Whole unto Ourselves

White Bleeding Hearts  ©Angela Warner

I had an epiphany earlier today.

What I realised is that part of the reason we cling so desperately to the idea of soul mate (and twin flame, for those of you familiar with that term, regardless of how you may want to distinguish it from soul mate) is because of Separation Consciousness: We feel so keenly the separation from the Divine when we incarnate on Earth, and this feeling of separation engenders an unmatched desperation for reunification with the Divine Love Source from which we emanate.

We need to know we’re not alone in this world.

A grand part of our journey on this Earth, however, is to learn how to feel the Divine within us so that we know with immovable certainty that we’re whole unto ourselves. That there is nothing wrong with being single — you’re not half a person when you don’t have a partner. That’s like saying there’s no difference between being alone and being lonely, when those two states of being are worlds apart from each other. You can be lonely in a crowd and be completely satisfied and at peace whilst alone. The entire notion of ‘our other half’ is as much an illusion as this feeling of separation we’re immersed in. It is all part of the Maya that the Buddha spoke of. It is Illusion. And a really damned convincing one, at that.

This, of course, in no way means the idea that having a partner or partners to share it all with is not desirable. For the most part, we humans are communal creatures. My point is more that we need to take a look at ourselves and realise that we don’t need completion — we are already complete. And if we’re constantly seeking somebody to complete us, it’s not going to work out the way we’d like. Looking outside of ourselves for what we need to discover within us will always leave us wanting more.

So the next step would appear to be a move from feeling separated, lonely, and broken to feeling whole and perfect just as we are. How does one bridge that gap? Like everybody else, I’m working on it, but some things that come to mind as really, really having a positive impact would be the following:

 

Body Positivity.
Realising that your body is perfect no matter what it looks like, no matter what it can or can’t do is, I believe, the first core step towards recognizing your wholeness. Your body is perfect because it allows you to exist on this planet. Give it the love, appreciation and gratitude it deserves.

And for this, I’m giving a much-needed shout out to all the beautiful fat women in the world who have internet connections and are posting amazing articles and blog entries, writing books, making fantastic videos, and taking gorgeous photos celebrating their journey towards self-love and self-acceptance in the face of so much outright societal hatred. All y’all are amazingly inspiring and you have my sincere and heartfelt gratitude for putting yourselves out there like that. You do humanity proud. I have benefited hugely from all the fat-positive, body-positive everythings I’ve come across. Thank you.

Adding to this link love is the best NSFW body-positive blog I’ve ever come across: Diversexity. The owner of the blog writes, “People are amazingly diverse and within that diversity is more beauty than any ideal could possibly bring.” And she shows that with her collection of images, pages and pages of humanity in all our sex-positive, body-positive glory.

And lastly, Olympian athletes. If you really want a range of peak-performance ability and associated body type, take a look. We all have different abilities and appearances.

You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.
C.S. Lewis

 

Creative Expression.
Once you start to get the idea that your body is fucking awesome and can do all sorts of amazing things, you may have an easier time understanding that using it to create more awesomeness is a necessity for the sanctity and sanity of the soul.

This is one of the primary things we are designed to do. We are designed to create. It is fundamental to being human. I have more to say on this in a later post.

There is no one in this world who can do the things you do. There is no one in this world who can draw, sing, or dance the way you draw, sing, and dance. Write, drum, make music. Build buildings that no one thought to design. Learn how to tattoo. Develop recipes and variations on themes. Create the most fascinating Rube-Goldberg device ever. Go forth and express the wholeness of who you are because it will unleash within you the joy you are made of and that will flow out into the world, enriching and inspiring us all.

 

Celebrating Mistakes.
So… I have to talk about this one because I know so many profoundly creative people who contend with mental illnesses of all sorts, along with mild to severe anxiety. I don’t feel like I can paint with such broad brushstrokes without addressing the realness of how we mentally perceive ourselves and the world around us.  Even if it’s a completely inadequate nod, such as this one. I’ve struggled with depression myself, so I know whereof I speak. It’s like this.

I’m linking creativity and mental illness with the idea of making mistakes. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen how often the artist suffers for her art and how it’s all rubbish if it’s not perfect.

Making mistakes is part of being human. How we feel about those mistakes will tell us how far we have to go in our journey. There is no judgment here, by the way. This is not a more-evolved-than-thou tack I’m taking because my journey is not yours. There is no better way or worthier way to get from point A to point B; it’s completely individual. Progress is sometimes direct and sometimes meandering across lifetimes. It’s. All. Okay. Ooohhh… there is so much here to unpack and untangle. Eventually, I’ll write about it all. Muahahahaha!

