Love dominates our lives but yet we understand very little about it. For example, why are we unable to let a partner go if we truly care for them? Shouldn’t our affection be extended to wish our partner happiness even if s/he makes a decision to start a new relationship? Also, if we really care for another, why do we feel discontentment in the relationship? Why do we not accept our partner’s shortcomings or leave them if it is really not working out? Why do we hang on to difficult relationships or insist our partner do things s/he hate in the name of love?
What we think love is
Love comes in many forms. We can be affectionate towards our parents, our children to our spouses, or partners. The only difference is when it comes to our romantic partners, it includes passion. Love in our society is always expressed in romantic films as a happy ending and long-term relationships are portrayed as something we should look for because it provides comfort, refuge, and an end to loneliness.
Some friends have even expressed that finding a partner is crucial as they do not wish to die alone. Although we all die alone, I think what they mean is to have loved ones at their deathbeds.
The reality of our affection
Some people do find comfort and joy in long-term loving relationships. But this is often denied to quite a large portion of the population. Others stay in a long-term relationship due to habit and fear of loneliness despite rocky relationships.
In reality, those who lose their partners to death can dwell in depression for a long time. Is this a form of love or is it something else? Logically, we can say if we love someone, we should be able to let him/her go, even to death to release them from pain. The reason is the same when it comes to letting our partner go to another person where they find greater happiness. Death is a release from physical suffering just as making the choice to leave us is a release from unhappiness. But yet we are upset about a loved one leaving, we explain that the reason for our unhappiness is the loss of a loved one.
How we really see love
We see love as something we are glad to have, and something we possess from another person. We like to be loved by another because it shows we are lovable. So when we lose this object who admires and feels something special towards us, we feel lost.
If we have true affection in our own hearts, would we feel lost without the special someone? What we have is a borrowed feeling from others. We may do things to increase that feeling in others so that they can give more to us. But of course, we do things for others also to make them happy. But if they aren’t happy with our gifts or surprises, we begin to feel unappreciated. Do you see how we actually view this feeling we call love?
Affection from our own hearts
We can understand and rationalize this universal feeling in all relationships. We nod in agreement that if love is pure, we would not feel unhappy when our object of affection leaves us or does not appreciate us. Letting go of loved ones happily can only happen when we ourselves have large reserves of this universal feeling in our hearts.
What then is love? If we look at the affection of the mother for her own child, we can say this is true love and it is unconditional. A mother is willing to sacrifice, forgive, be compassionate, and be affectionate towards her child. She is able to hold her child to comfort him/her and at times even willing to let go for her child’s happiness.
Developing love in mindfulness
Is there a way to build a large reserve of love in our hearts so that we can share with others? Of course, that is possible. To train our hearts to grow this universal feeling includes reflection and contemplating the qualities of those we love, and admire.
Find out more about how you can develop love by training your mind in mindfulness. Or you can watch some of our videos to kickstart the practise on your own.