Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. Jala ad-Din Rumi 1207 – 1273
One would suspect that readers of this Post title would have many different responses to the word ‘love’. Perhaps in this harsh, economically challenged world, it seems a little quaint to think about love in anything other than a romantic sense.
But, trust me, there’s nothing quaint or ‘away with the fairies’ about reminding us all of both the power of love and the urgent need to bring that power further up the scale of human consciousness. Let’s even try and aim for where dogs are. Dogs intuitively demonstrate unconditional love to those around them that they trust.
Before we look at the effects of love, let’s remind ourselves of some of the outcomes from the stress and trauma generated by present times. A news item from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine published in July, 2009, said this:
Researchers at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Oxford University estimated that soaring stress brought on by job losses could prompt a 2.4% rise in suicide rates in people under-64 years of age, a 2.7% rise in heart attack deaths in men between 30 and 44 years, and a 2.4% rise in homicides rates, corresponding to thousands of deaths in European Union countries, such as the UK.
Nor is the impact just economic. The sudden flipping from the wild optimism of the boom to the personal gloom and self-doubt of recession and system-wide financial crisis is bad for health and well-being.
So it appears as if there’s no shortage of reasons why engaging the power of love offers infinite possibilities for us all.
The BBC recently reported on research that shows that people in love can lower their levels of pain.
Love hurts, at least according to many a romantic songwriter, but it may also help ease pain, US scientists suggest.
Brain scans suggest many of the areas normally involved in pain response are also activated by amorous thoughts.
Stanford University researchers gave 15 students mild doses of pain, while checking if they were distracted by gazing at photos of their beloved.
Later on it that BBC item, it reads thus:
He said: “One example is a footballer who has suffered quite a painful injury, but who is able to continue playing because of his emotionally charged state.”
He added that while the effect noticed by the Stanford researchers might only be short-lived in the early stages of a love affair, it may well be replaced by something similar later in a relationship, with a sense of comfort and wellbeing generating the release of endorphins.
“It’s important to recognise that people who feel alone and depressed may have very low pain thresholds, whereas the reverse can be true for people who feel secure and cared for.
Prof Gilbert states on his web page that “After years of exploring the processes underpinning shame and its role in a variety of psychopathologies,
my current research is exploring the neurophysiology and therapeutic effectiveness of compassion focused therapy.” (My italics.)
The old adage that you can’t love another if you don’t love yourself is based on very high levels of awareness. So the starting point to gaining the power of love is self-awareness. Here’s something from MIND:
Good mental health isn’t something you have, but something you do. To be mentally healthy you must value and accept yourself. This means that:
- You care about yourself and you care for yourself. You love yourself, not hate yourself. You look after your physical health – eat well, sleep well, exercise and enjoy yourself.
- You see yourself as being a valuable person in your own right. You don’t have to earn the right to exist. You exist, so you have the right to exist.
- You judge yourself on reasonable standards. You don’t set yourself impossible goals, such as ‘I have to be perfect in everything I do’, and then punish yourself when you don’t reach those goals.
Finally, back to romantic love. The most glorious feeling in the world.
Again expressed so beautifully by Rumi: “The minute I heard my first love story I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.”
Some things are timeless.
By Paul Handover