News / My Experiments with Love
Last week I finished my 21-Day Experiment with Love and I would like to take this opportunity to thank every person who read and/or responded to my blog posts, and a particularly big thank you to all the people who joined me on the experiment - I hope it was as transformational for you as it has been for me.
I have continued with the daily immersion in love, which is evoked through the day and it continues transform my relationship with self and hence the world. I feel more safe in the world than at any previous time in my life and consequently more able to step in to life.
My life hasn't miraculously transformed into a Disney-esque tale of perfection and I haven't miraculously been transformed into an infallible princess but love has become my reference point rather than fear and when the fear arrives at my door I can reach a little deeper and rest in the love that is underneath everything.
I feel deeply grateful to all the circumstances, teachers, students, friends and family who have brought me to this place. So it is in this context that I will begin my next 21-Day experiment, this time with Gratitude.
If you missed any of the posts from the 21-Day Experiment with Love or would like to retrace the whole experiment, here is the link to whole 21 days. Please share it with your friends and feel welcomed to leave comments.
- Love is powerful beyond measure; sitting underneath everything, if we just take the time to stop and see, feel and be love.
I began this experiment first and foremost to explore the power of love and what I found was that the love is powerful beyond measure; sitting underneath everything, if we just take the time to stop and see, feel and be love. In the context of love I have felt that my whole being is accepted and in this acceptance, my ‘stuff’ has arisen to be seen. And again, in the context of love, seeing is accepting.
The immediate ripple of love and acceptance is compassion, which I have discovered is a word that is love, acceptance and forgiveness rolled in to one word. I have felt authentic compassion for myself, which has naturally and effortlessly resulted in compassion for ‘others’.
What happens then is tolerance, patience, understanding and respect. This hasn’t always happened instantly – sometimes it has taken a whole day for the love to seep through my layers of conditioning - but When it has happened, it has dissolved fear and anxiety, and revealed actions and understandings in a very matter of fact way. I wonder if this is what is meant by detachment, detaching the emotions from a situation so we can see the reality that is to be managed.
It has also removed a level of turbulence and fear from my relationships, which has been an area of my life fraught with anxiety and fear. It is a difficult experience to describe but I shall try. I see myself much more clearly and with much less judgement (if not immediately, then after some practice).
Equally I see ‘others’ more clearly and with much less judgement because I feel an intimacy with people that is quite new to me and an inclination to do stuff with people and move forward as ‘us’. This ‘I’ has become ‘we’ and separated by a very fine transparent thing called a body. Again, it is not yet an instinctive, natural 24/7 thing but I am having the felt experience of connection that is growing.
So, as I said before, I am seeing myself and the world more clearly and this is the opposite of rose-coloured glasses. I am not perfect and neither is anyone else or the world, or at least not perfect in the Barbie, airbrushed version of perfect that we have become so concerned in many aspects of life, including spirituality. There is perfection in seeing the blemishes and allowing them to be there and there is perfection in seeing the world without it needing to be right or wrong.
And on reflection, some of my behaviour and thought patterns that have been the most difficult to transform are transforming on their own without conscious effort, I think because they are being allowed.
Life is made in the small decisions we make in each moment and if we are deciding in a moment of love then our decisions will be different, which create a more loving lives with more loving relationships, even if they are not ‘perfect’. If we feel love within ourselves we don’t need to do anything to deserve love and neither does anyone else – we are love and we see the world with love, it is our choice and our responsibility.
Yes, making a commitment to do something every day for 21 days has definitely been a very potent tool in beginning a new practice. The power of love is beginning to reveal itself to me because I have immersed myself in the practice, in my life, everyday, several times a day for three weeks. Yes, it is now habitual to stop and evoke love which is resulting in an increase of the background presence of compassion in my everyday life.
Yes, making a public declaration of my commitment has also been very potent, made even more so by the form of the declaration and commitment. I made a declaration on Facebook that I would practice through the day and write about it at the end of the day and share my experiences. The result has been public journaling and it has sometimes been the declaration that has put my bum on the seat and in the journaling the reflection and understanding has come.
I think the power of my experiment can be summed in this final anecdote.
