Mindfulness & Love
Thinking about ‘love’ and what it means ‘to love’ seems to be an appropriate topic for my February Newsletter! It will be interesting to get your feedback, I am always delighted that people take the time out of their busy schedules to let me know whether my writing has been helpful in some way…
Culturally, we are fed popular notions of romantic love, either the ‘happy ever after myth’ – the Disneyfication of love, or the myth that love is commensurate with pain and suffering, as is often portrayed in popular songs: ‘Is it desire or is it love that I’m feeling for you? I want desire ’cause your love only gets me abused’. In reality, love can only ever be kind and joyful, it is our ego-centric attachment that causes us pain!
In a Buddhist context, love has been defined clearly as an altruistic state, ‘a mind wishing to make another person happy’. It is about what we can give, not what we can take. Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh clarifies that the four components of true love are ‘loving kindness’, ‘compassion’, ‘joy’ and ‘inclusiveness’. There is no mention of the emotional and psychological pain referenced above, and it is clearly not a derivative of desire!
Mindfulness is…a mind that generates love and the confidence to express it. As we sit in mindfulness we learn to ‘fall in love’ with our self through the ‘repetition’ of practising the core skills of non-judgment, acceptance, patience, and appreciation, making it easier to open our heart to others: to give and receive love.
Love is only possible when we let our defences down and allow our self to be truly ‘vulnerable’. Indeed, vulnerability combined with the emotional resilience that mindfulness fosters, means that we can be more loving with more people, more of the time. Love is expansive, infinite and inclusive and we can open our hearts to all when we are not fearful of the ‘repercussions’, when we know we have the inner resources to support us and we are not fearful of being hurt or ‘abused’, when our priority is giving, not receiving.
Mindfulness practice provides us with an opportunity for our defences to fall away, for us to experience greater inner peace, healing (making whole), and self-love, as body and mind align with the present. When we have experienced this, we are free to love infinitely and ‘truly’…
Mindfulness Retreat, Isle of Muck, Inner Hebrides, Scotland. Next Retreat 2-9 May £350/£450 – all inclusive
An opportunity to take time out, to relax, reflect and regenerate in Nature, through the practice of being mindful in all that we do – this is a small retreat suitable for beginners and the emphasis is on nurturing our self. Julie attended the retreat on the Isle of Muck in September last year – this is her account of the week, which you may find interesting:
“I felt my week spent on the Isle of Muck was such a fulfilling experience.
With the twice daily meditations in early morning and evening and an hour of deep relaxation in the late afternoon each day, it really felt like time away from the business of life.
With peace, calmness, nature and stunning scenery all around, it really felt like time to unwind and time to look a little deeper into myself.
With some free time in the morning after breakfast, I would stroll down to the seal colony and watch the older seals basking in the sunshine and the younger ones playing in the sea.
On other days I would sit on the beach writing my journal with two friendly horses for company, one even lying down in the sand next to me, relaxing in the sunshine.
We would discuss our journals before lunch and after tea each day in a supportive and relaxed manner looking into our experiences on the Island and other things that came up.
We would take turns to cook lunch (under Jan’s watchful eye!) and a big pot of soup in the evening. Such amazing food every day and then washing up mindfully!
Not only did the Raeburn keep us warm, it was also great for baking soda bread, banana bread and baked potatoes.
As the week went on, we would have silence for part of the morning and then at lunchtime, making us more aware of our food, the care that was taken in preparing it and really tasting it.
Just doing one thing at a time, slowing down and appreciating all that was around, listening to the birds singing at tea time in the garden, walking mindfully on the beach of white sand and gazing up at the stars in the clear night sky.
Going home with more understanding of myself, more experience of meditation and mindfulness, also taking home feelings of peace from the retreat and some wonderful memories.” (Julie, September 2014)