Embodied Transformation & Evolution

The Offering of Love ~ A wilder, deeper embrace

Posted by on Sep 4, 2018 in Featured Writing, Lifeletters & Articles | 4 comments

The Offering of Love ~ A wilder, deeper embrace

There is a possibility for us as humans, that I call ‘the way of love’. It asks us to learn how to give and receive love, the way that we breathe air, in and out. It’s a way known to very few of us, in our families, in our culture, in our world. It’s a way that has to be learned, practiced, committed to, very deeply. And it’s a way that asks us to unlearn the old ways of un-love, of judgment, of separation, and self abandonment.

It helps to lay a clear foundation for this practice from the beginning. It’s not a self improvement project. I am not practicing in order to become a better person. That intention flows from the old way, the way of un-love. The way of love asks me to discover how to embrace myself as I am: all the dimensions of my own being, seen and unseen, felt and unfelt, loved and unloved. Healing and evolution do not happen when I try to become better. They happen when I make deep contact with myself, exactly as I am. And with others, exactly as they are. From that place of deep intimacy with myself, I can start to hear what is calling me. I feel from deep inside, the whisper of my soul, my higher self. I sense in the core of my being an invitation to a higher consciousness, a greater love. This invitation is never to a new improved version of myself. It is calling me to a self I don’t know yet, a more tender, vulnerable, fluid, and very human identity.

How do I begin to walk the way of love? I begin where I am. I don’t know what this love is-it’s not what my ideas about it are. It’s much bigger than that. So I have to ask my mind to become quiet, in a gentle and loving way. I have to make this commitment, not to lose energy to the mind, so that I can turn my attention directly towards my own experience.

The practice of offering love can happen in any moment, and it is most potent when my experience troubles me. When my feelings or sensations or thoughts are distressing, when I feel contracted, threatened, defensive, overwhelmed. In a moment like this, I want to turn towards my direct experience, which is not a thought. It is a sensation, or a feeling, sometimes an image, which rises from my body. I turn towards this embodied experience, and offer love to it, even though I don’t know how. So I begin with a new and very simple understanding of what love is: love is that which stays with what is.

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When I am in pain, or reactive, I see if I can stay with my own experience, in the body, exactly as it is. It might be just for a moment, before the mind comes back in, with a stream of thinking. I release the thoughts, and drop back into the body. I repeat the practice. Perhaps I can be with my own direct embodied experience for another couple of seconds. I don’t ask for more than this. I practice love by accepting my capacity to be with what is, exactly as it is. To be, not to do. To rest, not to strive. To feel, instead of knowing.

Slowly, lurching and stumbling, I make my way through my day. Knowing there will be many moments when the experiences I have avoided will reappear as feelings that I can turn towards. Feelings of deep longing, loneliness, despair, anxiety. I offer myself in this way, not because I want to feel better, or become a better person, but because I am responding to the call of love and of reality.

The experiences we have not received, have not been able to integrate, do not go away. Our unlived life is always waiting for us. These feelings and sensations persist, they keep on waving their hands, stamping their feet, calling out to us throughout the day. They appear in many forms, and we’ll get lost in all of those forms if we are not clear about our practice. Which is to sink down through the thought stream, to renounce the desire to figure anything out, and make contact with our own immediate experience, as it lives in the body. A feeling, a sensation, or an image. Which asks for only one thing: will you stay with me, as I am?

In each moment, we can make a new choice, again and again. This is the gift of love, offered to us by life itself. Asking us if we are ready to come undone, to let love transform us, make us new.

with love,
Shayla

photo credit: Dan Jury cradling his grandfather, Frank Tugend, 1974.

4 Comments

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  1. Andrew MacDonald

    Your description of your process helps me feel I’m on a path with company. Thanks!

    And I love the picture. So simple in showing how we’re in this together. (Could I use it with attribution do you think?)

    Andrew

    • Maureen Geddes

      Andrew!
      I join my new friend Shayla’s blog, and find an old friend. Love is indeed ever-expanding circles. Lovely to see your smile, and to know another soul on the journey.
      And Shayla, thank you for living, breathing, rising (and writing) in love. Each of us being love is truly a profound journey.

      Maureen

  2. Jonathan Taylor

    As Quakers, we say in response to hearing/reading wisdom, “Thee speaks to my condition.” Thank you!

  3. Carol

    Thanks again dear Shayla…the capacity to love has to flow so deeply from our radical self-acceptance as you describe so touchingly here. Love is connection with what is within and connection with what appears outside of ourselves is natural because in some deep way, We are that too. Compassion is for me passion for life shared. We all have such beautiful yearning for life and it is there all along. Love to you always dear heart, Carol

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