Love is presented in so many ways throughout our lives that it’s hard to comprehend and understand. During formative years, we look for unconditional and unending love, conscious or unconscious, in relationships with parents, siblings, friends, or another individual in the nuclear circle. For some people, there is a never-ending quest to find this kind of deep love, leaving them feeling unworthy and needing to perform grand gestures to receive the love they desperately desire.
As we grow older, we are exposed to romanticized ideas of love in movies, cultural forms, or religion that can skew the true essence and realistic version of love. Because everyone has their own idea of what love is and what it should look like, there are many different takes on what love means in spirituality, thus making it even more complicated in our minds. Some spiritualists explain that our essence forms our love, while others say that love equals passion and intimacy, resulting in heightened emotions and addiction.
Devotional paths like bhakti yoga, Sufism, or mystical Christianity teach that the way to enlightenment is to fall in love with God and to let the love grow until we become one. In contrast, knowledge-based yogic paths teach us to be suspicious of blissful feelings of love because the actual emotion of love surpasses these feelings. Given the different interpretations, it can be confusing where the truth lies. Still, in spirituality, we can look at love in three different ways: absolute love, individual love, and love as Sadhana (practice).
This is the kind that depicts love as a source of everything. You can’t create it, and you can’t have it; it is just something that grows inside you when you open up to another person, yourself, or your life. This great love provides nourishment and meaning and helps you see the beauty of everything around you. At some point in everyone’s life, they will experience it. It could be in your childhood, surrounded by nature, with a partner, or a bonding moment with another person. These powerful moments can be remembered forever. You will recall the spiritual power, the feeling of deep connection, and in some cases, how it changed your life. At this point in time, the great love finds a home within you. While some would assume that they are a vessel of this absolute love, they are just a channel it flows through, but when it finds you, you will know it and feel the intense emotions within your being.
When people feel strong emotions of love, they are projected onto others, even though they come from within. However, the yogic view suggests that any experience of human love is just tiny glimpses of absolute love. It isn’t until love is processed through the human psyche that it presents itself as something specific. When our thoughts and feelings try to make sense of what is happening within, we tell ourselves that love comes and goes and that we only feel it when the people we love are around us. Essentially, our minds set us up to think that love is outside of us and that some people and places are loved while others are not. We are also wired to tell ourselves that love comes in different forms, including; maternal love, romantic love, love of culture, love of nature, compassionate love, sexual love, and the love of relaxing and getting cozy after a long day, but it comes from within. Practicing yoga can help you stop differentiating these forms of love by bringing you closer to the love that lives inside you.
Love as Sadhana (practice)
Love as Sadhana helps us to connect what we believe love to be and what it actually is. We practice love through actions and attitudes that evoke kindness, acceptance, and togetherness with the people around us and from within to tap into our spirituality. While you can’t always feel your most confident, you can be compassionate to yourself and allow yourself the time and space to eliminate negative comments or thoughts that may bring you down. You can’t always connect with another person, but you can listen to them when they are talking to you and give them the respect they deserve as human beings. You may not feel grateful to someone, but saying thank you goes a long way. Ultimately, offering the best version of yourself to others, even when you don’t feel like doing it, is integral to practicing love. It’s not about hiding behind a smile; it’s about showing emotional awareness and finding it in your heart to act with love.
How do you find love?
Building spirituality from within requires loving yourself first. Be open and honest with your feelings; don’t hold back in expressing your love to others. When you make it a habit to say “I love you,” other people will respond to you similarly. Love isn’t easy, and everyone makes mistakes. Finding it in your heart to forgive and move on from past hurt will allow you to find love within. Finally, if you want to see change, you need to create it. Show compassion for yourself and practice self-love. Start seeing the world for its positives instead of its negatives, and you’ll start seeing the beauty and love in everything surrounding you.