What is Love? It’s a question that has been asked for centuries, and a popular blog topic. People seeking relationships in their lives often struggle with what it truly means.
Love is, however, far more than just what we feel for our intimate partner. We love our children and our parents. We love our pets, the sunrise over the ocean, the redwoods, and the smell of bay leaves cooking in the soup grandma used to make on a cold evening. There are so many ways that we use the word love.
Love is given and received. It’s something that arises from within us when we’re moved, grateful, comforted, and even when we’re grieving.
We have romantic love, the love of a parent for a child, the love of a child for a parent, love for our friends, and love of the planet. Love arises when we’re doing something that brings us joy – our passion, our creative outlets, our adventures, or our moments of absolute silliness.
A Noun and A Verb
Love is both a noun and a verb. It’s an experience that we have – we feel the state of love – and an action that we take. To love, according to Scott Peck, the author of the classic personal and spiritual growth book, The Road Less Traveled, is to extend one’s self for the purpose of one’s own or another’s spiritual growth. That greater sense of love is truly serving the highest good of another.
It’s hard to come up with something simple and clear that captures this vast, unlimited noun and verb, with so many implications. But I have 3 words that, for me, encapsulate the essence of this word we call love: Being Fully Present.
We are human beings, not human doings. It is our being, our True Self within, that is the fountain of love. Going about our doings through the day may get the bills paid or clean up the kitchen, but it is from our core Being that love emanates.
We can do all those actions while deeply connected to our being, and bring love to all that we offer the world. And we can also radiate love simply by just being here at the foot of a tree, in the post office, or holding our child’s hand. Remember that Who You Are precedes What You Do; and the deepest level of your Being is love itself.
When we fully give ourselves to something, we have invested our whole being. Our intent is to engage with our awareness and attention in whatever we choose to do.
If we are fully committed to love in this moment – completely intent on feeling love, acting from love, embodying love, giving and receiving love – then love will more naturally flow from us. And if it doesn’t, then holding to our intent, we’ll work with and through the obstacles that arise to becoming the loving Beings we choose to be. We’ll uncover the blocks to receiving love and the beliefs that our actions of love aren’t enough, or that we’re not enough to be lovable. Fully engaged, in any endeavor, leads us to what needs healing or release in order to reach our intended destination.
This present moment, right now, is all that is. We can’t live in the past or the future. It’s the present that has all the power; where we can act, receive, and be who we are here to be.
I can’t think of anything more loving that being present with another. It’s the greatest gift we can give, and any other acts of service and kindness follow from a willingness to be right here, right now with an injured animal or to stop and pick up the plastic wrapper left in a park. Our expressions of love arise from presence.
When we’re truly present – whether it’s simply with our breath or a tree or a loved one – we become love. This is because in Presence as a spiritual practice, the thoughts release, the heart is receptive, and we experience connection. Connection is love.
From my book, Awakening from Anxiety:
Presence is a deep connection with what is. The mind is quiet and the heart is open… When we’re present with another person, we’re listening, quiet within, and feel a bond, a sense of Oneness.
Don’t we feel deeply loved when someone else is present with us, when we feel connected to them? It reflects that we’re cherished and valued. We receive the attention and acknowledgement that each of us longs for. We also experience this deep sense of connection by being listened to, receiving eye contact, a thoughtful touch, and most importantly feeling that someone is right there with us, no matter what – all potential expressions of Presence. That profound connection creates Oneness, which is an experience of love.
Presence awakens love in us not only when we’re with another human being. By giving fully of ourselves to the moment, whatever it offers, we feel a sense of love – even without an object to focus our love on. Imagine how it would feel to feel that love within you, no matter the circumstance. It’s possible when we’re practicing Presence.
Putting It All Together
Giving that gift of Being Fully Present with others – and ourselves – is the practice of love in its deepest form. We are consciously Being, fully bringing our awareness and attention into this moment with an open heart and quiet mind. That is Being Fully Present. This embodies love as a noun – the state of Being Fully Present. It also reveals love as a verb, for this is an active choice that we can bring to any action, object, situation, or living creature that we encounter.
Whether it is with a loved one, a mountain top, or your own self, set aside your device for a bit and trust that the to-do list will get done later. Let your love for those you care about in your life be expressed through Being Fully Present. To me, that is Love with a capital L.