We may think that we differ in our understanding of love. But love is a feeling in our hearts that is as true as life itself.
However, our exercise of our love, like the need to exercise our body, is often neglected and we tend to suffer from constriction of our natural feelings as we suffer with limitations of stiff joints and tendons.
It is suggested that just as the physical body needs strength and flexibility, so our heart requires the same ability to adjust and expand.
It is not so easy and nearly impossible to share the personal experiences that have built up the strength of our love. But it is simple enough to share a reminder of the common technique that motivates us all to deliberately stretch our natural affections so that we can expand and grow emotionally. This allows us to embrace a wider sphere of life with our hearts as well as our minds.
One basic exercise is most comfortable when seated in meditation or when lying quietly.
As often wisely reminded, we must apply the directive to ‘mind our own business’ and so we start with ourselves. Consideration of self affection is not meant in a derogatory sense. Self respect and liking our own self provides us with a reasonable basis to gradually develop in time an unconditional state of universal love.
Sincere feeling of affection for our bodies, our personality and our deeper being puts us in touch with whole soul with a sense or realization of our soul as our best friend.
After a time it feels natural to stretch out beyond ourselves to we embrace those closest to us in our real feelings of affection – not dutiful or habitual feelings, but with our genuine feelings of love.
Relaxing thought, let our heart remind us of all those loved ones whose images flow through our consciousness. It is very likely that we begin with our own families, extending to others who have once been in our lives and to those who are still in our lives. Our love for those who have already died can remain clear and real as before and often increases.
Sometimes we are reminded through our sense of gratitude and appreciation, of those who have nurtured or assisted us.
Sometimes affection flows through the constant regard we hold for certain authors and individuals who have been a positive influence upon our lives and our thinking.
Then there are those people to whom we feel soul attuned although not directly in physical contact.
Sometimes we go back in memory to our early life and sometimes are intensely focussed on the present.
We can gravitate to our natural admiration and respect for great and noble people who have lived, or devotion to others who evoke a higher spiritual response of devotion.
We continue to spontaneously extend our feelings rather than our thoughts and enjoy the sense of loving so many or so greatly.
Gradually it becomes easier and easier to expand our hearts to love the whole city, state, country, continent, until we embrace human life as a whole. And sometimes we recognize that it feels easier to love the whole world impersonally, than to love a single individual. Whatever is a real or spontaneous experience in this exercise is yours and yours alone.
There are times of great difficulty when the heart is not receptive to the idea of expanding your affection to human beings. It is more attractive to be concerned with loving Nature. Then we must find the love that is uppermost in your personality in appreciating the many avenues of Nature’s expression.
Here the same principle applies. We commence with recognition of a sincere love for say, one tree before the flow of many types of trees passes and so we can feel love for all trees without distinction. From our love for one animal our heart expands in our love for all animals; from one blue sky to all skies; from one rock or gem to all gemstones; from a love of one natural Element (fire, earth, air, water or ether) to all the five natural elements; from one star to the cosmos. There is no end to the limitations of our heart’s love until we experience it.
Do try this exercise. You will find it interesting and will discover new facets in your concept of love – expanding from the minute to the magnificence of the universal.