To find yourself
is to lose yourself.
To know our true Self, we must cease to identify with the illusory identity, which feels separated from the whole under the survival instincts fed by the ego. For the real to come, the false must leave.
Love is complicated. Just like the Zen koan above, it seems so easy but then when you really get into it you find out how actually challenging and raw it can be.
Humans have this innate desire to be in relationships and form deep connections with their loved ones. And yet often our own wounding gets in the way of our ability to be open to receive and give that love and connection. One minute you might feel fully connected and open and the next you are fully embroiled in misunderstandings, miscommunication or conflict.
In these moments of misunderstanding your heart center shuts down and you are no longer able to connect with your partner in a loving or open-hearted way. This shutting down of the heart center not only blocks you from giving and receiving love but it also blocks you from a connection to yourself, your creativity and your ability to move forward in a grounded way.
There are many ways that wounds occur throughout an individual’s lifetime and the ones that I most often see in my counseling and life coaching work with individuals are those which come from our childhood experiences.
As children, if we don’t receive the connection and validation that we desire and need a wound occurs and we begin to shut off aspects of ourselves to avoid pain. This disconnection or lack of validation can and is often passed down from generation to generation.
Often psychologists refer to family as the “holding” environment much like when a baby is still in the safe environment of the womb. As the baby enters into the physical world, the home environment or family becomes another “holding space” or safe place in which the baby and child may grow, learn and explore within safe boundaries.
But as stated above, we don’t always get the feedback, encouragement or safety and support that we need, so we retreat — we hold back on our exploration. We shut down our heart center, and we shut down getting to know ourselves on a deeper level as it is just too painful.
As we become conscious of our responses, retraction or opening, up we begin to see where our pain is. Once we begin to see where our pain is we can start to offer ourselves more compassion, safety and love, thus giving ourselves the support that we may not have received in the past. When we give ourselves this much needed support, we begin to be more open with our partners and loved ones as well as the rest of our community.
Below is an exercise from John Welwood’s book Perfect Love: Imperfect Relationships. This exercise is designed to help you experience the energy of you own longing for love as a way to open up your capacity to receive love.
- Notice some way in which you feel cut off from love right now.
- How does this separation from love affect you in your body?
- In this feeling of separation, notice if there is any longing which, can be more connected with love.
- Now turn toward this inner longing and let yourself feel it directly.
- Open to the energy of the longing as an experience in your body. Drop all focus on the outer object or on ideas about fulfilling the longing. Stay with the energy of your deep wish for love. Let that longing touch you.
- What happens when you open to longing? What’s your experience?