One of the things that most people are at least a little confused about is love. This is probably because we take it for granted, until it is gone—then it becomes very important, even obsessive. Many times I have heard these questions: What is love anyways? How do I know if I have ever really loved anyone? How can love hurt so much?
Actually, love doesn’t hurt; it is the absence of love that hurts. This is because it is so necessary for our health and happiness. We strive for material possessions, thinking our happiness comes from what we have. In truth, there is little happiness without love, no matter how much wealth you have, and love isn’t something you can buy.
What is love?
Love is an energy we exchange with God and each other in several different ways. Love operates on different levels, physical, mental and spiritual, and has many different flavours. The dictionary describes love as “an intense feeling of tender affection and compassion”. But love is much more than this.
Love can calm us or inspire intense passion. People who love and are loved exchange energy highly beneficial to the human body, mind and spirit. Wholistic medicine regards the vibration of love (even impersonal love) as nourishment for the body that heals and harmonizes. The incredible feeling of love produces an energy that makes the heart strong and the whole body vibrate to a higher frequency. Even the “flavours” of love, such as romance, kindness, compassion, generosity and altruism, all have a strengthening effect on the body.
The need for love
On a spiritual level, love is food for the soul. It produces oneness, intimacy and complete safety. It inspires acts of heroism. Love is that place where we lose the ego and become egoless. It is service, sacrifice, loyalty and devotion. It’s being a cheerleader for someone, even if the form of the relationship changes. Love is something we need to grow into good human beings and to be happy.
All humans have a need for love. It is necessary for health and wellness. We need attention and recognition. Attention is a focus of love energy. It is often said that negative attention is better than no attention. This energy need is very obvious in lovers and babies. Babies are totally dependent on their mothers. The more they are loved, the more they thrive. Without this constant exchange of love energy, babies will waste away and die. Nature is wise in that the hormones involved in pregnancy and the breastfeeding process create “love chemicals” in the brains of both mother and baby, thus keeping the energy exchange constant. This facilitates the bonding so necessary for mental health and the ability to create loving relationships in adult life. In this way we also gain the capacity in our brains to more easily produce the chemicals of love—which, in turn, raises our capacity to love.
Love is an inside job
We can ultimately produce all the love we need inside ourselves. It isn’t something outside of us that makes us love. Love is a feeling we create in our own brains from the chemicals our brain produces. Just thinking about someone or something you love makes your body strong and helps satisfy the need to feel love because it releases the love energy already within you.
The capacity to love
The capacity to give and receive love varies from person to person. Many spiritual systems work on the premise that the more loving a person is, the more spiritually evolved he or she is. If you look closely at the human beings on our planet, you might notice that many people don’t seem to have the capacity to really love. They may be nice people, but not very highly evolved. They just don’t have the soul development or the psychological development to love a lot.
Many of us think that if we could just find the right person, magic would happen and we would have all the love we think we need or want. But this is a myth. Only the spiritually evolved with a high capacity to love will have this experience. If you can’t receive love, how can you have a perfect love? If you can’t give it, how can it be returned? Love behaviours don’t just spring into being. They are learned and practiced.
When it is hard to love
People operate out of the belief that there is something wrong or lacking in them and that is why they weren’t loved growing up or aren’t loved now. But the truth is they attract people that can’t love, or were born to parents who don’t have the capacity to love them the way they needed to thrive. You can’t get blood out of a turnip. You can’t make someone love you. Instead, their brains have to first make the necessary chemicals. Or if a person has no capacity to love, they simply cannot deliver.
It’s hard to love when you are unhappy or experiencing depression. It’s hard to express love if you were not shown how by loving people. If you want to be truly loved, you have to be with someone who knows how to truly love—someone who has good love behaviours.
Getting more love
On the physical level, love is a chemical reaction in the brain that makes us feel good. On a mental level, we usually have as much love in our lives as we can handle depending on our love programming or lack of it. On a spiritual level, love is energy necessary to healthy life and soul development. To get more love in our lives, we can approach it from any level or from all levels. But, what needs to also happen is our capacity needs to expand.
A good way to get more love in your life is to think about it and practice it. How does love behave? It certainly isn’t critical. It isn’t selfish. Curbing negative behaviours is as important as creating loving ones. There are many good books written on love and relationships that can increase our love programming. We can always learn to love more, love better and create positive love experiences. We can be a better friend, a better parent and a better mate and thus increase our capacity to love.
The spiritual discipline of trying to love all people can also increase our capacity to love. When our own capacities to love increase, we experience more love and attract people who match our capacity. Love is divine and mystical. Many people have gained the capacity to love through mystical experience. It has been written that God is the source of love. Meditating on love or praying for love is a good way to draw it into your life.
No matter how you look at it, lots of love is good for your health and happiness. Since it doesn’t matter if you give or receive to benefit, you can start today to give love every chance you get. In this way, you will teach yourself love behaviours and strengthen all your relationships.
What goes around comes around. The love you have given out will very soon come back to you—maybe not in the form you gave it in, but come back it will!
Jackie Posednar was the publisher of Alaska Wellness Magazine until her death in 2012.