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Mindful : June 2014
56 mindful June 2014 getting started: emotions Love is such a sought-after feeling that entire industries are built around it. Love is a T V genre, a movie genre, a book genre. Magazines obsess over and feed the ideal of romantic love. And yet so much of what passes for love leads to disappointment and pain. It’s these two sides of love—the joy of connection and the pain that comes from at taching and clinging—that medita- tion works with. When we fall for someone or something (face it, human beings are so easily love- struck we can fall for a car, a cell phone, or a brand of body wash), we feel pulled in the direction of the love object. When it’s a person, we feel a little lightness in our head, and warmth in various par ts of our body. We can literally become weak in the knees. We are pulled out of ourselves and want to connect, so we flirt or touch or dance; or more. The connecting par t seems so natural. We form bonds with all sor ts of people with degrees of connection varying from the mildly warm to the wildly passionate. But sometimes the power of the passion can be so great that we don’t just want to play and interact with the object of our love. We want to possess it, and own it. We grasp and cling, and we become uncomfor table—in the worst case scar y. We are stalking prey. When the game of love is played for keeps, it can take ever yone involved into some unpleasant emotional territor y. Practice AWARENESS OF FEELINGS The main meditative practice for love—as with anger—is to shine the light of AWARENESS on your thoughts and feelings, so you can discern the differences between openness and clinging. Keep noticing, without judging, what’s happening in your mind and body. Practice WISHING EVERYONE WELL Another beneficial practice is to broaden our love and caring to encompass more people. This kind of “UNIVERSAL LOVE” is beneficial to our own well-being and to those around us. It can also reduce clinging in all kinds of relationships—from the love for a child, sibling, or parent to the passionate love for a sexual par tner—because it takes the focus off of me...me...me. VISUALIZE OTHERS and repeat phrases of well-wishing. You can star t with yourself (be kind to yourself), then think of a loved one, then someone neutral, then someone difficult, then, if you like, the whole world. Repeat the phrases a few times with each type of person. May (I/they) be unharmed. May (I/they) be happy. May (I/they) be healthy. May (I/they) be at ease. Feelings of passion and love can make us so joyful. When they bring along with them intense attachment, they can also turn very painful and destructive. Love