Let's Make 2020 a New Summer of Love
One of the best antidotes for mistrust is not hatred or fear, but love.
Posted Aug 12, 2020
Living at a time in history as challenging as ours is can take a toll on anyone. I'm proposing that we utilize the mindful cleansing power of love and compassion in order to transform this summer from The Summer of COVID and Personal/Societal Challenge, to "The 2020 Summer of Love."
Before you label me as some weird guy who doesn't realize that the sky is falling in, there are several solid, scientific reasons for being more kind, loving, and open in your life.
Let's take a look at three key benefits as to why love matters:
1. Love makes you healthier because it boosts your immune system function. Your body turns genes on and off each moment through the interactions you have with the environment. When frequent interactions make you tense, defensive, angry, etc., then the immune system can get compromised.
But what happens when you experience love? A recent study in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology found an association between falling in love and the immune system, as well as with gene regulation. According to one of the researchers, Damian Murry, "What we found was that women who fell in love had increased activity of genes involved in antiviral defenses."
In addition, studies like those from the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine, show that calming practices like meditation, yoga, prayer, and breathing produced "immediate changes in the expression of genes involved in immune function, energy metabolism, and insulin secretion."
2. Love is a coping skill that helps you feel more open-minded and trusting. Love opens up fixed mindsets; it brings a sense of wholeness and integration into our lives. According to researcher Barbara Fredrickson's "broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions," everyday "positive emotions both open the mind and nourish the growth of resources." Being more open-minded allows for greater coping skills and predicts greater positive affect and happiness.
3. Love enhances relationships and feelings of connection with all things and persons. Interesting work from attachment researchers has shown that simply using certain words–such as "love" "closeness," and "safe" can prime us for feelings of safety and trust when relating with others–even those who may have previously mistrusted others. In fact, researchers Mario Mikulincer and Phillip Shaver see attachment security words as an "inner resource" that anyone can use. This can enhance prosocial behavior, personal mental health, and relations between different groups.
Tap the Original Meaning of Mindfulness
Why is mindfulness a natural healing salve for our hectic, fearful, and chaotic times? To understand this, let's start by reclaiming the original meaning for the word mindfulness, or sati in Sanskrit–which was to self-remember and self-recollect. I prefer this original meaning because it harkens to the idea of bringing back the broken, fragmented, shattered parts of ourselves that are lost to distraction, worry, fear, trauma, craving, rumination, and anxiety.
These fragmented pieces are mere echoes of who you really are and the abilities you possess.
At your core, you possess a loving nature and the ability to tap into an abiding wholeness that dissolves separation from others. This wholeness lets you recognize that we are all evolving–as a species, as individuals, as a society, and as a planet.
Mindfulness helps anyone to profoundly grasp the nature of change, impermanence, and suffering to which all humans all subject. If you possess a human body and a human mind, then you have lost someone close or experienced trauma of some kind.
Knowing this in our heart, we naturally cultivate an attitude of compassion and loving-kindness toward kindred ones sharing this planet, this air. Are we not all evolving together? Better to love and understand others, than to propagate harm through ignorance, hatred, anger, and fear. As the Bodhisattva vows say, "Delusions are endless." How true. Once we grasp how others suffer, we can naturally cultivate an attitude of compassion and loving-kindness for our kindred ones who are not very different from ourselves.
In our human frailty, let us count on love to lead us and transform us daily.
Today, set the intention to find the love, the joy, the beauty that exists in others and all things. Each time you notice the beauty and connect with love and joy, these will be priming experiences that boost your health, build relationships, and keep you feeling safe and grounded in the blessings of the present moment!
Set that powerful intention today and again tomorrow. Together, let's create "The 2020 Summer of Love."
In my next post, I'll share a Loving-Kindness practice, or meditation, for those who might be interested. I consider it to be one of humanity's earliest secreting primings. It's an affirmation that can be adapted to regulate emotions and overcome fear. How wonderful.