The concept of Love

I facilitate a regular online meditation sessions and recently we commenced a new series “Nurturing Relationships”.

These sessions for me are a wonderful opportunity to reflect on my own experiences, to share what is helping me live a beautiful life and pay forward the empowering teachings of the One World Academy

From my own personal journey and my experience as a One World Academy instructor I have come to see that the practice of awareness is key to the experience of love, compassion and connection. From a place of awareness love emerges and grows and this has certainly been my experience.

DSCN3029-001

When we are aware of ourselves, our thoughts and responses we are able to take responsibility for our state of being in the world, we can choose the contribution we make to our relationships and to our world, we can choose how we want to experience life. This for me is an empowering and beautiful practice, one that has helped me reconnect to love in my close relationships.

Taking responsibility for our inner state of being is one of the most important things we can do to nurture love in our relationships.

Bringing Awareness to Your Concept of Love

What does love mean to you? This is a big question……..but one worth taking some time to reflect upon.

Is love something you want to cultivate in your life?

Is there an absence of love in your life? How long do you feel love has been absent?

Does your idea, your concept of love match your experience of life and relationships?

Have you ever questioned your concept of love?

Being aware of our concept of love helps us to see new possibilities for growth, joy and connection in relationships

The experience of love is one of spaciousness, it is an expansive creative state, it connects, it includes – is this your experience of love? Or perhaps love has felt constrictive, conditional, exclusive, desperate or just not there?

For many of us love has become a concept, a concept based on our past experiences, on our expectations, on our need for validation, on our need to be at peace with ourselves. Love has become an ideal, associated with expectations rather than a lived experience.

DSCN2687-001

We love the idea of love, we idealise love, we make it the goal, the final destination in relationships, we define it and put in a box, we feel it and we expect it to remain the same. When we don’t feel it we fret, we make the other wrong, we doubt the relationship, at times we feel desperate. We want the other to meet our needs or be a certain way. We make conditions; we set traps and want the other to make up for our own insecurities.

Is it really possible for love to be experienced or to grow in such situations?

For me it has been valuable to also ask the question is my experience of love dependent on a situation or how the other behaves or measures up to my expectations? I would have never said that I love conditionally…..…..until I started practicing awareness that is, and I saw for myself, just how conditional love had become for me, that at times I would give it as a reward, other times I would take it away as a punishment. Initially this was hard for me to see about myself, but the more I practiced the more I saw that only in awareness could I see new possibilities in my relationships.

Perhaps you can to relate to this?

The Absence of Love

I posed the question before is there an absence of love in your life? Is it true – is love really absent?

What is really happening when we think that love is absent?

The answer to this emerges when we ask ourselves what makes the difference between the experience of love and the absence of love?

Just yesterday I had cause to reflect on this. I was returning to a place I love, with people I love…..but I was not feeling the same experience of love, I was not awestruck by peace and beauty. I chose to observe myself and I saw that I was embroiled in so many thoughts, I was feeling overwhelmed and conflicted. Seeing this I knew I had a choice to stay stuck in my thoughts on a runaway train going somewhere else or to acknowledge the thoughts but pay attention and stay present where I was. Then voila! the same beauty and peace were there, the feeling of my heart softening and opening was there, it was there all the time…..it was only me that had moved away from it……

This idea was a profound awakening for me at my first Freedom in Living retreat at the One World Academy – I had gone to this retreat wanting to find a way to reconnect to my husband and children, I was feeling disconnected and disillusioned. Over the course of the week it was like a slow but steady stream of pennies dropping, seeing how much love I was surrounded by, how much I had to be grateful for, how many problems there weren’t and I’ll never forget my children’s voices and faces appearing in one of the meditations telling me so clearly – “the love was always there Mummy, you were the one that went away, we want you to come back“.

Is it perhaps possible to see that love is always here – that its just that often we don’t pay attention to it, that often we don’t feel it because we have moved away from it when we become embroiled in our thoughts, that we don’t recognise it because we are clinging onto our concept of love?

Do you recognise and connect to the love that is all around you, here and NOW?

Love and connection just like happiness are internal experiences they have little to do with external situations, they are nurtured in awareness and this is absolutely an ongoing process, not a final destination we reach.

I wholeheartedly encourage you to bring awareness to your concept of love, to grow in awareness and understanding of yourself, so that you can take responsibility for what you bring to your relationships and contribute to our world.

