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An all-inclusive concept

Love is an idea I have long been fascinated with. I find it both incredibly beautiful and vastly complex, in the sense that it is layered. So I am always curious when I hear someone sharing what they think, know and understand about the nature and implications of love, and how they define it. 

Paul Chek, a US-based holistic health coach with several decades of client experience and deep-diving into the psychology and spirituality of the human experience behind him defines love as follows:

“Love is the flow of energy and information through empathic and compassionate connection to self and/or other.”

I love this definition. It’s poetic. It speaks to what I believe is an infinite capacity for human beings to love, as well as the ineffability of love. 

But it’s not evidently clear to those who don’t possess his breadth and depth of understanding, me included, what action points we should take from this.

What energy? What information?

Teal Swan, a spiritual thought-leader who teaches a reality-anchored—and hence sometimes hard to stomach—approach to human relationships, offers us the following understanding of love:

“To love something is to take it as part of yourself. It is an experience more than it could ever be a concept. Love is inclusive. It is the energetic movement towards oneness. When you love something, you energetically pull it towards you and include it as you."

Now this, THIS is deep. For me, this inspires a greater sense of responsibility over the experience of love. One that points to a requirement to cast aside our judgements and illusions of separation. It requires us to release fear. To step in. The implication is that when you see something in another and reject it, you are rejecting part of yourself. And vice versa. So the work is to recognise that we and the other belong to one thing, that we are in a shared experience, and that all parts belong.

We can simplify this idea using biblical terms, where we are commanded in Matthew 22:39, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 

Many might take that to mean we should be kind to others. But my sense is that the opposite is just as relevant—that we should use our standards for treating others and apply them to ourselves. Just think about that a moment... if you spoke to your neighbour the way you speak to yourself, do you think they’d be willing to receive your packages on your behalf when you’re not at home? Ouch. 

Sometimes making that distinction between loving oneself and loving another is less simple than imagined. But perhaps that’s kind of the point.

You know, love as an all-inclusive concept?

Rumi’s words bring us a little closer once again:

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find the barriers within yourself that you’ve built against it.” 

This is a lifetime's worth of work we are talking about. So don't hurry. 

There is a Dutch expression ‘je mag er zijn.’ Literally: you are allowed to be there. What it can also (and usually does) imply is that ‘it’s good to have you here’, ‘it’s really wonderful to have you here’, or even ‘I love having you here!’ It’s really quite sweet how indirect such a compliment can be in a culture that is otherwise quite direct. It’s a nice reminder of the vulnerability so many of us feel when it comes to love and loving, and being loved. 

Perhaps this tiny expression is where the magic is. Loving ourselves, or others, is not for the faint of heart. It requires us to dig deep. While we're busy developing the skills and courage to do so, maybe it’s okay simply starting out with baby steps:

You’re allowed to be here (whether referring to yourself or another).

I’m not a relationship coach, I don’t profess to be. But such topics inevitably come up from time to time with my clients, and I have seen some tremendous shifts in relational dynamics arise from shining the light of consciousness on how we relate with our nearest and dearest. These conversations are almost always with the most tender parts of us.

So whether you’re wining and dining today, dating yourself at home or striking St Valentines Day from your calendar in disgust, please be gentle with you. And also be brave. And fierce. And bold. And whatever else love is asking of you.  Want to read more on love and relationships? Have a look at past editions about relationships as mirrors and how language can limit our expression of love.


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