundreds of those different timelines going on at all times.
I don’t know why, but it seems like people expect or believe we should already know things or already be perfect in all these different elements and areas of our lives. Obviously, that is not realistic. We really need to be able to stop and get a general idea, from our own perspectives, of where we are and be 110% good with it. To refer back to the quote:“…love is not so much a feeling as a way of being present.” The way of being present with oneself, when you look at self-love, is to be present with yourself in whatever you are experiencing in that moment. Sometimes you experience hurt or sadness. So be present in that. You can love it but also learn from it instead of being upset or arguing and thinking you shouldn’t feel that way. You can be present with that and love that it is something you are seeing about yourself, which you can observe. Becoming aware and accepting of oneself in each moment is a necessary step toward love of others. You must first love and accept yourself, and everything about yourself in each moment.
Let me stop here and say that you can accept yourself where you are, but you don’t have to become complacent. That has been a huge topic with my clients over the last several months; especially with athletes. Moving into acceptance, love, and peace does not mean complacency or becoming lazy or condoning unhealthy behaviors or actions on your part or others. It just means you can accept and be present in love in that moment, and know you have the ability to make some changes.
How about being present in your relationships with others? I have seen that when I am experiencing love with another, I see them in that moment no matter what they are doing. Even if my teenager is acting out or having a moment of frustration, I am able to look at her and experience what is happening and be present in that moment. I can realize that is where she is at in her journey, and know it is just one aspect of many in the timelines I mentioned. There are many other levels or timelines of events that are parts of her that are happening as well. So the love can be present with where she is in the moment.
I can also see this in my son who is a few years younger, and the completely different journey he is on. I can be present in his faith and what he is experiencing no matter what it is in that moment (hurt, anger, sadness, etc.). To be able to embrace that and not believe it should be different, even if, as a mother, I wish he didn’t hurt or feel sad. It is a part of life and something we all go through. Wishing would take me out of the moment, but being present allows me to love him in the moment.
Then there are relationships with significant others. Everyone is unique and on their own journey with their own characteristics, values, sense of humor, philosophy, ways they choose to spend their time, care for others, and so on. We see all of those things in every human being. But when in relationships with a significant other, we probably spend more time with them seeing the intricate details of their personality on a regular basis. We need to be able to genuinely love them, wherever they are in their journey; to be present in each moment and whatever timelines they are experiencing, and honor that. It is wonderful be able to look at them and enjoy their sense of humor and whatever challenges they face, and see how they work through those. Enjoy those relationships and build them and experience what you bring to them and what the moments bring out.
“Most people think of love as a feeling, but love is not so much a feeling as a way of being present.” I completely agree with David Richo and I can tell you I see it all day long throughout my life experiences and what I have evolved into. His book, How to be an Adult in Relationships; The 5 Keys to Mindful Loving, definitely raises a mind flag because we can get caught up in the thinking mind that can go off in some tangent or fear and take us out of being present. The ego that can believe “I am always right and what they are doing is wrong”, or “things should be a certain way and if they are not then it’s a problem”. All of those things are us not being mindful and not being present, but getting caught up in reactionary, fear-based mind instead. We can get out of it over and over again if we are not mindful.
What can you do to stay mindful when your ego takes you out of the present? You can defuse it and realize you don’t have to fall for it all the time. I actually view the ego here as a young child-like part of the mind that has tantrums when things aren’t going it’s way and it is afraid of all sorts of things. It’s even a slow processor compared with the subconscious mind. The conscious mind analyzes and takes longer to try to figure something out. Then when it does, it believes it is right and factual and the only way that something can be. It’s very interesting when you start to look at that level of the mind and take the power away from it. That level of the mind will not disappear, but its energy can go into healthier ways of thinking and be pretty powerful in creating a more joyful life just as easily as it was in the habit of creating an anxious, stressful or frustrated life.
A turnaround in the mind back to the present is possible. But it first comes from the recognition and awareness that the conscious mind is caught up in a cycle of stoic, fear-based thinking. It can be analyzing, rationalizing, worrying about the future or dredging up regrets of the past. You can see how those things might affect all of your relationships (with self, others, friendships, dating relationships, significant others, children – all of them). Obviously you don’t want that, so keep working on bringing yourself back around to being present in each moment.
I completely agree with the author; that love is a way of being present. I hope you can use this information and begin to apply it to your life. If you need any help, I can definitely assist you with this. It’s one of the main things that is lacking in my clients. It doesn’t matter what subject they call me about, or why they believe they are calling. On the surface are the symptoms that made them pick up the phone to call me. But beyond that is the need to see and feel love, whether they believe it is there or not. I help them find it and tap into it. It’s always there. It’s just a matter of getting out of the overbearing thinking of the ego mind, being present, and then learning how to stay that way.
What is love? Love is not so much a feeling, as a way of being present.” Remember to live in the moment and love in the moment. Thank you for reading. May you have a mindfully present day!
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