Please share your experiences with us in the comments as we learn and grow together.

May the light of awareness shine in our lives and allow us to see the love that is all around us, here and NOW.

Namaste,

Bianca

P.S. If you are ready to embrace yourself and nurture your relationships with awareness please consider joining us for the Nurturing Relationships online series

Advertisements

Creating a Vision for An Extraordinary Quality of Life

And so 2014 is coming to an end and, we are about to welcome in a New Year, a new beginning. For me it is an ideal time to reflect upon the vision I have for my life and what it means to live an extraordinary quality of life.

How do you prepare for the transition to a New Year?

Are you in the habit of making New Years Resolutions? Do you stick with your resolutions?

Do you have a vision for your life?

As I reflect on my vision for my life I keep coming back to an important point, one that has transformed my experience of life. And that point is…..We are each responsible for the quality of our life and for our experience of happiness or suffering.

What was your experience of life in 2014? I encourage you to take a few moments to reflect upon this.

What are the words you would use to describe the year?

Have you ended the year where you wanted to be?

Is it a surprise to see where you are today?

Are you dismayed to find you are experiencing the same conflicts and challenges just like you were last year…..and the year before?

How do you feel about your experiences within your relationships?

Is there any relationship that needs to be nurtured or healed?

DSCN3800-001

I have come to realise that any changes that I want to see or feel in life need to begin with me and I believe it’s the same for you.

Do you have a vision for your life?

A vision guides your life, a vision gives you strength and reminds you of your purpose in times of challenge and let’s face it there will be challenges in life, a vision helps you to hang in there until the next step becomes clear.

I didn’t realise just how important a vision was until recently and I was surprised to find that I was living without a vision, that in many ways I was waiting for life to happen around me without being an active participant and playing my part in the web of life.

My mentors at the One World Academy have opened my eyes to a new understanding of what a vision is and what it means to live an extraordinary quality of life.

A vision is not about what you want to achieve, it’s not the same as having goals, it is more than just making New Years resolutions. A vision is more about how you want to experience life, how you want to interact with others and experience relationships, the contribution you want to make in the world, rather than what “success” you want to achieve, the holidays you want to take, the amount of money you want to earn…..

Please don’t get me wrong, it is fine to have goals, make resolutions, to be successful and celebrate your achievements. However, we often prioritise external growth, accumulation and goals at the expense of our inner growth and paying attention to the moments of life. Often we don’t live our life with the understanding that happiness is a choice that we each need to make and that we are the creators of our destiny.

I sincerely believe this is worth our time and energy to cultivate a vision for living a beautiful life. For me creating a vision increases and enhances the passion and purpose you experience in life and what the world needs is more people living with passion and purpose.

What creates an extraordinary quality of life?

Is it a successful career? Is it earning a huge income? Is it having dream house full of the latest designs and gadgets? Is it travelling all over the world? Is it having the perfect partner and children? Is it achieving perfect health?

All of these situations can change in a moment…..so what then?

What if we lose our successful career, if we can’t find the perfect partner, if our children don’t live up to our expectations, if our house is destroyed by fire, if our income decreases or disappears?

Does this mean that we won’t be able to experience an extraordinary quality of life and that happiness will elude us?

Are the world’s richest people the happiest people? Are the world’s poorest people the unhappiest?

What does it mean to live an extraordinary quality of life?

For me it is about how we experience life, rather than what we do, have or achieve in life. To live an extraordinary quality of life is about experiencing connection, ease, peace, calm, joy, happiness and acceptance of yourself and others. You realise you are a part of the web of life and you take responsibility for your choices and actions.

I have come to see that an extraordinary quality of life is not dependent on external circumstances…..rather it’s entirely dependent on internal circumstances, that is, my state of mind, my inner environment.  Living an extraordinary quality of life does not mean I will not have challenges, but I am more able to handle and rise above those challenges. Living an extraordinary quality of life is much more than merely enjoying life, it is about having a beautiful impact on those around you, it is about contributing peace, love, tolerance, understanding, joy and connection to our world…..and I believe that this is what our world needs most. Living an extraordinary quality of life has only become possible through the creation of a vision for my life.

I will ask you again….

Do you have a vision for your life? Do you have a vision for your relationships?

Roman philosopher Seneca once said,

“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable”

It’s the same when we live without a vision…..how will you know which direction to take, which opportunities will lead you in the direction you are seeking? Will you be inspired to even try to live a beautiful life, to create beautiful relationships?