This idea of owning our mistakes and not letting them own us is, in part, inspired by a blog I came across the other day called Fumblr. It’s a celebration of academic failures in the humanities (as opposed to the sciences, where they write it all up already and publish it in journals so that people can learn from their mistakes).

This article, as well, really helped me realize the importance of recognizing the humanity in making mistakes, forgiving those mistakes, how we hold people accountable, and whether the implementation thereof needs to shift a bit: The Mistakes We Don’t Forgive (But Maybe Should)

 

When we come more fully into the understanding that we are not mistakes, that our bodies are not wrong, that we all miss the mark and that expressing that which is within us is fundamental to being human, we move ever closer to embodying the notion that we truly are whole unto ourselves.

 

You are not a drop in the ocean.
You are the entire ocean in a drop.
Rumi

 

 

Redefining Love

10 things you might not know about love
By Barbara Fredrickson

This article from CNN is just a teaser for Fredrickson’s new book, “Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become”. She couches these 10 things as lessons she has learned while writing the book.

Full disclosure: I agree 100% with what she states here in these lessons. I first read this article back in January or February and then again a couple of days ago when a friend posted it on the Book of Faces. I agreed with it the first time and nothing has changed in the past few months to alter that. I haven’t read Fredrickson’s book, but I’ve got it on hold at the library, so, soon.

There are two things that strike me most about these lessons. The first is that I’m completely enamoured of people who are able to find physical, biological evidence of something we generally perceive as intangible. It brings me joy. What? It really does! And no, I haven’t read Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert, yet, but it’s on the list. I have read The Heart’s Code by Dr. Paul Pearsall, which I really enjoyed, despite the leaps of logic in several places. He could have used a more knowledgeable editor to point out some flaws in his arguments (or should have listened better if they were pointed out), but there’s a core element in his research that supports some of what Fredrickson lists in these 10 lessons, namely the link between love and eye-contact and the synchrony of biological functions when love is shared between individuals. I’ll be interested to learn whether she cites any of his work in her book.

The other thing that I really appreciate about Fredrickson’s 10 Lessons is that in presenting her findings, she makes love completely and utterly accessible:

“Love, as your body experiences it, is a micro-moment of connection shared with another.”

“In reality, you can experience micro-moments of connection with anyone — whether your soul mate or a stranger.”

“Love is a biological wave of good feeling and mutual care that rolls through two or more brains and bodies at once.”

This reminds me of a few things Amanda Palmer said in her TED Talk. When she worked as an 8-foot bride, and people dropped in money into her hat or her jar, she would offer a flower and “some intense eye contact.” She then says that she had

“the most profound encounters with people, especially lonely people who looked like they hadn’t talked to anyone in weeks, and we would get this beautiful moment of prolonged eye contact being allowed in a city street, and we would sort of fall in love a little bit. And my eyes would say, ‘Thank you. I see you.’ And their eyes would say, ‘Nobody ever sees me. Thank you.'”

Here we have anecdotal evidence outside of the research of both Pearsall and Fredrickson of eye contact and the emotion of love. Here we have that “micro-moment of connection shared with another”.

When I first heard Palmer’s talk, this part really stood out for me. Anything that makes love more accessible and more universal and not something über special and SCARCE hits me where I live. It speaks to me in a way that resonates so thoroughly as to be unable to deny its inherent truthfulness. Love is a micro-moment of shared connection with someone, no matter who they are. That person on the subway you’ve never seen before and will possibly never see again: your eyes meet theirs for a couple of heartbeats, you both smile, and you both feel brighter, lighter for that moment and a bit thereafter. And it’s an experience you can think of forever after and it can bolster you, lift your spirits. That’s love, plain and simple.

On a personal note, I find it curious that there are certain friendships I have where I feel comfortable telling the other person that I care about them, even care deeply for them, but I don’t want to say that I love them, even though I know that’s exactly what it is. It’s as though that word holds too much baggage and expectation, when it’s just honest truth.

There. Is. So. Much. Cultural. Baggage. Surrounding. Love.

What I find interesting is that the blog post that has, far and away, gotten more hits than any other I have ever posted anywhere is the one entitled, The BS We Believe About Love. It’s still getting looked at over a month later. People are ready for a shift in perspective with respect to how we think about love, and the brilliant article by Justine Musk that I link to in that post really addresses a lot of the baggage we have associated with Love, up to and including the idea of a Soul Mate.

