What is Your Definition of Love?


 

let-love-leadShakespeare described love as a “many splendored thing,” which is like calling New York City a “place where a lot of people live.” Love is such an elusive concept that we are forced to look at the external ways we love to describe the internal emotion.

For example, how many ways is love defined on Valentine’s Day? Look at the messages that are posted on that day, and you will find phrases like, “I love you to pieces,” “You complete me,” or even a comparison with a beloved pet, such as “I love you as much as my dog loves me.”

What is it about love that is so hard to grasp? Instead of defining love from the outside-in, why not try a different approach?

A New Way to Look at Love

Take a moment and ask yourself, “What is my definition of love?” Write down the first thoughts that pop into your mind. You may have thought about something that someone did for you or an act of kindness that you gave to someone else. Look at what you wrote down and see if these words sprang from your mind.

The mind is influenced by the messages from the external world. Commercialism, consumerism, and consumption all create an impact on your definition of love. Don’t believe me? Take a look around, and you might spot these messages that are motivated by the need to buy:

“Buy this diamond ring to show her how much you love her.”

“Show someone how much you love them. Give them ______.” (the blank is filled in by what is being advertised).

“When you love someone, show them how much.” (the implication is to buy that product, and it will convey your love for you).

These are love’s definitions of the intellect or mind.

There is another way to see love. It comes from the quiet, still space inside, where words do not live. This space is where your knowing resides, that sense of connection to something much bigger than you. This is your being, your essence, the center of you.

Let’s try to discover your definition of love from that place of being.

Sit quietly, close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Allow your body to sink into the chair and melt. Your mind quiets as you continue to breathe. When you are ready, allow the answer to “What is love?” to rise from your heart. Don’t question what comes up, just sit in receiving and continue to breathe.

You will know when you have your answer. In fact, it is that knowingness that you connect with each time you enter this calm, still space. See if you can’t feel the quality of that knowingness, the energy that fills up that space.

While you are in that energy, do you feel loved? Do you feel accepted? Do you feel whole and complete? The answer to these questions is obvious because this is the energy you came from, where you were created and where you will return once your body has finished doing its job.

Moving Forward

When you have connected to that knowing energy, love no longer needs to be defined. It simply is who-you-are. Love is your teacher and gently shows you how to navigate in the world. No longer of the world, you are aware of how much bigger a life you can live from love.

Love does not see with the eyes of judgment, doubt or fear. It does not hold expectations of others that cause you pain when those expectations go unmet. Love does not wait to give or receive. It just IS.

One way to stay in touch with the IS-ness of love is to meditate every day. Spend time in the still place within, and you will discover that you will show up differently in the outside world. No longer concerned about the opinions of others, no longer sensitive to being overlooked or not enough, your relationships and circumstances will change.

Make a note of how people respond to you differently. Those who are critical or judgmental will fall away because you are no longer accepting their negative energy. Doubt and fear of your own value and abilities are distant memories. You show up as a wholehearted, centered human being.

As you notice these differences in yourself, your relationships and your world, it will dawn on you:

When you become the embodiment of love, you are enough.

Because in the end, YOU are the definition of love! You are the one to express love to the world in the unique way that only you can accomplish. You are the embodiment, heart, and soul of love.

Bio:  A Mindfulness & Enneagram Teacher, Kathryn Eriksen has led the life of the intellect (as a lawyer) and discovered that happiness could not be bought, acquired or achieved. Please join Kathryn in a 3 day video course called “The Heart Dancing  Mini-Course” and become part of the Heart Dancing Tribe!

 

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Ask This Question to Stay Present


I want to share something that happened on my way home from a women’s retreat. As I stepped on the plane, I stopped and glanced down the aisle. I was the last person in the A boarding group, so 59 people were already seated (this was Southwest Airlines, after all).

AirlineSeatsAs I looked at mostly bent heads of my fellow passengers, a question pop into my head that I had never considered before. It made all the difference in my awkward shuffle down the aisle, pushing my suitcase and balancing a heavy backpack on my shoulder.

The question I asked myself, just before walking down the aisle was, “Who is awake and aware?”

I passed many people who were looking down at their phone or other electronic devices. Not sure if they were aware of anything but the digital images dancing in front of their eyes. They certainly were not looking for anyone who was awake and aware, because they were closed in their own cocoon.

I kept pushing my suitcase, adjusting my backpack, looking for anyone who was awake and aware.

And then, it happened. From about 3 rows in front of me – I found someone! He looked directly at me, our eyes connecting for several seconds. I felt his presence, and I know he felt mine! There was an unseen but definite connection that occurred in that brief span of time. Human being to human being.

What a gift to bring to such a mundane activity! It kept me present, in the moment, and completely free to find the perfect seat. It was amazing how alive I felt just being in this simple practice.

I have decided to make this a game that I play in crowded spaces. The shopping mall, the airport, even at a gas station. How many people can I discover who are awake and aware?