Creating a vision for your life comes from the understanding that we are each responsible for our own happiness and experience of life and that we live in an interconnected world where we impact life around us every moment.

We are all one – so what you do for yourself, you do for the world, how you choose to live, impacts others.

Does this inspire you to create a vision to experience an extraordinary quality of life or to reflect on your concept of living with a vision?

Creating a vision is an opportunity to create a beautiful destiny!!

A vision to live a happy life, to experience peace and joy, to cultivate and express gratitude becomes a gift that we can give to the world, we can choose the legacy we want to leave behind. It’s an opportunity too good to pass up!

An important aspect of creating a vision is to know yourself, to look within. In this link I share with you a guided meditation to deepen your awareness of the experience of happiness in life.

I wholeheartedly encourage you to create a vision for all aspects of your life, particularly your relationships – see yourself living a beautiful life and leaving a beautiful legacy in the world. 

Are you ready to look within and create a beautiful vision for your life? Please let me know if I can support you on your journey.

Wishing you a peaceful and joyful end to 2014 and many beautiful new beginnings in 2015.

Namaste, Bianca

P.S. As you are creating your intentions and vision for your life you may like to consider joining me for the Freedom in Living 7-day retreat at the One World Academy in 2015. This is an incredible opportunity to reconnect to your passion and purpose in life and to experience a beautiful new consciousness. 

P1020727

 

Love Grows in Awareness

In the recent post Ten Things learnt from Ten Years of Marriage I mentioned that I have not always been clear about my vision for my relationship with my husband – I think in many ways I thought the love between us would just take care of itself.

Over the past few years I have undertaken more of an inner journey and have been delighted at the benefits this has yielded for my experience of life, love and marriage. It has been an interesting process to observe my thinking, to see the reality of my situation and how it often differed from my perceptions of a situation and it has been humbling to realise that in unawareness I have not always acted in a loving and generous way to people close to me, particularly my husband.

I was shocked to realise how much blame I had been directing towards my husband for a whole range of things, many of which he knew nothing about, most of which were not his responsibility but the feelings of blame and growing resentment were certainly impacting the quality of our relationship and my interactions with him.

If you had have asked me what is driving our relationship I would have told you that of course it is love and connection and respect – I wanted to believe that this was the case, that’s what holds a marriage together isn’t it?

But it was deeply troubling me that on many occasions I wasn’t feeling connected, I didn’t feel loving. In the past it was easy to make my husband wrong, to blame him for the way I felt, to feel that things would be better when he changed.

In awareness I have seen that it has been my concept of love that needs changing, not my husband, I have seen that the driving forces in our relationship were not exactly as I’d hoped.

Let me share a little story with you……

Quite some months ago while we were travelling, my husband hurt his back and we needed to take a few extra rest days. This had happened before, but his back took a little longer than usual to heal. I found myself becoming grumpy and short with him over those few days, to be honest I wanted to jump on a plane and fly anywhere but stay there and watch him struggle with his back. I felt deeply conflicted – why I couldn’t just accept the situation, just love him for better or worse, be supportive while he found his own way. I became embroiled in my thoughts and felt more and more disconnected from him.

I began to take some time each day to simply quieten my mind and observe my thoughts. I saw that I was feeling resentful and judging him, I was comparing him to others, I was thinking “if only he would take my advice; if only he had been more pro-active up to now this wouldn’t have happened, we wouldn’t be stuck here; if only he would pursue an alternative path, if only he would take his healing seriously, why can’t he be more aware of his body and what it needs for wellbeing??”

Is it any wonder I wasn’t feeling connected and loving towards him?!

A few days later I had an interesting and very liberating insight – as I saw my husband walking back towards our camp in his wetsuit after being out diving for abalone I was struck at how attractive I found him in that moment, in that particular physical state and role, how much I appreciated him. A few days prior I did not feel attracted or connected to him, it was difficult to feel compassion as he experienced pain. I smiled at myself as I remembered telling him as he was stretching his back how attractive he looks doing yoga, how I love to see him caring for himself in these ways…….AHA!

In unawareness I was confusing this for love, instead they were the images of him that I had idealised.

I realised it was not possible to relate to him from this viewpoint – my concept of love was conditional and my happiness dependent on what he does or does not do. I was reminded of the words of Thomas Merton….

