Sunday, April 10, 2011
In the light of love
It has been four days back at home since my time spent in Nosara, Costa Rica. I know from experience that returning to your day-to-day life after having such a spiritually charged break from it can be a tricky adjustment. I'm trying to keep myself safely in the "bhakti bubble" that marked my time away, particularly the sacred chant and yoga retreat portion. I find myself craving alone time, preferring the company of mantras, the ocean and my journal to even my closest friends. Unusual, compared to my typical, social butterfly way of being. But I have much to process, much to ponder, and it all comes down to love.
Love was the constant theme of the retreat. Bhakti is the yoga of devotion, the yoga of love. We spent our days singing about it, talking about it, feeling it and being it. We were living in the bhakti bubble. And it got better. Every aspect of the experience felt nourishing. Each day, delicious, fresh, healthful vegetarian meals were laid out for us. Nature's beauty provided a serene backdrop to our every moment. In the company of other conscious, spiritual beings you couldn't help but feel more enlightened and inspired than normal. And it was hot and sticky, with little clothing required, so you just became comfortable with your skin and your natural beauty. It was all a very intoxicating combination. It's like being high on a wonder drug where everything and everyone are love.
So if the retreat is the high, coming home is the detox. Everything has to get processed. And for me, the processing has been a meditation on love. Love. It is a small, simple word, and some even try to make it into a small, simple concept. That couldn't be further from the truth. Love is bigger and more powerful than the mighty ocean. Love is the force of life. Love is all-pervading. Social conditioning would tell us that there is romantic love, as in being in love with your significant other, and there is love of family, of children, of friends. There is even room for love of animals, of nature, of places. But each of these is a tightly defined category. Each of these has a place in the heirarchy of love. In my contemplation, I came to realize that, at least to some degree, I've blindly followed this belief, and I see now that it just doesn't resonate with my heart.
Take the retreat as an example. Here was an opportunity where everyone was in love. It wasn't necessarily romantic love, but it was love to be sure. There was powerful connection. There was a constant cycle of people projecting yummy, juicy, sticky-sweet emotions onto others and then having them reflected back, perpetuating love all around. Most of us were complete strangers, and yet we found ourselves part of connections bound by the pureness and intimacy that are the trademarks of love. And then there was the music, the most soul-stirring, trance-inducing kirtan. It all felt a bit like the kind of free love that marked the hippie movement in the sixties, only it was happening in the here and now.
So who is to say that love must be placed in a neat little box? I say love is wild, abstract and cannot be contained. I say you can be in love, fully and strongly, with multiple people at once. Being in love need not always entail a romantic connection. It can be a soul connection, a mind connection, a connection through a shared powerful experience. It can happen in an instant, and it can last for only a finite, fleeting period of time. Being in love doesn't always unfold the way we've been told it will since we were children. It isn't always about two lovers meeting, getting to know one another, building a life based on shared history and experience. Certainly this can and does happen. Certainly it can be entirely gratifying. But that isn't all there is. There is being in love as a group mentality. There is being in love with someone who deeply inspires you and touches your soul, even if only from a distance. And at the foundation, there is being in love with yourself. Taking the time to really connect to your heart and soul, to hear, see and feel who you truly are, what you truly desire and aspire to in this life. That is one of the ultimate acts of love, as it then allows you to fulfill your true purpose, which will always only benefit everyone.
As a bhakti yogi, I subscribe to the belief that we are all love, we are all one and we are all divine. So I say spread the love. Continue being part of the cycle of projecting and reflecting. I'm not saying poly-amorous lifestyles for all, though no judgment if that's your thing. I'm simply saying that we should let love flow freely and authentically rather than trying to reign it in and narrowly define it. Imagine what that would mean to our relationships, to our world! To me, it is one of the most beautiful and inspiring notions. A world where we can freely and safely express and embody love without restraint. A world where the underlying connection that we all share is understood to be love. How amazing!