What is love actually? Is love a feeling? Is love a state of being? Is love an emotion? Is love a choice?
What does it mean when I say “I love you”?
And what does it mean to choose love?
For me, loving means accepting my partner and the people around me as they are.
So away from judging, towards acceptance.
How often does it happen in our everyday life that we have thoughts and judgments which separate us from other people and from ourselves?
I think we’ve all felt at one point in our lives that we were not good enough or unlovable.
This is why our ego developed certain survival strategies during childhood, which it mostly still uses today, even though we don’t really need those strategies anymore.
Most people have developed one of these two protective strategies:
They either try to present themselves as well as possible by criticizing and judging others.
Or they are their own biggest critic and make themselves small and invisible.
How often does this happen in our intimate relationships?
How often do we criticize our partner or withdraw because we are hurt?
How often do we get angry and blame our partner, or feel reinforced in our self-doubt and walk away disappointed?
Tantra is a spiritual path that is about learning to feel the connection to everything and also to live in more compassion and love.
So we can see this world as one big love school. We are all here to learn to love. And not just the others, but ourselves as well.
When we are born, we are most connected to ourselves and love. I observed with my young daughter in her first year how much pure love she was and how sensitive she was to her needs.
But as the ego forms more and more (which we also need to live in this world) we take on more and more beliefs from the people around us.
So we form a picture of reality and begin to believe that we as individuals are separate from other people and from nature.
We are all human, with all our “faults”. For me, loving means to love being human, to love life, to love myself more.
How can we learn this?
1. Learning to love oneself
First we can start with ourselves. In the moments when we make a mistake, we can learn to not beat ourselves up so badly.
We can learn to forgive ourselves faster and show compassion to ourselves.
A small example of how we can practically go into self-love is when we do something wrong.
Recently I broke a special glass at a friend’s house.
What happened inside of me? My body tensed first, then the head kicked in, the inner critic came up and criticized wildly.
You’re so stupid!
Be more mindful!
Why do you have to put the glass so close to the edge?
Why don’t you take better care?
Self-criticism is known to be the harshest criticism.
Additionally, emotions such as guilt, shame, anger and resentment arise.
Through meditation practice and mindfulness, I’ve learned to identify these emotions faster and watch the story in my head.
In these moments I go into an observer position, listen to the inner critic, but no longer believe everything he tells me.
At the same time, I think about what a good friend, a loving partner, or even love would say to me in this situation? So I can create a counterbalance to the critic.
This can calm the storm of thoughts inside of me and I can start to feel my body and my heart again. Then there is room for compassion.
When the tension (“fight or flight” mode) releases, acceptance of the situation can take place, and with it love.
2. Learning to love others
Parallel to self-love, we can of course also practice giving love to other people or our partner… even when they supposedly deserve it the least.
So in conflict situations, this means learning to step out of judgment and to accept the other person as they are.
An example of this is when Meli used to trigger or criticize me.
Especially when I wanted to initiate sex. She felt under pressure, alarm bells went on in her head and most of the time she angrily rejected me.
Of course I was hurt at that moment and I always withdrew emotionally at first… went into my “cave”.
I decided to protect myself and withdrew my love from Meli.
It was also a kind of indirect feedback: “If you talk to me like that, I’m gone (at least emotionally)”.
I also hoped that Meli would notice that something was wrong and hopefully see that she had made a mistake. So it was also a kind of punishment, especially since I knew that she hated it when I stopped talking to her.
But the whole dynamic didn’t help either of us in the end and just pulled us further apart.
After a lot of loops and repetitions in the negative pattern, I had enough. I wanted to learn to stay connected to Meli, even in those difficult moments.
In order to transform my own behavior, I asked myself what actually prevents me from staying in love.
I became aware of my triggers and paused in the specific situation to feel the fear, the pain and the hurt (from childhood)…
The fear of not being loved the way I am…
The fear of being abandoned…
I’ve worked with those fears, loved myself in those moments and asked myself: “Do I want to live that fear for the rest of my life, or do I want to break out of it?”
Of course, the decision to love involves a certain risk, because I could get hurt. But what’s the worst that can happen?
So I put the fear into perspective. It often happens in life that some things seem much bigger than they really are.
Like most people, I was constantly trying to minimize pain and maximize positive feelings. So it was important for me to learn how to allow fear to be in my life more, to feel it and then decide for love anyways.
It was about becoming aware and making a conscious decision.
As I got better and better at staying connected to Meli, even in difficult moments, I was also able to see what was going on with her.
I was able to see behind the surface and realize that her criticism was also just a self-defense to avoid feeling her own frustration with the issue of sex… her fear of failing and not being a good partner if she wasn’t feeling it or couldn’t really enjoy the sex.
Here it helped me to step out of the story in my head again and look at the situation from a bird’s eye view.
And suddenly, all the fear, judgment, and anger turned into love and compassion. Suddenly I didn’t want to punish Meli anymore, but to help her… to solve this topic together.
This has brought a lot of healing into our lives and made things easier in our relationship.
3. Learning to receive love
The ability to love not only has to do with giving love to others, but also with being able to accept it from outside. It was incredibly difficult for me for a long time.
An example of this was at the beginning of our relationship, when I came pretty quickly during sex. I was disappointed in myself, judged myself and felt ashamed.
When Meli wanted to give me love in the situation and told me that it wasn’t so bad, I had a lot of parts that resisted it.
I first had to learn to open myself to love.
In order to overcome the resistance to this, I did a lot of physical work, felt tension in my body, breathed, consciously relaxed there, learned to let go and allow more and more of Meli’s love in.
In the beginning it felt pretty unfamiliar, which makes sense because it was completely new to me. But practice helped me and It got better each time. I could relax my body more and allow love.
In addition, I also dealt with my beliefs about self-worth.
Today it feels incredibly good to receive love from Meli. When she looks at me with a loving look and is there to hold me in moments in which I doubt myself.
In these moments I learn that I am ok the way I am. I can heal old wounds and learn to love myself more.
Getting that love from another person is a priceless gift.
How beautiful life would be if we could all integrate this into our everyday life.
Love is the ultimate remedy when it comes to healing old wounds and we can learn to choose love again and again every day.
One easy way is to keep asking yourself: What would love do in this situation?
4.Tantra practice for more love
Another and deeper aspect of Tantra is the practice of “trans-figuration” – looking behind the outer “figure” or facade.
Seeing the divine spark and unlimited potential in the other person, so to speak.
This can be done in a formal meditation by gazing into each other’s eyes for a long time. As it isn’t without reason that we say “the eyes are the gates of our soul”.
It’s about seeing with the “eyes of love” and accepting the other person as they are.
Or additionally, to see what the person may not even see themselves: all the unlived abilities, qualities and the unlimited love that lies dormant deep in each of us.
In the last step, the true art consists of cultivating this way of seeing yourself, your partner and the whole world. Not only in the Tantra ritual, but also in every moment of our everyday life.
Because what we see becomes reality. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So often I see in my coaching sessions with couples how they talk bad about their partner.
You are so lazy and selfish. You never help me around the house.
Can’t you even make an effort to finish things?
If we strengthen these images, they too will eventually become reality.
But if we reinforce positive imagery, we can help our partner see what we see in them. We can practice this very well in our relationship
Not only that. We can also extend this practice to other people, and to the whole of everyday life.
This is where we eventually want to get to in our Tantric practice.
Loving everything about and in this world. To celebrate the miracle of life. To see love, wisdom, truth and beauty in every human being.
To discover, see, understand the play of the universe in every aspect of our humanity and to become the creator of our lives and our reality.