Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. –Rumi
Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt are a married couple who do marriage counseling. They realized at one point that their own marriage was falling apart, and that, in their counseling practice, their clients were mirroring the very problem they themselves were having. Life has a way of doing that.
No matter how much love Helen offered, Harville was unable to completely accept it. That’s when they realized that many people need to learn to receive love. Their book, Receiving Love, is an account of how they arrived at this insight, and their suggestions for solving this issue.
Like many other professionals in the field of psychology these days, Hendrix and Hung trace most people’s ability or inability to receive love to their treatment by parents and other adults when they were young children. I have no doubt that this is true, but as one who has experienced recall of past lives, I know that we tend to come into our physical lifetimes with karmic issues that need to be solved. That’s why we are here, and as Soul, we have agreed to be put into a situation in which these past-life issues can be recognized, faced and solved.
A friend of mine had a mother who was pretty mean to him for much of his life, so when she died, there was little love lost. But one night, he met her in a vivid dream, where she came up to him and said, “Did I do the right thing? Was I hard enough on you?” For a moment, he was shocked, thinking, “You mean, you did this on purpose?” He drew breath to give her a very heavy piece of his mind, intending to really let her have it.
Suddenly, he was given a huge insight into his relationship with his mother. Yes, she had been mean to him, but there was a reason for it. Her harping and criticizing had the effect of making him a stronger person, just like resistance machines make muscles stronger by putting a physical obstacle into play. Basically, his mother’s job in this lifetime had been to provide resistance training for Soul. As he was still drawing breath to berate his smother for her cruelty to him, he realized that he had agreed to his mother’s treatment of him before he came into this life. Instead of berating her, he said, “You did a good job, Mom.”
The point of the story, of course, is that no matter how horrible our parents’ treatment of us might have been, we no doubt agreed to bear it on some level as Soul before we were born. Why? Because it set into motion a situation in which we could look at our own angers and fears. Soul always comes into physical life with the intention of addressing once and for all certain karmic issues. Sometimes we are successful and we can then move on. Many Souls, though, end up addressing the problem only partially, or not at all, which means another go-round on the Wheel of Life. Death solves nothing. Our issues remain with us from lifetime to lifetime until we are willing to do what it takes to deal with them head-on.
What is true love? If you think of God’s love as the highest example of love that there is, you’d have to say that love is totally unconditional. God’s love is showered upon all of us: rich and poor, upstanding citizens and criminals, liberals and conservatives, educated and uneducated, persons of faith – all faiths – as well as persons of no faith. It is showered on people of all nationalities, ethnicities, and races, male and female, heterosexual, homosexual, intersexual, and asexual. It is showered on the most innocent of babies as well as the likes of Adolf Hitler or Osama bin Laden. Of course, not everyone accepts God’s love.
This is true of human love, too. As crazy as it may seem, we have trouble accepting completely unconditional love. And why? Because we have trouble giving it. It behooves all of us to ask this question: Am I willing to give love totally unconditionally? Can I give my partner love whether he’s in a good mood or a bad one? Can I give my partner love whether she stays at her ideal weight or gains weight? Can I love my partner unconditionally, even if he has roving eyes? Can I give my partner unconditional love even when she has just totaled the car?
In A Course in Miracles, it is pointed out that the true opposite of love is not hate. It’s fear! And if you think about it, all our barriers to love have at their core one thing: fear. A number of spiritual teachers have pointed out that the root of all sadness, anger, guilt, judgment, and limitation is fear. The obvious next step is to get rid of the fear or let it go, but first we must realize that fear is a cry for love. The only thing that will completely dissolve our fear is love, and that is paradoxically what we are rejecting! It’s a vicious cycle!
The only way we can drop those barriers is to relax, and one of the best ways to do this is to learn meditation or contemplation. It doesn’t even matter what technique you use, as long as you choose one that works for you. Some people listen to soft music or crystal singing bowls, while others chant a spiritually charged word. Some sit on the floor in a lotus position while others sit in a straight-backed chair or lie down in bed. Some close their eyes while others stare into a candle flame. The point is to do whatever allows you to achieve total relaxation.
Whatever style of meditation or contemplation you choose, give it a try for at least 20 minutes daily, and for at least four weeks. If, at the end of the first week, you are not making progress, try tweaking your routine a bit to see if a slight change will help. If you are not making any progress at all after four weeks, try another method. Be persistent and consistent. Try doing your meditations at the same time each day. Create your space carefully and ensure the cooperation of others to see that you are not disturbed. Turn off your phone and other electronics for the duration of your meditation. You may have to get up earlier or go to bed later in order to reduce distractions. If you get cold, cover yourself with a blanket. If you are hot, turn on a fan. Do whatever makes you comfortable and takes your mind off your physical body. Go within and relax. If you fall asleep, it’s OK.
The goal, however, is to remain conscious, but to become aware of ourselves as Soul. You may have any number of inner experiences during this state, which is very close to the state of lucid dreaming, in which you are aware that you are dreaming. (They say the difference between total relaxation during meditation, which is called Yoga Nidra by students of yoga, and lucid dreaming is the amount of awareness of the inner dream versus the outer physical environment.)
When you are totally relaxed, that’s when our hearts and minds are most open to the love of Divine Spirit. The more you practice meditation, the easier it gets to go into this relaxed state, to the point where you can close your eyes and be there almost instantly, and a 30- or 60-second pause will begin to do as much good as spending 20 minutes or even an hour in full meditation. The more open we are to God’s love, the more open we will become to the love of our fellow human beings. Where love enters, fear cannot remain. 🙂