What is the Definition of Unconditional Love?
For many of us, our conditioning has taught us that to “love” is to be infatuated by someone or something. We have been taught that we need to like what we love so much, that we become identified with it. How many of us have really sat down, and discovered for ourselves what it means to love? Love is nurturing, patient, kind, silent, assertive, passionate, strong, fierce, and accepting, as well as many more definitions both linguistically and in silence. This word “accepting,” can also play tricks on our subconscious depending on how we define it. We do not need to like everything, however, unconditional love certainly does involve the process of accepting what is. Acceptance lives in the space between craving and aversion, it lives in a space of watchfulness. So what if the state of unconditional love is not characterized by the craving aspect of the mind, but rather, of the silent space between craving and aversion that simply accepts what is?
This question has come up to me several times in my journey, especially around holding space and having compassion for those whose words or actions have caused me pain. In my past, I would take so much responsibility for every interaction in my life, seeing no difference between the world within and outside of myself. Although I see the veracity in this perception, the understanding that others have their own experiences, karma, and projections, seemed to slip through the cracks. With the thought in mind that we are all of one source, I would continuously practice compassion from a limited definition of what love is, and allow myself to be mistreated, unknowingly allowing my own karmas and misperceptions to remain stagnant in my consciousness. This all changed as I began to see unconditional love as the space between craving and aversion. Unconditional love is pure acceptance- I don’t need to like or dislike what I see around me, but rather, to simply love it as an element of life itself. Love is much more than being infatuated, which is linked to craving. From this definition, our relationships with ourselves and our lives are constantly on a rollercoaster, the highs become so high and the lows become so low. So what is the space in between? This is joy, surrender, acceptance, and unconditional love.
Through meditation and spiritual practices such as yoga, we slowly become more aware of the space between our thoughts, allowing ourselves to be open to the possibility of simply noticing life within us and without us, beyond craving and aversion. Both of these tendencies are elements of the egoic mind, which we have been conditioned to believe is the truth. Although our experiences during the fluctuations of the monkey mind are our truths, they are still under imaginary circumstances of maya (illusion). Unconditional love lies in the space beyond illusion, where we can see things simply as they are, without a label, a liking, a disliking, only a noticing, a loving, and an accepting presence is needed. During the process of experiencing self-acceptance, expanding the space between my thoughts, unconditional love arose in a myriad of emotions that I did not previously experience as love. Unconditional love arose as fear, it arose as anger in guttural screams, it arose in tears, endless sobs of pain and anguish. Unconditional love arose as laughter, without any reason, it arose as peace. I felt it as it tingled throughout my body, I noticed where it was going to heal. It arose as my shoulders softening, my shins and feet releasing the tensions they had held on to so tightly. Unconditional love opened a space for all of the human emotional experience for me to love, nurture, and accept as a part of us all. Unconditional love arose as ferocity, it arose as truth, and it arose as relaxation too. All of these experiences only came within the space of letting go of craving and aversion and diving nose first into the fullest experience of the human life.
How does this pertain to our relationships? Well, when we see someone we “like” or “dislike,” whether it is because of their look, words, actions, or even our vibe about them, these experiences are all coming from illusion. Unconditional love lives beyond this space, regardless of the persons’ vibe, thoughts, actions, words, or otherwise. As we begin to experience the space between, within ourselves, we can slowly experience it around others. Being able to experience someone else’s vibe, which has been constructed by their emotions, thoughts, words, and actions, is the very basis of experiencing energy, which we all have access to. Yet, how many of us commit to experiencing ourselves and others beyond all of these experiences, if we so identify ourselves by our thoughts, feelings, and actions, of course we will identify others on the same basis and develop craving or aversion towards them. As we hold space for ourselves, without craving or aversion towards our current state, slowly, we can experience acceptance and unconditional love. The practice of yoga and meditation is to expand this experience so that we can live in this space between throughout our lives.
If you are interested in deepening your experience of unconditional love through the transformative practices of meditation, reiki, and yoga, let’s stay in touch about upcoming retreats! For more information, check out https://www.theinsideworld.org/retreats/, as well as https://www.facebook.com/events/1905931753045563/ for more information on my upcoming transformational retreat in Bali in January, 2019.