Ever been there? Recently on my flight back home, the pilot announced a landing challenge. Surrounded by unexpected, dense fog, he tells us to fasten our seat belts and prepare for considerable circling above the airport until inclement conditions clear or another landing strip is located. And yes, the tarmac is crowded with grounded planes. In this tight spot, who wants to run out of fuel?
Sometimes the very thing you want is held at bay by conditions beyond your control. Take love, for instance. As Valentine's Day approaches, love is in the air, and Madison Avenue is up to its tricks. Promising romance with every purchase of American Beauty roses, chocolates, diamonds, or whatever, we get distracted from what really creates the space for love to land in the human heart. We stray away from the basics. In some cases, we forget what the basics are. Especially when it seems we can't "get through" to someone we love.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that flowers and sweets aren't grand, that cards aren't welcome. What I am saying, though, is that when it comes to expressing the truth in our heart, love cannot be commissioned. Love cannot be purchased. Love must have an open space, a safe place in which to land, tell its truth, and have room to breathe without demands, or the need for defense. Love requires, as well, adequate fuel.
Back to Love's Basics:
1. What Gets in the Way? Love does not hesitate. When we hesitate delivering our heart truth, consider self doubt as the culprit. We only hedge expressing love when we forget who we are, and the miracle that we are, here, today, witnessing sunrise and sunset. We forget we come from a long ancestry imbued with purpose, that we are "... the answer to our ancestors' dreams." Our forgetfulness is the fog, the inclement weather obscuring heartfelt exchange. If someone is too frightened to receive our love, that is their problem, not ours.
2. Opportunity Begins With Setbacks. When love can't land, the props are kicked out from under us. As Meister Eckhart said: "God strips us of our props." What this means is that when you are having a tough time giving or receiving love, the blockage becomes your opportunity to expand your relationship to love, by shedding what you think you need, and deepening your trust. Hard to believe, I know. How can pain be a good thing? Pain is messenger, as surely as is joy. Joy sounds better, I know. Who wants pain when joy is available? The tough reality is that pain seems to get our attention faster when it comes to learning lessons. Healing body or psyche requires facing the source of hurt that's gotten in the way.
3. Behind Every Blockage Resides a Love Wound. The heart is an autonomous organ. Symbolically and physically, its nature is one of exchange: giving out, taking in. The heart is an instrument of balance. How wise. Without receiving what's at "its door," there will only be stagnation and ultimately destruction of life. The heart takes in, rests, gives out, rests, and receives anew. So must we. The seed of love lives in what we know as "our heart," and ours is to cultivate the process of its blossoming. Or, as Agapi put it last week (in my interview with her titled "Unbinding Our Heart") we are here to "Come to know the truth in our own heart."
If we avoid this one supreme task in life, we fall into the abyss of increasing doubt and debilitating temptations. Our love plane has a hard time landing. As Rumi put it so well:
"... only Love dissolves doubts ... "
4. Activating the Heart Cure. How do we activate love, which dissolves doubts? The answer has to do with your willingness to get involved, to pour your heart into what matters, 100 percent. The Master Teacher, Jesus, said it: "Become as little children." I doubt He meant become naive, street-dumb. More likely, the suggestion has to do with what Confucius taught: "Wherever you go, go with all your heart."
A hint from the past: Remember those early days of Valentine construction? It was not a time for holding back! Who cared if the glue was smeared? Who cared if the heart was unsymmetrical, or the candy hearts not perfectly aligned, or the creation ill-fitted the envelope? The point was not perfection, but pure invention. While it may have appeared you were making yours for someone else, here's the truth: The process itself opened our own heart. What happened after that was none of our business.
Gifts that we remember giving the most are those with which we've poured our hearts. The handmade and heartfelt can never be replaced by drive-through express line last minute purchases. Love is not generic. It is personal. Eventually, the personal gives way to the transpersonal. Love begins with you.
So, how about it?
5. Taking the Remedy. The available measure of love we have to offer others is determined by the amount we allow ourselves to receive and know. You sent many Valentines as a child. There is one person, however, that you left out: YOU. This year, do something new. Before you launch the day for others, break out of the box. You will resist, but do it anyway. Discover something valuable in little ol' you. Warning: Do not think about doing this. You will only put it off. Do it now!
Make yourself a Valentine, the old-fashioned way. Take your time. Get in touch with how great it would be to receive it from someone you love. Now, mail it to yourself. No joke. If you tell yourself you are too short on time to make one (really?) go ahead and buy one. Just make sure you inscribe a personally-cherishing message from your best self, to the other you who holds lingering doubts. I "triple dog dare you!" Open it Feb. 14. Take your time to take in the message. What keeps love from landing is the machinery behind our monkey mind that tells us we need to play "cool," or feign indifference or maintain the skeptic attitude. None of this nourishes the heart but only keeps what we want the most at bay, like the planes circling overhead.
Love Letter for the One Who Doubts and Wants to Let Doubt Go.
Read this only if you know you are withholding love from yourself.
Dear Little One,
I know your tender heart. For over 2 million years, I have watched your light in the world, long before you were born into this particular body. When I see the stars at night, I am reminded of the you that shines, despite times of darkness, which have secretly troubled you. As the sun rises each morning in the east, I rejoice in your new chance, your expanded opportunity to awaken, to remember who you really are. You are not your monkey mind. This is only the part of you that's afraid. You are more than your fear. It is time to trust. Give up hesitation. Express your heart today. Tomorrow is too late. Love lives now, not just on Valentine's Day. Whenever you give yourself permission to relax, to lie down the burden of what is not yours to heal or fix, then you begin to cherish the love flowing through you, expressing it in harmony with your true and hidden nature. This alone is the potion that heals the love wounds you've received and defended and kept hidden.
Let it all go. Allow the props to be stripped away. A brave and tender heart resides beneath your fear, longing for permission to guide you, love you. Its wisdom way is yours each time you turn within. Take heart. Have a heart for you. It really is in the darkest places that the riches of love break through the remains of the day.
For those days, when you forget who you really are, when you refuse to forgive yourself for being human, turn to the letter you sent yourself this year: your very first Valentine to you from the wise one within you.
Your turn: Describe the best love message you've ever sent or received. If you could write a love letter to a stranger who needs it, what would it say? I'm listening!
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