There is a subtle shift in my energy when I ask this question. I am more aware of my fellow humans, and I connect with them on another level. I feel almost instant recognition when I do find another person who is awake and aware. The cool thing is that I can see that immediate recognition in their eyes too!

Please join me in this game. As you look for people who are awake and aware, you will experience being awake and aware yourself. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

Post your experiences here for all to enjoy!

 

 

Fact v. Interpretation – Does it Matter?


little-girl-759x675What was your first thought when you saw this photo? Did you feel a tug on your heart because the girl seems sad or lonely? Did the scene remind you of something in your childhood? Or did you decide that the girl is expecting someone to arrive and she is patiently waiting?

Whatever your first thought, the fact remains that this is merely a photograph of a young girl staring out a window. Nothing more, nothing less.

In the absence of data, we create meaning.  – Brene Brown

In the absence of data, our minds are wired to jump in and create a story about what is in front of us. It’s the way we protect ourselves, by injecting meaning into data that would otherwise be without context.

The meaning we attach to data is heavily influenced by our past, our beliefs and our current emotional state. These layers of perspective can ebb and flow from moment to moment, causing confusion and disrupting our focus and our relationships.

We interpret neutral facts to fit our worldview.

Has the following ever happened to you?

One morning, when I opened my work emails, I felt a surge of anger as I started reading a message from a colleague. I was in charge of an important project, and she was offering her unsolicited advice while copying my boss. We had been at odds before since we were on the same level in the company and we were both ambitious and competitive.

To say that I was not happy is an understatement.

Instead of taking a moment to calm myself and allow the strong emotion to pass through me (studies show that it takes up to 90 seconds for an emotion to run its course), I stormed down the hall to her office. I was ready for a confrontation and adrenaline was pumping through my body. My breathing was shallow, my muscles were tense, and my brain was in fight mode.

Bring it on sister!

Fortunately for me, I was stopped by another colleague who was a bit older and who knew me well enough to see the signs of an impending confrontation. He pulled me into his office and made me sit down. Without saying a word, he sat behind his desk and took several deep breaths.

I was not about to lose my mojo. I got up to leave, but he motioned for me to sit. As I looked at him, I found myself mimicking his breathing and felt the charge leave my body. After several seconds, he raised an eyebrow and invited me to share what was going on.

I learned a lot that day about myself and the dangers of interpretation. I avoided a harmful confrontation that would have had potentially drastic consequences on my career. I also discovered that just because I felt something strongly does not mean that the feeling was accurate. Interrupting the flow of emotions long enough to calmly evaluate the situation saved me from an embarrassing incident.

There is always thought before the emotion. Emotions do not rise by themselves. They rise because a thought, belief or interpretation has triggered the emotion.

Let’s put all of this together.

We know that in the absence of data, we create our own meaning, based on our worldview (remember the story you created about the little girl in the photograph?). We also know that there is always thought before emotion.

So what happens when we misinterpret the situation, motive or event and then act on the resulting feeling? It never ends well. The other person does not share our worldview and probably will not understand the depth of emotion we display. Animosity, mistrust, and conflict are possible results.

Unless we learn to recognize when we have entered the zone of emotional reaction, which causes your body to tense and our brain to scream, “I can’t take this anymore!” Become aware of your own sequence, interrupt it with mindfulness techniques and then reassess the situation before acting.

To learn more about these techniques that you can use immediately, please schedule a 15 minute appointment with me: Click HERE. I offer personalized meditations and coaching, as well as in-person training (in the Dallas/Fort Worth area).

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance!

What is a Dog’s Purpose?


Dogs are unconditional  love. Anyone who has experienced a strong relationship with dogs recognizes that truth. They are unconditional love.

On January 27, 2017, the beloved novel, A Dog’s Purpose, by W. Bruce Cameron will hit the big screens. But a controversy has marred the event and an online petition calls for the filmmakers to donate proceeds to animal welfare organizations.

What does all of that mean for dog lovers who can’t wait to see the movie?

Dennis Quaid, the two-legged star of the movie, said that he “never saw any abuse of any animal. If there had been, I would have walked.”

Watch Quaid’s interview with ET.  Or watch Ellen Degeneres interview Quaid and then make a passionate plea for people to support the movie.

Please don’t believe everything you see in your Facebook feed. Decide for yourself if the controversy is enough for you to not watch a great family movie that tells the truth about dogs.

Dogs are unconditional love. Perhaps more people should model themselves after dogs. kiss-meIt’s just another step in the Heart Dance <3.

This Song Called Life


Life is the deep current moving through everything that is born, lives and dies. It is the energy of the Universe, circling through it all, weaving a silken thread of connection between the living and the unseen. Life is what unites us during our experiences inside time and space.

the-song-of-lifeWhat is the Song of Life?

You know it when you allow yourself to feel it. It has no language of its own, no agenda to achieve. It just is.