“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” 

Does this story resonate with you?

Do you value relationships and nurturing happiness?

Here are some questions that may be helpful in reflecting on your own experiences. Please ask yourself:

What is my idea of the perfect relationship, the perfect partner?

Is it possible for me or my partner to always live up to this ideal?

What is my concept of love? What is my personal experience of love?

Do I have a preconceived expectation of what a relationship should be and do I judge and compare my relationships and partner based on this?

Do I hold my partner (or others) responsible for the discomfort I feel when their action is inconsistent with my expectations?

What is the consequence of this blaming? Does it contribute to growing and happy relationships?

For me, by paying attention to my thoughts I have been able to recognise the driving forces in my marriage and other relationships. And from this recognition I have been able to see that I have a choice to respond and act from a state of inner conflict or I can choose to nurture a more aware and loving state of being.

Over time I will be sharing some other examples of how the practice of awareness is helping me to experience a greater quality and depth of love, connection and joy in my relationships. It is my hope by sharing my experiences that others may be inspired to ask questions, reflect on their own experiences and to nurture beautiful relationships.

I gratefully acknowledge the beautiful teachings and support from my mentors at the One World Academy in inspiring my journey and this article.

The world needs more loving, conscious relationships and what greater gift can we give to our children than for them to see the adults around them living and relating to each other with honesty, compassion, gratitude, kindness and experiencing deep connection and joy?

Ten Things Learnt from Ten Years of Marriage

My husband and I recently celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. For me it was the celebration of an important yet unexpected milestone – I feel like I am now truly ready to commit to cultivating a beautiful marriage. Until recently I had not been wearing my wedding ring very often (I even left it packed in a box in storage as we travelled around Australia!), I often found it easy to give excuses why it didn’t suit me to wear it.

Our marriage started well, but despite the fact we wrote our own vows for our wedding ceremony (interestingly, I don’t remember mine and a copy is nowhere to be found), I never took the time to create a vision for our relationship. Perhaps I felt that the love we felt was enough to weather the storms, perhaps I didn’t anticipate the kind of storms I would experience. Often when we think about marriage we are familiar with the concept of for better or worse, till death do us part……but what happens when the challenges that arise don’t quite fit into this?

It was bewildering for me to discover after being married for a number of years that our “love” was not enough. Instead of our love and relationship growing it often felt like a chasm was widening. From the outside looking in people would comment how lucky I was to have such a wonderful, supportive husband, two beautiful children and an adventurous lifestyle. But on the inside I was experiencing a growing sense of disillusionment.

Have you ever felt a chasm in a relationship?

Do you know the feeling of being next to someone and yet feeling totally disconnected from them, like they could be on the other side of the world?

I didn’t want this to be my experience of marriage, I wanted my children to see a happy and thriving marriage and I wanted to reconnect to my husband. I struggled to find ways to foster our relationship, I tried to encourage my husband to communicate more openly, to embrace the latest relationship book I was reading, to work on himself, I even suggested (albeit flippantly) that we attend marriage counselling. I felt a sense of desperation of wanting to find a way forward, a way to bridge that chasm that I felt so painfully.

Years later I look back and see that none of this was followed through, and in hindsight know that none of it really matters.

For me the catalyst for a beautiful reconnection and new beginning in my relationship was to look within. With some skilful prompting from my mentors at the One World Academy I finally realised that if something needed to change then it needed to start with me.

In the spirit of Share, Grow and Heal, I offer you ten things I have learnt from ten years of marriage, in the hope it may inspire others to cultivate and experience beautiful relationships and so that our children will be surrounded by relationships that embody connection, joy and honesty.

1. My husband is not responsible for my happiness, but I am.

What a relief this has been to see, I don’t need to wait for him change so that I can be happy, he doesn’t even need to change for me to be happy. I have found it very helpful to reflect upon the idea that happiness does not come from anyone or anything outside of ourselves and I wholeheartedly encourage you to ponder this too.

2. Marriage is a “we” not a “me” endeavour.

Sounds obvious right? But I was surprised to find that when I began to inquire into my thoughts, when I observed what was driving my emotions, responses and actions there was very little “we” focus. Instead much of my thinking was consumed with self-centric thinking, it all about “me” – I was often fearful about how I would be perceived by others, I needed to be right, when my husband wouldn’t take my advice I would feel defensive and threatened and then blame him if something went wrong, I felt if only I was a better teacher, a better example he would want to change. In seeing this I came to see just how much of the chasm I had created in my own mind.

