Better to Love

The other day,  thoughts about an acquaintance came to mind and I felt a flash of warmth toward him. Then almost immediately, I recalled that he had recently done something ‘wrong’.   As soon as that thought occurred,  my warm feelings shut down because it seemed that he did not ‘deserve’ my affection.  After all, people who do wrong don’t deserve affection do they?

And then, a moment after that, I realized how I was placing conditions on my caring – my friendliness.   I saw how that habitual pattern keeps my own awareness trapped in resentment, anger or indifference.  How the judgement that it’s not OK to feel warmth was keeping me from warmth of my own heart.

And it felt lousy to shut down in this way.  It felt lousy to replace the affection with suspicion and resentment. To turn off my good feelings.  So, having caught myself, I used the various methods to release this habitual pattern and reconnected to the warmth that was trying to express.

It seems to me that there is a basic human impulse to love, to give love, to feel loving.   And I’m speaking of love in its most fundamental sense … warmth, affection, friendliness, caring, compassion.   We are ‘wired’ to love and are at our best, feel our best, when we let ourselves do so.

But often we mess up that impulse.  We place all sorts of conditions on our affection.  For example:  I can’t feel warmth toward someone who doesn’t measure up to my standards.  I can’t feel affection toward someone who criticized me.   I can’t love someone who doesn’t return that love. 

And when we cut ourselves off from our impulse to love, it turns into a wanting to love.  A yearning to give/feel affection mixed with a sense of lack or inability to do so.  The natural flow of love is distorted into a kind of craving, grasping after … right along with a feeling of being blocked or frustrated in that attempt.

And then that frustration turns into all kinds of negativity:   why can’t I … what’s wrong with me …  what’s wrong with her …  why am I so alone …   and on and on.  We get caught in a struggle of wanting to love and be loved, right along with the sense that we can’t let it happen, it’s not appropriate, we are unable to, and will never be able.

Much easier and healthier to release the conditions we place on affection.  Much better to open to that sense of ‘no’ and let it move through our awareness.  And then to simply give free rein to that impulse to love, whenever it arises.

– Ryu

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