What is love? Love is when someone believes in you, even when you made mistake, even when you didn’t fulfill expectations, even when that someone is not agreeing with your life orientations and choices. Love is when there is no reason for loving, when there is no motivation, when you are accepted just the way you are. Despite the fact that we might have disappointed someone, that someone is not rejecting us. Love is the state of being. It emerges from inside, from the core, and through the heart spreads throughout the entire body from where it keeps spreading on our environment. We are made of it, we are searching for it and we cannot live without it.
What is not love? Love is not conditioned by your actions neither by you fulfilling others’ expectations and desires. Love is not emotion; it is something much bigger than emotion. Love is not when somebody is asking you to be something you are not. Love is when your essence is recognized and loved just the way it is. Love is acceptance.
Here are just some of the attempts to answer the questions what love is and what love is not. While trying to define this powerful force, I am encountering my limiting experiences and mind. It is very possible that every one of us will define love from own experience, and that those definitions will be different for most of us. It is often the case that this experience contains in it, besides joy and positive that love brings, the wounded part of us.
As the plant grows upwards, towards the sky, and downwards in its roots, we as humans also grow in two directions. Our physical manifestation, the body, is like root which grows downwards and expands in the physical dimension. Simultaneously, due to liberating movement, we are pulled upwards, where we reach beyond ourselves, be it towards animals, other humans or spirit world.
After lower three chakras, which are primarily occupied by earthly I, its physical existence (first chakra), its feelings (second chakra), and its way of thinking (third chakra), we arrive in much more spacious area of the heart, which includes, besides I, also the other. The expansion that includes oneself and the other, or many others, gives the heart chakra unique place on the Rainbow Bridge (middle of all seven chakras). In order to make space for the other in the heart, one must first make space for the self. And here comes into being one of the most interesting phenomena: through work on myself, and through the work I do to support the others on the journey inward, the final point we all arrive, through many different ways, is the lack of love towards to self. Every human being has the place in himself that he cannot accept, place where there is very little tolerance, patience and understanding for some aspects of the Self. I believe that this is the ultimate cause of all physical and mental die-eases.
Let’s go back to the upward and downward current. In the center of our being these currents meet and the balance comes into being in the heart. From balance comes love, from love come relationships; from relationships transformation of the ego (which is the center of attention in the lower chakras) into wider consciousness. The practical example of this is falling in love. When we fall in love, all defenses disappear (at least for sometime), we leave the selfish points of view of the world, and the interests of the loved person become our own. This expansion of the consciousness, on the other hand, brings us in the new relationship with the self, to which we now relate on more profound way.
When we are accepted with love by the other person, rejected parts of us start to emerge because they feel safe. As a result, even more spaciousness inside is created and capacity to hold everything increases. This acceptance sets the bases of the expansion in the fifth chakra, since only through the acceptance of the self can we find our truth.
Love brings us to great spiritual awakening, and the loss of it throws us in deep despair. That loss can be so hard and great that we can feel cut off of our divine nature – the state very hard to tolerate after the expansion that love brought us. After love is gone, we find ourselves again in our past, our wound, our needs and emotional process. We are forced to face all of this so we can move on deeper in the mystery of the self. In any case, expansion or loss, love forces us to grow, either bringing us in the contact with our own light or darkness.
When love contains in itself the condition, demand or expectation it is called conditional love. When this condition is insisted upon, especially during the childhood (which sets the base for the rest of our lives), we encounter specific ego structure, named by Alexander Lowen, the Psychopathic character structure. The developmental arrest happens around age of four, but it can happen later as well. There are few situations that create the ground for this character structure to develop.
Let’s say we have parents who do not have direct way of relating to one another. They are used to, for whatever reason, to get what they want through manipulation. After the birth of a child, starts quiet, and then “lauder” tendency of one of the parents to be special for the child and to have its attention, more than the other parent. As the child grows up, so the need for “specialness” (which is now planted in the child) grows and it often comes from the parent of the opposite sex.
Simultaneously, it is very possible that the other parent, usually of the same sex, becomes jealous of the child and rejects it, while specialness from the other side grows. That specialness, in the young mind of the child, is confused for love. From that moment on, our life, later the choice of carrier or partner, is directed towards achieving and maintaining that specialness. Some examples are: I have to do something that nobody does” or “if I have ordinary job, I have to do it on the extraordinary way, I have to stand out.” Me, myself and I…sometimes known as narcissistic character. In truth, that is only external picture.
What actually happened inside of this person? The real self is seduced and betrayed. The real self that has needs, weaknesses and strengths is rejected and all consciousness is directed towards idealized self that others demand and put in front of us while we are children (while we continue to do the same as adults). Since idealized self is never possible to attain (whatever we do is never enough to get us there…plus in reality it does not exist, it is an idea), the sense of failure is something that gets implanted in the heart and soul. Even if from outside, it looks like we are successful and motivated, from inside we are struggling from the sense of profound worthlessness. In truth, the real self is disvalued in the name of idealized self. That is how we keep seducing ourselves into the false self believing that false self is one that is accepted and loved. Until, at one point in life, thanks to different types of crisis, we don’t understand that we are betrayed and that we keep betraying ourselves.
In this moment we encounter the rage because we are cheated, because things are done behind our back, because life was unjust and false. We feel worthless and that hurts even more, while at the same time there is no way that we can let down the guard and let people support us (or better to say, we cannot imagine taking in the support that is offered). We learned that we do not need anybody and that we can do it all by ourselves. We reject ourselves and the need to need somebody.
This type of defense is very “hard”, energetically it feels like armor over the chest and between the shoulder blades. The holding of deep tension in the body is chronical: we are all the time on guard, because we never know when and what will get us. Trust is a big issue and real intimacy is almost nonexistent. Sexuality is often used as a way of control and manipulation. When, through intimacy, it gets closer to the other, the psychopathic structure will become anxious and disturbed and will have tendency to distant itself and most probably go in a search for another partner. Closeness is too much to bear. Mechanism “I will reject you before you reject me” gives the sense of power and safety.
The healing path of this character is gradual. After we open to the possibility (just possibility) towards forgiveness, the organic and non demanding process towards the real self can finally start. This structure all the time looks for its way, but it is pretty confused about finding it.
When, with the help of the presence of the other people (for the beginning trustworthy therapist) the defensive wall “softens”, the big heart full of love comes out. The most healing for this character comes from the community of people, many persons that now can reflect our real self back to us. Than we start to find the specialness and difference in everyday, ordinary things. Truly, it is a great relief to come down from the high wall of defense and be amongst the people again.
The area of heart is so spacious. While writing this article, I would like to mention the loss that has great impact on the heart; the grief, which when not processed leaves the crater in the heart chakra; about forgiveness and big resistance towards it; about love and ability to hold it all; about acceptance of things the way they are….all of this is far beyond the scope of this article.
Therefore I leave you in the unknown; I leave you in that big mystery we all carry in ourselves, known as the human heart. I leave you in love that connects us all, love that contains in itself the quality of freedom. And take a few moments and pause. Ask yourself: who I still didn’t forgive? Where is the deep anxiety and heaviness I carry in my chest, coming from? Who do I need to ask for forgiveness?
With these questions starts one of the hardest, and at the same time one of the most rewarding tasks in the process of self-realization.
Be in your heart, be in love.