Yesterday, the morning after my experiment concluded I awoke again in the early hours with a family of anxieties nesting in my consciousness. Instead of being evicted from my house by this invading family I rose from my bed and did an asana practice, followed by a relaxation and meditation.
What I discovered was a deep rooted fear that sat as a knot in my heart, and out of the fear sprung all my anxieties and smaller fears (the patterns that generate reactions). This wasn’t a useful fear like a fear of rearing snakes or white tailed spiders in the bed linen, this was an existential fear, a fear of life and all that ‘life’ could do to me if I … completely disempowering.
So my mind started to work on what I could to get rid of this fear with which I had identified and which been so limiting in my life. Then I held my finger and I became aware of love, love so deep that it laid under the fear then everything stopped. I felt the warm assurance of being held, like a small child being held by a nurturing parent, totally safe. I didn’t need to do anything with the fear, I just needed to feel the love. Again the solutions to my anxieties arrived without me needing to think or do anything in particular.
And finally, this experiment has not cured my life but it has given me a deep connection with love, which I am increasingly experiencing as my essence, an essence far more powerful than fear.
Day 21 conclusions:
- Love gives me courage not to be perfect.
Today I have found courage to acknowledge my own confusion, I felt safe to not know what to do in my life and I was able to read criticism of my blog without collapsing into the feeling of failure which leads to offensive defence.
Love of myself within myself leads not to an external version of ‘perfect’ but an acceptance of what is, and acceptance allows me to see the truths of my behaviour and how it impacts on other people. This then automatically leads to acceptance of other people – the standard isn’t perfection – and a sneaking awareness of shared life.
And interestingly enough, this acceptance doesn’t lead to inaction for me; my fear leads to inaction. The acceptance and the choice to love gives me permission to fail, which also gives me permission to grow and succeed.
So today I have sent further requests for help with the publicity for my book. I have discovered that I really want to work with people to pull this off, I want to find people with imagination and publicity skill who think half in and half out of the box.
And I can do this because love gave me the courage to not be perfect.
Day 20 conclusions:
- When I hold love in my awareness, love becomes more important than being right.
- Love is more empowering for me than being right
- I am also noticing it is more infectious than the measles – we are all becoming more harmonious, less judgemental and more loving.
Today’s writing is short – I have discovered that for me, love is more empowering than being right. Today I have discovered that if you held love in my awareness, particularly when having a discussion or disagreement, maintaining love becomes more important to me than being right.
And I feel more empowered by holding love than when I have held being right as more important. This doesn’t mean I resign, just that I find a way to express myself differently while listening and respecting a different view.
I am also noticing it is more infectious than the measles – we are all becoming more harmonious, less judgemental and more loving.
Day 19 conclusions:
- I am finding that starting one regular practice has had a ripple effect through the rest of my life.
- I am being more proactive and not waiting to get broken, again.
The way we live in our modern world can be so reactive - we wait until something is broken before we work out how to fix it. We wait until we are so stressed that our body tells us to stop through illness, injury or chronic fatigue or we start having panic attacks or experience depression. We allow our body to get so stiff overworked or overweight; and/or we allow our relationships to deteriorate to the extent of social isolation and/or mental health issues.
Yet there are tools we can engage with to reduce the likelihood of things getting broken or at least reduce the degree of broken and can support a faster and more complete recovery when things do break. And I am finding that starting one regular practice has had a ripple effect through the rest of my life.
For example, since starting my 21 day Experiment with Love, I have improved my diet, increased my exercise, established a regular physical asana practice to compliment my mental practice and I am becoming more proactive, generally.
So, note to self – change one aspect and watch the change ripple through your life.
Day 18 conclusions:
- I love the feeling that comes from practising Dru.
- The result through the day was stamina, calm and generosity
- I am increasingly having a felt experience of how I can engage in love with myself and the world around me.
Once again I been woken from a nightmare, startled and alarmed at 4.25am, and once again returning to sleep was elusive. An hour of tossing and turning, with questions of finance and direction circling my fish-bowl mind, I got up and practised: sun salutation, EBR2, visualising the fish and warriors with breathing and a short yoga Nidra. Then sitting.
