How Even A Flawed Spiritual Practice Can Lead You to Love
This brief practice can bring new intimacy into our lives.
Posted November 6, 2011
This short practice is a powerful, life-enhancing tool for finding love. It liberates waves of buried passion, and then uses that passion to change the course of your intimacy life. There's no rigid meditation recipe to follow. All you need is your longing for love, and ten minutes a day. Even if your focus is terrible (as mine is), it still works—if you put your heart into it. You can also use this practice to support you in achieving any heartfelt life-goal.
I've heard many people say they are too restless to meditate. I completely relate—and I've been a serious meditator for decades. My mind wanders constantly. I spend much of my time making lists, solving problems, and rehashing grievances. And yet, my meditation life is filled with more peace, joy and insight than I could have imagined. Why? Because I have been practicing badly for so many years! Spiritual practice doesn't need to be pristine in order to work.
WHY THIS PRACTICE WORKS: THE POWER OF LONGING
Longing has been given a terrible rap (I explore this concept in greater depth in my book Deeper Dating.) We've been told that it's both unhealthy and unattractive; that we have to be content on our own before we can find healthy love. I don't buy it. I've found longing to be perhaps our greatest ally in finding and keeping love. There's no question that longing hurts. And longing for an unavailable person is not a place we want to remain in. Yet longing is a central part of our human experience. The closer we get to our deepest feelings, the more we feel the pain of love's absence.
When love is missing, our loneliness tells us it's missing. When our life is empty, our longing tells us it's empty. When we learn to treasure our longing, it deepens us immensely. Our longing has the power to make us fight for what we want—including fighting against our own habits of isolation.
In general, the depth of our longing determines the leverage we have in overturning the patterns that block us from love. When longing burns in us, we change—because we must. To paraphrase Kafka, longing is "the axe that breaks the frozen sea within us."
Before we start: Many readers of this post may not believe in a higher power, or may cringe at the thought of a "spiritual practice." If you fall into this camp, I encourage you to honor your beliefs-and to still make this practice your own. Instead of asking God or a higher power for help, ask for the support of your vast untapped potential. Or think about what makes you feel hopeful, strong, or loving, and use that for your inspiration. Put your heart into this practice and you'll move closer to love, with or without believing in a deity.
For those readers who do believe in a higher power, or think they might believe, I encourage you to bring your most private heart into this experience. If you feel that your higher power is the primal love, then this is just the place to share your longing for partnership. Asking for help is scary. It brings us to our most vulnerable place. But that's the very place where our love grows most freely, and most lushly. Let yourself enjoy the deep intimacy of this process.
THE EXERCISE: TEN MINUTES TOWARD INTIMACY
Find a place in your home where you feel safe and peaceful. Sit down in this spot with a pen and paper.
Now craft a prayer, an affirmation, or a sentence that speaks of your desire for love. Be brave with your words. Craft a sentence that really touches your heart. Find the words that burn; the words that could even bring the hint of a tear to your eyes. You're not stuck with these words forever. They may change many times over the course of your practice. Don't worry about sounding wise, spiritual or polished. Just the word "help" is enough. Also, feel free to use words, affirmations and prayers that you've read or heard that speak to you.
I know someone who went into her yard every night before bed, looked at the sky, and thought about the reality that there was someone out there, looking for a person like her--they just hadn't found each other yet. She would sing, Goodnight My Someone from The Music Man and ask him into her life. In case you're wondering, she's happily partnered now, and she feels sure that this process made a real difference.
If you choose to use an affirmation, that is fine as well. Just create a sentence that feels hopeful, believable and moving. For example, you might picture your next partner and just repeat, "My love, I open my heart to you." The way you know an affirmation is right is by how true it rings, and by how much it moves you.
This practice sounds simple, but just wait! When we ask for what we most want, using the inner language of our personal yearning, we generate heat, emotion, and longing. We may begin to dread that love will never come. We may fear that we don't deserve our heart's desire. Or we might acutely feel the pain of our passionate unmet need for partnership and family. These are hard things to tolerate.
So why do something that hurts so much, even for ten minutes? Because it works. It changes our characters and our behaviors. It sets forces in motion that are below the conscious mind. It burns away our protective layers of numbness, distractedness and fixation on minor concerns. It reminds us of what we care about most. When we do this practice passionately and regularly, our whole life shifts on its axis.
When you first try meditating or any spiritual practice, expect to do it poorly. Realize you may want to flee or check the clock every three minutes. It's ok! If every day you have two minutes of pure feeling out of ten, you're bound to get closer to real love. And when you do have those moments of passion--when your heart takes you on a ride of fierce and authentic yearning--just ride that wave and give your heart to it.
At those moments there is a kind of download happening that transforms us and guides us. Let the download complete and feel its ripples afterward.
Let the practice take on a life of its own. Sometimes it might feel completely dry and forced. Expect that! Yet sometimes it will touch you and your longing will be ignited. Or you might feel a sense of peace or hope.
When that happens, you are in your zone. Stay with it. And when the wave passes, go back to repeating your words. Enjoy each time when, without warning, your practice takes wing. And most of all, I encourage you to make this practice a part of each day. Do it sloppily, but do it with heart, and I think you'll be very moved by what you experience.
© 2011 Ken Page, LCSW. All Rights Reserved
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