3. Marriage is an act of acceptance that begins with an understanding and acceptance of yourself.

No-one is perfect but we are all perfectly ourselves. The more we compare ourselves to other, the more we compare our relationship to that of others the more we distance ourselves from the truth of who we are and the truth of our relationships. For me growing self-acceptance has been key to accepting my husband and our relationship for what they are, for all that they are.

4. Marriage is like crossing the “sodden Loddens”.

Not long after we got married my husband and I embarked on a couple of hiking adventures in Tasmania. Our hike to Frenchmans Peak involved crossing the Lodden Plains which we nicknamed the “sodden Loddens” for the often knee deep mud that we were sinking into for hours on end. This was the most challenging aspect of the walk for us, and each of us at different times would sink down, shout with frustration and refuse to get up again. It has also become one of our most fond memories of the walk and a beautiful reminder in times of challenge – we remember that what got us through was the patience, support and encouragement that we gave to each other. When one went down, the other was there to uplift. In looking back over these last 10 years, I see countless examples where we have continued to do this for each other and also for our children.

5. Gratitude is Great.

In a recent post  I shared one of my favourite mantras to help heal an ailing relationship “I am because you are”. To look at another and reflect upon these words is a powerful practice, for me it has helped me to see that I am only here today because of all the people and experiences in my life, not in spite of them. When we choose to see life through the eyes of gratitude we make a choice to focus on all that we have, all the beautiful moments we have shared with others, all the patience, support and encouragement that we have been given and life indeed becomes a very rich and fulfilling experience.

DSCN1236

6. Marriage  is more important than being right.

It has been humbling to see just how much the chasm that I felt in my relationship with my husband came from wanting to be right, from wanting to win and from finding it easy to blame him when things didn’t go my way. I realised I needed to make a choice, to decide what was more important – being right? winning? judging and blaming others? or being loving? showing patience and kindness? not taking everything so personally? or simply being happy?

7. Focusing on your differences drives you apart, seeing sameness bridges the chasm.

I will never forget the night I realised this, the night where I finally found a way to bridge the chasm that I felt kept me from my husband. By reflecting on a moment of anger and overreaction I was able to see that despite the fact that my husband and I do things differently, that we are more alike than we are different. I was able to see that my husband experiences anger, just like I do, my husband sometimes feels frustrated, yep me too, my husband wants to be a good parent, same as me, my husband wants to be loved and feel like he is valued and doing a good job and so do I. I cannot tell you how liberating it felt to see all of these things, as if for the first time and to experience the sense of softness, openness and reconnection that emerged.

8. Being surrounded by family and friends who value relationships is a great support.

In saying this I don’t mean people who just stay in a relationship that is not growing or joyful, I don’t mean people who just grin and bear it. We have been blessed by examples of people who are willing to hold a greater vision for their relationship and commit to cultivating a beautiful experience. I have only recently realised how much my husband’s family through honest and open communication about relationships has provided an important background to the unfolding we are enjoying in our marriage today, I am deeply grateful for this.

9. A happy and fulfilling marriage doesn’t just “happen” and it certainly does not come from wishing and waiting for the other to change.

Marriage like love is a verb, it needs patient, persistent and courageous tending. If you want a loving relationship you need to be loving, if you want more open honest communication you need to be honest and open, if you want a growing relationship you need to be willing to grow yourself. Ghandi was right, we need to be the change we want to see.

10. Having a vision for your life and your relationships is essential.

When it comes to creating a vision here are some questions that I have found very helpful to reflect upon –

How do I want to feel in life? How do I want to interact with the other? What legacy do I want to leave? When challenges arise, how will I respond? What is more important to me being right, or being loving? What example do I want to show to my children?

As you may have gathered the practice of awareness has been key in arriving at this point. For me self-awareness has been a saving grace in my life and in my experience of relationships. It has been a joyful discovery that in understanding and knowing myself better that I can see my husband more clearly, for the beautiful person he is….instead of through the lens of my perceptions and ideas of what he should be.

It feels wonderful to be wearing my wedding ring again, to have found meaning in its symbolism. It’s not really about the ring, but I like the change I feel and see, I like the reminders wearing it gives me and I am grateful that I have the opportunity to begin the next 10 years of marriage seeing with fresh eyes and an open heart.

DSCN3029-001