The revelation today was how much I love the feeling that comes from practising Dru. My body feels light and strong, my mind more focussed and my emotions more tranquil. Filling my whole spine with love, stopping at each centre and noticing what the expression of love might be at each centre, for me today. Quietening the chatter in my mind and energising my body.
The result through the day was stamina, calm and generosity – with myself as well as others.
As this experiment continues I am needing to remind myself less and the actual practice is more intuitive and less cognitive. Compassion, genuine and heartfelt compassion, seems to be effortless and judgement almost non-existent.
I am increasingly having a felt experience of how I can engage in love with myself and the world around me.
Day 17 conclusions:
- Holding on to the perceived offences of life for days, weeks, months or sometimes years will only cause me harm – like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.
- Letting stuff go is a matter of following the signposts of my emotions and reactions, then using my tools intuitively to watch them pass.
- And there’s no need to go hunting, the signs will appear when I am ready.
I woke up abruptly this morning, startled and alarmed, having drawn myself out of a nightmare. The clock read 4.25am but I was unable to find sleep again. My brain was wired and my whole system on alert. The dream involved me involved me in a heated argument, threatening to leave if the other person didn’t let go.
“How long has it been?”
“Twenty five years.”
“Then don’t you think it’s time to let go?”
The other person was sobbing. It seemed they didn’t actually want to hold on, even that they know it was causing them harm but that they didn’t know they could or how. I eventually left, dragging the hand of a young child. This was when I woke up.
I felt desolate and it occurred to me that the nightmare was about my own relationship with myself. What was I not letting go? Whatever it was, the ‘holding on’ was causing me grief. After over an hour of searching, sleep was still alluding me so I decided to follow my intuition and use my tools (the lesson I had learnt yesterday). I got up and did a round of the Dru Sun Sequence, EBR2 and some breathing practice, and felt completely revived. Sitting was next.
While I was sitting and focusing on love some relationships gone wrong came into my mind and I started to go down the old path of imagining exposing the people who I perceived had done me wrong or seeing them expose themselves – catching them out gossiping about me or some such injustice. This is the mind of someone who feels bullied.
What would this achieve? Would it stop them from doing it? Would it change their mind about me? Or would it simply give them more reason to justify their behaviour? Most probably the latter, if for no other reason than to hide their embarrassment (that’s if there had been any reality on which to base my imaginings and I have to entertain the idea that maybe there wasn’t).
In the space of my love meditation, I watched these desires for revenge sugar-coated in justice and then watched the train of questions that followed and by the time the last carriage passed the station of my observation the wind had gone out of my sails and my mind was tranquil again. I was reminded of the joy I feel when I feel love and held the people concerned in the light of love. I had let go of the emotion.
The nightmare and ensuing were signposts that something needed to be released from within my own psyche, the tools of asana with pranayama and meditation allowed the ‘stuff’ to gently rise, be observed and released. Relationships, intimate or platonic, don’t always go along the tracks I might want them to but holding on to the perceived offence for days, weeks, months or sometimes years will only cause me harm, and letting them go is a matter of following the signposts of my emotions and reactions, then using my tools intuitively to watch them pass.
And finally, there’s no need to go hunting – the ‘stuff’ will arrive on my path when I am ready.
I think this is living in love with myself - another gift of my Experiment with Love.
Day 16 conclusions:
- Today I have been noticing my relationship with myself, and it’s still dodgy at best.
- I feel pure joy when I feel love for another individual.
- So what now?
When I woke this morning and sat for my morning love infusion, it became clear to me that my project today was me, not my body or it’s ills or any other specific part of me – my project was love for the whole of me. Not the kind of egoist love that relies on achievement and/or beauty but the love that just is, regardless.
If ever I was ever going allow love through me it had to include me, as well. If I was ever going to look upon another human being (or any other being), with unconditional love, it would have to originate in unconditional love within myself.
Perhaps I always knew it would come to this and I had been secretly hiding it away from myself but today it rose and having risen, I can’t shove it back down. It has sat in the very corner of my vision, waiting for me to notice when my guard is down.
So today I have been noticing my relationship with myself, and it’s still dodgy at best.
It has been a stressful and long day as I have had scans to investigate a lump found in my breast a week ago (cyst of fatty tissue), taught two yoga classes and taxied family members to where they needed to be, before arriving home exhausted and preparing toasted cheese sandwich for dinner.
