I'm a liberated woman. I really am. I've paid my own way since I moved out and never dated based on income brackets. I rolled my eyes at the manufacturing of romance each Valentine's day. I try to find love in myself rather than looking for love through compliments or gifts my lovers give me. I practice yoga as self-care diligently.
But I've got to be honest. When I drive by the pink and red displays of bears and flowers and chocolates that pop up like fluffy pink dandelions this time of year on street corners my liberated lady goes on vacation somewhere feminist icons go to relax and I just want my partner to get me something cute, fluffy and cuddly.
So I had to ask myself why. I don't have room for another teddy bear and I only like 70 percent or darker cacao chocolate. Which I doubt they sell. I don't actually want that stuff. So what do I want? What kind of love is it that I am looking for?
I want to be noticed, acknowledged, cared for, recognized for my lovability.
And here's the thing. Whether or not we have a partner, friends or family who do all these things we still end up wanting more. At least I do.
It's part of the energy of collective consciousness we hold about messages of love. Often all the messaging we see triggers a sense of lack within us and heightens the craving nature inherent in our human condition.
Instead of looking for love that is unhealthy, or in all the wrong places, or giving in to something that feels manufactured or fake, or simply going the other direction and cynically resisting love altogether, I'm going to try a middle way. While looking for love, I'm considering an alternative to giving in or completely resisting, to get some of the attention and love I might just be craving. Here's how:
1. We can go looking for love by remembering ourselves; this is part of practicing the 8-fold path of yoga, svadhyaya.
Sva in Sanskrit means self and dhyaya means to learn, study or remember. We can take some time to remember ourselves, to inquire and see what we want. Maybe it is a red box of milk chocolates with a bow on it. Maybe it's a journal. Or time to ourselves. Whatever it is we love, that makes us feel wonderful, we can gift it to ourselves.
For me, spending time in nature alone, meditation, writing or reading a great book are all ways I remember to love myself.
This kind of self-care is great everyday, of course, and it is especially relevant when I notice I am feeling loveless or lonely. As the Buddha once said, "you could search the whole world over and not find someone more deserving of love than yourself."
2. We can find love by coupling some self-care with the yogic principle of santosha.
In Sanskrit San means entirely and tosha means contentment. What makes us feel utterly satisfied? Really allow ourselves to enjoy a morning lie in, coffee, paper or book. Let ourselves be truly content with what we have right there in front of us. Luxuriate in the pleasures of own life. Whatever we love to do, we go ahead and do it! "Let the soft animal of your body love what it loves," as Mary Oliver suggests.
So instead of looking for love in external validation, compliments or material gifts, we can be our own love. Self love. Self care. Living love on the daily through specific, little, loving steps towards self.
My luxuries these days as a mom of a toddler are a little different than before. Doing all the dishes in the sink in one sitting feels amazingly good. Sleeping until 6 a.m.? Heaven. Scripting a yoga sequence or laying down for savasana in the middle of the day is pure bliss. Snuggling with my little one is often a quick and profound road to contentment I get to experience daily. Hiking the ever-changing mountain paths for hours is completely recharging. The paths are varied and changing.
Whatever brings us contentment, let's do it. It may be the surest path to feeling love. Let me know how it goes. I'd love to hear exactly how you are looking for love while taking care of the miracle of you.