Allowing the Song of Life to play can be a challenge. As humans, we want to mold Life in our image, shifting and turning it to fit our expectations and desires. But Life is immutable, indestructible and illusive to control.

We want to write the music when our role is to dance.

So what are we to do with the Song of Life? How do we manage our desire to control with Life’s innate ability to slip away in unpredictable directions?

You surrender to the energy that is greater than you.

You allow the Universal energy to flow through your life, guiding you with gentle nudges and subtle clues.

You accept that you are part of Life, but Life is bigger than you. You did not create Life. Life created you.

Once you shift your relationship with Life, an interesting process happens. Your fears, anxieties and concerns drop away. You can’t control Life, so why worry about the drama your mind created to separate you from Life?

Another benefit to releasing control is that you see others from a different perspective. Instead of judging their words or actions, you see through the lens of grace. You assume that they are doing the best they can in this moment of their awareness. And you hold the space for them to experience Life, through you.

As you allow Life to flow through you in this human form, you recover your connection to the Universe. It was there all along, but your desire to control set up a barrier. That wall is gone and you now begin to hear the hymn of the angels.

Hallelujah. Hallelujah.

Breathe in the song of Life. Breathe out your expectations, judgment and concerns. Repeat and step into your greatness as Life’s dance partner, knowing you are safe, protected and loved. Allow the song of Life to lead you and you will never lose your way again.

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance 🙂

Follow Your Dog’s Lead


I went to visit a friend whose sister had just had a baby less than one year before. My friend and I had not seen each other and we were busy catching up, when her sister walked in the room with the baby. She was sound asleep and her small round face was framed by her peaceful features, completely relaxed.

 

The three of us talked quietly as the baby slept. When the baby began to move and stretch we-all-start-out-as-loveas she was coming awake, her mother did something I have never seen before.

She picked up her daughter and cradled her with one arm, so the baby was facing her. As the baby opened her eyes, her mother raised her up so they were almost at eye-level. And they both smiled in recognition of each other.

It was a tender moment of connection. It was mutual acknowledgment and love. It was a perfect example of being seen.

Humans have a deep seated need to be seen.

Not for their aspirations, accomplishments or achievements. But to be seen for their naked, unadorned self. Without judgment, criticism or ridicule.

When you were an infant, new to this human experience, you never doubted that you were seen. In fact, you were more comfortable in the other world where you came from, than you were in this new world of physical sensations, restricted energy and embodiment.

Just like my friend’s baby, there was no doubt that she was seen and loved. You were that way when you took your first breath, when you felt that blanket wrapped around you, holding you close.

What stops you from being seen? Your stories.

Stories are the interpretation you place on the stream of life that flows through your awareness. When your story is negative, judgmental or makes you “less than,” you have stopped the flow and anchored the energy inside of you. As the moments continue to flow through your awareness, your story adds a filter that allows only that information that supports the story.

At the most fundamental level, you see your life through the lens of your stories, instead of what is really there. You make decisions or withhold your authentic self because of your distorted view. As you interact with other people, their stories come into play and you begin reacting to their story, filtered through your story.

No wonder you might feel misunderstood, alone and unworthy!

There is a better way and it is probably lying at your feet right now. Your dog knows how to let go of the past and stay fully aware in the present moment.Drop the Leash3

   Dogs are unconditional love walking around on four legs.

Why are they so good at it? Because they can’t create stories around the moments that pass in front of them. They see clearly and remain connected to their essence.

It really isn’t that complicated or difficult. Just be unconditional love in every moment. To learn more from a very special dog named Avatar, please click on Drop the Leash.

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance <3.

What Does Your Dog Know (that you forgot)


Ever notice that your dog returns to love much faster than you? When your dog gets his feelings hurt (if you don’t believe dogs have feelings, this is the point where you jump to another blog post), he will instantly return to adoration the minute you make amends.

Do you do that – return to love after you release the hurt? Or do you hang onto your hurt and nurse it like a cold beverage on a hot day?

Drop the Leash3The more I paid attention to my dog, the more I realized that I could learn a lot about being love. That is why I decided to write, Drop the Leash: Let Go of the Past and Love in the Present.

The analogy of a leash hits home with many people. It’s one thing to put the leash on your dog to restrain him; quite another when you effectively “leash” your own growth because of your past, limiting stories.

One reader proclaimed that “This book will quickly become a standard ‘training manual’ in many circles…I have already begun flipping my view of the world…”

Drop the Leash is a tongue-in-cheek guide written by a human, as told by a dog, about the dog’s observations of humans. Playful, satirical and wise, the narrator is a sassy dog named Avatar who tells it like it is.

Another person suggested that “If we follow the loving examples of dogs, we can play and experience joy as we were meant to. This story truly touches the heart and a must read for anyone on a spiritual journey.”

To learn more about the book (and see my other products), please visit KathrynEriksen.com.

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance <3.