What I noticed today is that I derive an inordinate amount of pleasure from loving. I feel pure joy when I feel love for another individual (be they human or not). Of course, the experience is more intense when I am with my family or partner, or people I am intimate with but generally speaking if I am with someone and I allow myself, I feel love and that brings me joy; joy that is unattached to the person or anything they might have said or done, just pure joy.
And this raises more questions than it answers. Is this my path to self-love – allowing myself to feel love for folk? What if I am one such folk? What if I could allow myself to feel love in the context of myself? Is this a vocation? Is it even possible? Am I finally going mad?
I feel joy when I feel love, so what now?
Day 15 conclusions:
- Right here, right now, without the Big Bang, I have the power to change my experience of reality.
- This is freedom at my fingertips, this is power, and it is available now not in some future time when I have climbed the mountain.
- My Experiment with Love continues to inspire my commitment to living in love.
A very wise teacher once told me that it’s not that the thought habits and patterns disappear, you just become more adept at recognising them and using your tools to manage them. I felt very disappointed. I wanted to be rid of my madness, I wanted it all to disappear into thin air. I wanted freedom, enlightenment and I wanted it now. I wanted the Big Bang.
What I have since learned, and today more than any other, is that he was right. Not only is this path more achievable, more empowering and far less stressful, particularly if we adopt a view that we are already whole and the process of self-realisation then becomes the process of dismantling the parts of us which are not serving our wholeness – disempowering the thought habits and patterns that keep us reactive.
It is actually more liberating to know that right here, right now, without the Big Bang, I have the power to change my experience of reality. How cool is that? For me it doesn’t get any better than that.
How do I know that?
Because today I found myself sad and wanting about my life situation, and then even sad and wanting about the whole concept of the power of love. ‘If I can’t transform my experience with all of my tools and my intention, what chance do other people have with less tools?’ then the very crucial thought occurred to me. ‘Are you using them?’ I had to answer, ‘no, I am not’.
It was a subtly different version of a self-defeating thought pattern I have experienced before, a habit of self-sabotage. This time, inspired by my experiment with love, I recognised the pattern and started to use the tools that have been most effective in transforming my patterns – yoga and meditation.
Triangles, Bhīma, warriors 1 & 2, and my mood of sadness and wanting had completely shifted. I was ready to evoke love into a clear space so I held my finger and silently chanted Om. Instantly the sensation of love was evoked through my body and my mind was peaceful again.
This is freedom at my fingertips, this is power, and it is available now not in some future time when I have climbed the mountain.
Oh, and my Experiment with Love continues to inspire my commitment to living in love.
Day 14 (part 2) conclusions:
- Choosing to love is very different from acceptance.
- I am again touching on an idea that the strength and resilience I feel may not be physical.
A quick recap. During this morning’s meditation I found myself with my physical body and realised it was time to turn my intention inward.
And what I have found is for me, ground-breaking and by no means complete – more, the beginning. I have written a whole book about the value of acceptance and surrender but love was a word I was uncomfortable with, particularly in the same sentence as myself. I have been quite skilled at leaning how to accept aspects of my life that weren't ideal, surrendering to what is and forgiveness but not welcoming and definitely not love.
So today I have been having a completely different experience with my body – I have welcomed and loved. It hasn't been either seamless or easy but it has been illuminating, and it has left me with a dream of inhabiting my body, with love.
When I started visualising yoga I felt like I was learning how to inhabit my body again, while accepting the limitations it presented in actual movement. Now I feel like that was he first stage of the journey and I have the opportunity to engage in the next level of habitation – to invite love into my experience of my body.
Today I have started to experience what this might be like and it really is lovely, as another source of tension is released each time I evoke love in response to my body. It is still a conscious act to evoke the sensations of love in my body, particularly the parts that aren't working as well as one might hope, but I feel like I have stumbled on something really warm and nurturing for myself.
Choosing to love is very different from accepting.
And I am again touching on an idea that the strength and resilience I feel may not be physical, and welcoming this strength while loving the rest may be the key to my well-being, whether my body is ‘functioning’ or not.