Open Your Heart to Love
By Dr. Tim Ong
Many people live a life without love. They cannot love themselves, and therefore they cannot love anyone else. Some even feel that they do not deserve love. The sad fact is that without love, no matter what else you have in life, it's not enough. We need to love ourselves unconditionally in order to live fully.
The love I'm referring to here is not romantic love. Love here refers to unconditional, universal love and respect for life - yours and everyone else's. We are all capable of this type of love. In fact, if we can strip ourselves of all our negative emotions, imprints and ego, what remains is pure, unconditional love. That is who or what we are underneath all the layers of impurities that we have accumulated.
The problem is that we have forgotten how to love. We have to learn to open our heart to love again.
OPEN YOUR HEART TO LOVE
There are four steps involved in opening our heart to love:
First, we have to accept that we are capable of love - pure, unconditional, selfless love! We have to accept the need to express this form of love in our life in order to live fully.
Next, we have to learn to forgive - ourselves and everyone else, especially those whom have hurt us in the past. Learning to forgive is not a choice. It is a necessity! We need to forgive in order to heal ourselves and make ourselves whole again. If we cannot forgive, we cannot move forward. We will continue to carry old wounds and burdens with us. When we forgive, we let go of all these wounds and burdens, and instantly feel lighter and stronger to move forward.
Forgiving does not mean forgetting. It means we're willing to let go of the past and willing to give ourselves the freedom to start afresh without encumbering ourselves with the old wounds. We remember the lessons without bitterly holding on to the pain. We do not wish to blame anyone anymore. There are three types of forgiveness:
- Forgiving those who have hurt us
- Forgiving ourselves for hurting others
- Forgiving ourselves for hurting ourselves
TO ERR IS HUMAN, TO FORGIVE DIVINE
Forgiveness is an expression of compassion. Our compassion should not be extended to just other beings but also to ourselves. If we are not compassionate to ourselves, it is difficult to show true compassion to others. So forgive yourself!
Our life is an expression of all our mental and emotional imprints. All these imprints find expression outwardly in our life sooner or later. The sooner they are expressed, the more liberating it feels. Bottled up inside, the negative imprints can grow into something potentially more harmful and malignant. We need to give these negative imprints a chance to be expressed so that we can release all the pent up energies we hold inside us - energies that can manifest physically as illnesses and emotionally as fear, anger, frustration, guilt, doubt and lack of self-esteem.
Here are some suggestions on ways to express yourself and transform negative, pent up energies into positive, liberating energies...
- Sharing with trusted friends and support groups
- Professional counselling or therapy
Action here refers to actual acts of loving-kindness in our lives. Like all habits, we need to integrate this into our daily lives in order for it to become a part of us.
Here are some exercises to help generate more feeling of loving-kindness towards all beings:
- Loving-Kindness Meditation
Generating unconditional love requires effort at first. The Buddhist's Metta Meditation is a good meditation to help generate unconditional love towards all beings.
- Eliminating Prejudices
Universal love is unconditional and without any bias or prejudice. If you have a certain prejudice towards certain people or race, try to make an extra effort to love them unconditionally. For example, if you are biased against Muslims in general, make an extra effort to seek out Muslim orphanages or old folks homes to give gifts during a New Year celebration or a special occasion.
- Perform an Unconditional Act of Love Daily
There are many things you can do daily to show your unconditional love. For example, we often do not notice the mailman, or the garbage collector. In the office, we often do not notice the tea lady and maintenance staff. Do you know who sweeps your office daily? Make an effort to know these people as a person.