More than ever before we talk about love in different ways. It seems there is more appreciation to other kinds of love which exceed romantic love. Maybe the change is because now, more than ever before, many people are single. Being single is a growing global trend, whether by choice or by circumstances, more people don’t marry and new ways of being in loving relationships are explored. It turns out, there are many ways to be in loving relationships.
Love is a humungous topic. It’s hard to put our arms around love, but we try, measuring love and defining it. For some love is a feeling, to others a commitment. To some it’s security, to others a vulnerability. To some a fulfilled desire, while for others a longing.
What we want is to be in authentic relationships.We want to be ourselves and relate to others who are authentically themselves. When we are in loving relationships we want to be seen, heard, feel connected and belong. In authentic loving relationships, these four posts are important underpinnings, usually garbed with elaborate unconscious and conscious desires and needs.
Alain de Botton who wrote Essays in Love defines love as charitable interpretation of others’ behavior. To love is to be willing to interpret someone’s not so appealing behavior with a more benevolence reason. Loving is accepting faults; being patient and charitable in our interpretation of unappealing behaviors.
We are bound to disappoint and be disappointed, especially with people we love and whom love us. Love is not admiration alone, although we want it to be because it would be so much easier. But real life love must include compromise and tolerance of unpleasant feelings and behaviors. It calls us to be mature in loving and living with the recognition we need to tolerate ambivalence. The disparity between what we like and the things we really don’t like. We tend to spend a lot of time and energy rejecting and resisting the things we don’t want to include in the mix of love and relationships, but reality is what it is and we need to accept it.
Staying in relationships requires skill. Love is not just a matter of feelings. It hurts when we are disappointed, but with mendful skills and sensibilities we can navigate it better. We must stay in the conversation with others and with the different triggers within us, and not run away from them and avoid them. It actually makes the things we try to avoid more resistant and painful.
In Mendful Path Living we cultivate a remembering we carry in our heart, namely, the intention to mend. The mendful mindset and the intention to mend are tucked in our heart and in our consciousness to help bring us back to love and mending. How?
I have a regular daily practice of meditation and prayer to orient me ever so strongly to mending. More and more I see how it helps usher me back from the edge of discomfort and discontent to balance and calm. It’s especially helps me respond with more understanding and care in challenging moments. Remembering all humans experience disappointments, hurts, and challenges, we prepare and support ourselves to respond more calmly and productively in stressful situations. The question is not whether we will be challenged, because we surely will, but instead we prepare and plan how we will respond mendfully. How in the moment we don’t allow our habitual reactivity to get the best of us and create more suffering and harm. And, when things get away from us sometime we mend from there. We ask for forgiveness, forgive others and make amends.
Mendful love is how we live. One conversation, one encounter, one small mend at a time. May your love flourish in many colors and textures within you and in all your relationships, whether you are partnered or not. Rabbi Sigal
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