One of my favorite movie scenes of all time is the opening airport scene in Love Actually. The move itself is an ode to all facets of love- compassion, joy, presence… just to name a few. And seriously- how many times have you heard about the power of Love? That it heals all; that it makes the world go round; that it is the answer to every evil. Songs, sonnets, epics, novels; movies- all about love. Spiritual traditions, religions, and societies all put Love on a pedestal; talk about the importance of loving thy neighbor and espouse the virtues of generosity, forgiveness, and acceptance- all facets of love.
But when you get right down to it- how often do you actually cultivate Love in your life? How often do you make any effort at all to recognize, reciprocate, and appreciate Love on a daily basis? How often have you missed it? Love isn’t just some grandiose gesture, it isn’t found in another person, and it can’t be confined to one expression… it can be found everywhere, if only we make the effort to see it.
This is what gets overlooked the most, actually- that Love is not just “love”. It’s so much more than the small box it gets often relegated to. Love is every moment of compassion, and the grace of forgiveness. It is the peace we feel as we look around a room at our favorite people, and the joy that springs to our hearts as we celebrate moments big and small. It is that deep sense of being authentic- of living life in alignment with who we are, and radiating that harmony through our whole being and into the lives of others. It is in every moment of generosity, every prayer of gratitude, every offering of acceptance. It is in the deep knowledge of our own invincibility: that we can overcome anything life throws at us, and in our ability to be present to everything life brings.
If you want to get in shape, you go to the gym. If you want to be a better chef, you make a lot of food. But what if you want to have more love in your life… How do you cultivate that?
How do you actually, in practice, cultivate love?
The short answer is that we cultivate love by cultivating the ten facets of its expression. Every time we experience any of them, we are feeling an element of Love. The difficulty is that it’s just so easy to only connect with them superficially. You can write three things you are grateful for, but if you are just filling out your gratitude journal for the day to check it off your to do list; if you don’t actually take a moment to truly feel into that deep appreciation, you aren’t *really* cultivating gratitude. If you tell someone you forgive them, but still harbor suffering around the situation, you haven’t truly practiced forgiveness.
As you start working with the facets, you quickly realize just how interconnected they all are. The good news, is that as much as that can lead you down a rabbit hole of realizing just how much more shadow work you need to do, it also means that as you get better at, say, connecting with joy in your life, you may also find it easier to be fully present (or the other way around). As you start living your life more in alignment with your true self, you naturally begin to be more at peace. They build upon each other.
Below I’m going to give you a few questions to help you get started contemplating your relationship with each aspect of the heart. Is this a good place to start? Absolutely… But just like anything else, unless you really set the intention and consciously work on connecting with these facets on a regular basis, you risk two things:
First, you won’t ever really be able to experience the gifts of cultivating the heart if you do this half-heartedly (pun intended). This is one of those things that I can talk about until I’m blue in the face, and you can read about until the cows come home…but until you actually carve out the time to have an intentional practice around cultivating love, you simply won’t see the transformational benefits.
Secondly, you may think you do a really good job already with a few of the ten facets, but I guarantee that you will be surprised at all the opportunities and nuances you’ve missed if you have not done this intentional exploration. Heart centered living is what I spend all day talking about with my clients, and yet, when I actually started tracking how often I purposely, intentionally, tap into each one of these facets, I realized that some of them I do every day almost without fail… And some of them? It’s been a month since I’ve done anything to bring them forth within me. And that’s why I now keep track of it daily- to hold myself accountable, to make sure that I stay consciously engaged with this work. The times in my life I have felt most alive, aligned, and at peace are also the times I have been the most intentional about staying connected with my heart.
So here we go- a reminder of the ten facets, and a few questions to contemplate in regards to each of them.
The Facets: Acceptance, Presence, Invincibility, Harmony, Generosity, Joy, Radiance, Gratitude, Compassion, Forgiveness
- What does this facet mean to me? How do I define it in my life?
- When was the last time I practiced this facet?
- How do I think about this facet in regards to myself? In regards to others?
- When do I feel this most easily? When is it most difficult?
- What would it mean if I could easily and effortlessly have this facet be part of my everyday existence?
What came up for you as you read those questions? Already, have you found that it was so easy to think about one facet, and then really uncomfortable to think about another? Did you breeze through the questions in regards to Peace, for instance, but then when you got to Generosity did you start feeling triggered?
The truth is that I’ve never met anyone who didn’t struggle with at least one of these ten facets, which is why I am so excited to be offering three courses in the New Year that break them down into three major categories for deeper exploration. You can read the full description if you click on the link for each course: Where’s the Bliss?, Finding Peace, and Remembering Unity. These courses are going to be offered back to back starting in mid January, and I encourage you to sign up for all three, but you are welcome to do just one or two.
Up until my mid thirties I really shied away from anything to do with the heart. I thought Love, while beautiful, was also dangerous. I thought living from the heart meant being unsafe and vulnerable. I would have laughed in your face if you had told me I would some day be promoting living from the heart- how insipid, how foolish, how soft…how Stupid!
But now? Now I know the truth. Now I know that there is no better way to experience the fullness and beauty life has to offer. Cultivating these ten facets is how we cultivate our best selves; it’s how we show up in a way this world desperately needs us to. It’s what gives us the courage to face anything, and the knowledge of our inner unwavering strength.
So please, whether it’s by yourself, with good friends, or with me- get curious and investigate the deepest experience of Love possible for you by cultivating the ten facets of the heart. Over the course of the next year (and probably forevermore) I will continue to write about each and give you further resources to deepen your study.