Some of us are looking for love. Some of us have found it and then lost it. For some it makes us fall, and for others it makes us more centered. It inspires hearts for those that feel it and questions for those that don’t.
What is true love? How do you get it? How do you know when you have it? And how do you hold on to it?
What it looks like
To me, true love is that which grounds you and centers you, allowing you to express more clearly who you are and bringing you closer to who you want to be. Love that takes you away from that which you value is not true. It’s not just how you feel about someone. It’s the person that looks back at you in the mirror when you’re in a relationship. Do you like that person?
For example, what do you think of the reflection of the person anxiously checking their phone every few minutes for a text, laughing nervously, sacrificing their dreams, or drifting from friends and family. In a relationship, what’s the character of your voice? Sugary and pleasing? Do you own what you say and do?
You may be thinking this sounds a bit too thoughtful and possibly boring for love, but feeling both grounded and passionate are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, passion and inspiration are necessary for the health of one’s entire being and the relationship. Look for feeling steady and blissful, sthira and sukha, as you grow with the person that nurtures you further than you could go alone. The passion is in the depth of the connection, not in the drama.
To me, love also looks like giving. It’s an openness of the heart that blasts through the koshas (sheaths of man) and blurs the boundaries of where I end and you begin. It’s such an awesome feeling when “me” gets big enough to encompass “you.”
I’m recalling a Billie Holiday song “everything I have is yours, … my life, my … all.”
Attraction and fragmentation
It’s important to recognize why we are attracted to certain people and why a pattern of attraction often exists. Marriage counselor Dr. Harville Hendrix offers a fascinating perspective in his book “Getting the love you want.”
Essentially, our subconscious mind suffers childhood injuries from a perceived lack of love from our caregivers, which leave us insecure and fragmented (because as a child, no matter how attentive our caregivers, it’s impossible for them to always meet our needs). The people we find ourselves attracted to subconsciously remind us of our caregivers. We are drawn to them in effort to replay and complete the stories of our wounded past, so that we can feel whole again. This cycle of attraction repeats itself lover to lover unless we recognize these tendencies and what’s behind them.
For example, a young boy who fruitlessly seeks his overwhelmed mother’s attention grows to become a man who is subconsciously attracted to women that are too busy for him. He’s looking for a happily ever after to his childhood story by at last receiving the nurturing he needs from such a person. Unfortunately, however, he unwittingly set’s himself up for inevitable disappointment dating a women who don’t make time for him.
Ayurvedic wisdom reminds us that the most important relationship in a person’s life is the one they have with themSelves. The divine Self. The pure, unchanging part of us that communes with divinity above and all around us.
If we are unable to know this perfect part of us, we search for completion in others. However, the nature of searching outside ourselves, itself, is the problem. We can only heal ourselves by allowing the light of our perfect souls to illuminate through the layers of man, shining light and clarity upon old hurt and dissolving memory into the present moment.
When we shine, people flock. Energetically, spiritually whole people are magnetic. As such, you may not want to date everyone who comes your way, but only when you are working on being your very best and are centered and fulfilled, will you attract someone you can mutually inspire.
Falling, building, and maintaining
Falling in love makes you sick and stupid. It’s an incredible high, but I’m skeptical of its truth. If it blinds you, you won’t really know the person you are opening your heart to and you won’t be able to see if you like your own reflection. When the mania is over and in your heart you have committed to a person you don’t know, you have to grasp to revive a love you don’t recognize. It will never quite be what it was, because it was founded in your imagination and projection. Reality has a hard time matching a dream.
However, if you take the time to build a relationship and slowly unfurl your heart, you’ll embark on a true discovery of the other person, what makes them happy, and what inspires connection between you two. There’s no fall, crash, burn, and resurrection – just a blooming happiness and awareness.
Moreover, it is in knowing and doing what satisfies and inspires the other that the fragrance of love is maintained. Love is connection, so an understanding of how a person experiences love is vital – learning their love language. Also, communication about where you are and where you want to go is necessary so that you both know where to support each other — growing together rather than drifting apart.
Loving with awareness
I don’t think there is room for prepositions in love. You’re not in it, and it certainly shouldn’t cause you to fall into it. (I’m just playing with words.) What I mean is that love is not a place or something you move towards. Even though we talk about having it or getting it back, it’s not a possession. It’s a state of being – “is-ness.” It starts with the patience, tolerance, compassion, forgiveness, and love you have for yourself and extends outward from there.
Love has a purpose — spiritual growth. The person we choose to be our life partner is the person who is the soul’s mate or friend on that journey of growth. Such a friend of the soul, guides us by holding up the mirror of truth as reflected in their consciousness, allowing us to see that which we may want to bury deep away from our awareness. Such a connection of the soul is eternal and smolderingly passionate. In knowing another so deeply, there is a vulnerability that opens the heart and returns us to innocence.
Happy Valentine’s Day,
–Nisha Khanna M.D.
I never feel more given to
than when you take from me –
when you understand the joy I feel
giving to you.
And you know my giving isn’t done
to put you in my debt,
but because I want to live the love
I feel for you.
To receive with grace
may be the greatest giving.
There’s no way I can separate
When you give to me,
I give you my receiving.
When you take from me, I feel so
— “Given To” (1978) by Ruth Bebermeyer from the album Given To.
© 2014 Nisha Khanna. All rights reserved. Please note that this content is intended for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice.