173: Un/Conditional Love

I have this lover. I know that we were destined to meet because our palms bear identical lines and he is my mirror in every sense. At times he is a perfect image of me, and the rest of the time he is my perfect opposite.

However, this does not mean that our relationship is charmed, quite the contrary. You see, Hollywood taught me how to behave when a boyfriend cheated on me or didn’t get along with my best friend, but the challenges we two star-crossed lovers face are of another kind all together. For instance, today we found ourselves in the middle of a lively discussion about the nature of un/conditional love.

Struggling to express a concept I vaguely grasped, it was only a few moments before the effort brought it sharply into focus. I was left speechless at the realization that I understand more about the nature of love than I had been willing to admit. Meditating on my heart chakra, the nature of “unconditional” love always eluded me until today and now, here I am, trying to tease out the fine hairs.

Nature Never Fears

I thought I didn’t know what unconditional love was. I thought that I was utterly selfish, untrained by narcissistic and inept parents and that without an image of what that kind of love looked like, I was never going to find it showing up in my life. Well it turns out to have been there all along, I just wasn’t appreciative. It goes something like this: I am a giver. I am the friend that gets sucked dry by an insatiable desire to help others and a keen healer’s eye. My friendships have all but dissolved in the last year as I came to realize that the only thing I was receiving from them was the feeling of being needed and I sought a healthier start.

I never thought of myself as the doormat, the forgotten giving tree, or the tired old sweater – soft and comfy to the touch but the last thing you look at when a fancy prince comes to town. I knew there was nothing sustainable about this pattern of giving and never replenishing, it is inherently unbalanced. What drove this unsustainable behavior was not insanity (or maybe it was?) but unconditional love.

Sure, the extreme opposite of the sad old sweater love is giving love only when energetic compensation can be expected and that is equally shameful. No one would argue that love out of obligation is inherently less valuable, that’s for sure. But if a person finds himself making promises only to give as much love as he “is able,” does that not speak to an equally dubious condition? It says, “If I have enough energy for myself then I will give you some love in whatever form you require.” Well that is the very definition of conditional now, isn’t it? sunlovehafiz

So what’s our position on conditional love? Is it just a stepping stone to the unconditional variety? Should conditional love be looked down upon? What purpose does it serve? How can we take Mother Nature’s examples of unconditional love and feel their energy in our own lives? I am reminded of the effortless gift of sunlight which will someday drain our great star of all his life force. Does he ever ask, “What if I don’t have enough?”

I can’t tell you how interested I’d be to hear your thoughts. Don’t hesitate to chime in below!

Day 105: Why I’m On Vacation

I started my 365 Day Creativity Challenge more than three months ago and the last post I wrote was all about how wonderfully transformative the whole experience has been. That was a week ago and you better believe these last seven days I’ve felt guilty about not posting. It’s a new kind of guilt, more of a nostalgic, “I actually enjoy doing this” kind of feeling. I didn’t expect to like the challenge I set for myself!

I anticipated a nice friendly blog post today about all the magical transformations I’ve undergone on the first half of my two week vacation in the States but as I’m writing this, a deep ache in my stomach has come up and I feel like it’s my intuition saying, Veronica, take a break for jeebus sake! And it’s not as though I have been neglecting my challenge, I have lots of creativity to post about.

Alright, I hear you, intuition.

cultivate and let go

Exhaustion is not a status symbol.

That is, after all, why I’m on vacation. Every time we do something – anything – out of the ordinary and take a step outside of the lines of our daily routines, we shake up the habitual energy that is going stale around us and we destroy the curtains we accidentally put up between ourselves and God/The Universe/Nature/Spirit.

A vacation doesn’t need to involve a hop across the Atlantic Ocean, vacations can happen every day for whatever amount of time we can spare. Make a thirty second vacation while you’re at your desk. Schedule a five minute vacation after you get home and before you ask your kids how their school day went; then before bed, schedule a fifteen minute luxury getaway to the beautiful realm of your imagination when you fly away into yourself on the wings of meditation.

If you’ve always wanted to meditate but haven’t found the right guides, Oprah and Deepak Chopra are doing a 21 day meditation challenge that is free and incredibly well put-together. I can’t recommend it enough and I hope you’ll join your energy with mine and thousands of other people involved in the daily meditations as we work together to collectively raise the vibrations of the planet. Yesterday was the first day and you’ve got access to that online here for four more days. Here’s a sample from the end of the recording that I transcribed because it’s so darn beautiful:

My security and peace are within.

To keep the essence of today’s meditation with you as you travel through the day, consider making time to check in with your experience of security.

Pause several times throughout the day and notice how you feel. Do you feel centered and grounded? When uncertain moments arise do you feel safe or unsafe, secure or insecure?

Just observe and be with your feelings, pay attention to the moments that you do feel safe and secure. This natural state is one that you can always access and come back to for peace and clarity. The flow of feeling safe is part of your essential being, there to support you and bring you home to yourself – your true self.

Rest Well,

The Sacred Here & Now

Day 94: What Is Enlightnement?

Where Heavens Meet

Where Heavens Meet by Rassouli (Click for Gallery)

Who cares? Really.

Personally, I say: think of your ideal self, the perfect image of health, wealth, and happiness, cut it in half, and that’s the threshold mystics call “enlightenment;” chances are you’re closer than you think.

The unattainable image teachers have painted for centuries of spiritual attainment was meant to keep seekers from idealizing or focusing on something outside of the daily experience and missing the present moment. While that is important, it is also important to recognize how discouraging that is in our modern era of instant gratification and ease. I think it is important to validate my friends and loved ones that they are succeeding as en-lightened beings (people who give off higher quantities of divine light) as often as I push them to try harder. There needs to be a balance.

As for the enlightened person’s moods, which are always the ordinary person’s undoing, they are said to be peaceful, secure, and blissful. Other emotions such as anger or fear may arise in response to the needs of the environment, but do not shake the deeper stillness. An analogy is that you are in a state a bit like the one a child enjoys when playing in the yard while aware that Mother is at home. The child does not think about the mother, yet her presence makes the child feel more secure, able to play wholeheartedly, and more likely to feel cheerful and see beauty in everything.

– Elaine Aron Ph.D.

This is a feeling we can all resonate with, even me, a child who never felt the archetypical “loving mother” sensation and it is comforting for a number of reasons. Firstly we know that, grounded in happiness and joy, we are free to move through the entire range of emotions embodied in the human experience and always return to a calm center. Secondly, fear becomes easily negated with a closely held happiness and third, our freedom allows us unlimited growth, unchecked by fear.

Enlightenment is a feeling we can all recognize and it is something we can all touch. Grounding ourselves in peaceful, secure and blissful emotions using an infinite number of tools – art, music, meditation, love-making, yoga, observing nature, etc. – is all it takes to move toward the deep stillness of a child who moves through life rooted in the present moment. Emotions are the gateway to enlightenment: understand that they come and go and realize that you have the freedom to choose your home base and the whole world will become as carefree and safe as your own back yard.

How do you define enlightenment? Are there different definitions or do you believe in a standard one? What do you think is the path to enlightenment and is it even attainable? Let’s start a conversation.