In Fredrickson’s 10 Things article, she writes, “In reality, you can experience micro-moments of connection with anyone — whether your soul mate or a stranger.” Here, Fredrickson is referring to our cultural definition of what a soul mate is — that special person you connect with so well as to believe this person completes you, is your other half, etc.

In her article, Musk references Caroline Myss’s definition of soul mate:

A soulmate is the person who makes your soul grow the most.

A soulmate, she added, could be anyone. Anyone. A lover, a spouse, a friend, a family member…or even an adversary.

I love that she includes adversary here because it’s important that we consider this with respect to people who’ve helped us grow. I would add to Myss’s definition by stating that if love can manifest in a shared micro-moment of connection, then a soul mate can be someone who makes your soul grow the most in that moment, or at that particular time in your life. Someone who provides some sort of insight that really launches you forward on whatever path you’re on. If love can be shared between anyone you can connect with, even so briefly as a shared micro-moment of connectivity, I believe that, as a corollary, a soul mate is anyone who helps further your growth in a profound way but not necessarily “the most” overall. It could be a single positive or negative comment from a teacher, a squeeze of your hand from a nurse during a moment of need that sends you on a cascade of realizations about how connected we all are, a friend who finally accepts your help thus releasing all the pent up assistive energy you’d been holding onto for far too long… It could be all three of these things and so much more.

We have this notion that soul mates are one in a million. They are golden needles in The Grand Haystack of Interpersonal Relationships, the holy grail of quests for each of us. And I won’t buy into it. I can’t. This cultural concept we have about soul mates creates an emotional environment of scarcity and lack, deprivation, depression, profound loneliness, ill-placed expectation. And it makes me believe that we’ve got it all wrong. I really love what Myss has to say about soul mates, but I’m taking it a step further.

If we can have one-night stands and accept those as reality, if we now know that that moment of shared eye contact and mutual smile with a stranger on the street truly is a micro-moment of love — if we can “fall in love a little bit” with an absolute stranger, then I believe we also have the capacity to accept the notion that someone can be our soul mate In That Moment. A shared micro-moment of growth through connectivity.

What this means is that we can have multiple soul mates across the span of a single lifetime. Myss’s definition already removes soul mate from romantic love, but it’s still limited to whomever makes your soul grow “the most”. What about, “the most” that year? Or that week? Or that day? Or that era in your life? Or on that matter that’s been a sticking point for you for the past 3 decades that you’ve finally been able to work through? Challenging our socio-cultural definition of soul mate creates an opportunity for us to expand our definition of both love and connection to the world around us. Both are made more accessible and universal.

Does this, then, cheapen and diminish the concept of soul mate? No. Not inherently. Let’s return to one of the 10 Things from Fredrickson’s article:

8. Don’t take a loving marriage for granted.

Writing this book has profoundly changed my personal view of love. I used to uphold love as that constant, steady force that all but defines my marriage. While that constant, steady force still exists, I now see our bond as a product of the many micro-moments of positivity resonance that my husband and I have shared over the years. This shakes me out of any complacency that tempts me to take our love for granted. Love is something we should re-cultivate every single day.

If love needs to be re-cultivated each and every day, at every opportunity, then this dismisses the idea that if we fall in love with someone then that love will last forever. Divorce statistics and breakups prove this already, but there’s a part of us, generally speaking, that really REALLY wants to believe that love lasts forever between two people, that, if once, then happily ever after. The marketing geniuses at jewelry stores really exploit this romantic ideal and to our collective psycho-emotional detriment. Never mind song writers. And Don’t even get me started on fairy tales and Disney. Not here, not yet. I’m saving that because WOW. I want to be able to do it justice and I haven’t done nearly enough research there.

Love is not a thing that automatically lasts forever between two people. “Love is a biological wave of good feeling and mutual care that rolls through two or more brains and bodies at once.” It is something we can fall into, the way we fall into step with one another. The way we can be on the same wavelength. The way we can work harmoniously with each other, finding resonance in what the other person thinks and how they express themselves.

It does not serve us to believe that having multiple soul mates throughout our lifetime cheapens and diminishes the idea of what a soul mate is. What it does, instead, if we really look at it, is lend itself to an aura of absolute gratitude for all those people and, yes, even animals, who have helped us grow, expand our perspective, help us advance on our path, and become more ourselves. Conscious awareness of all those micro-moments, all those moments of tenderness and trial, all those opportunities for growth bring us closer to Love.

Love is so much more than we believe it to be and so different in many ways from how we think of it. It is what helps us grow emotionally and spiritually. It is what helps us live longer, through boosting our immunity and health. It is what makes us feel safe. It provides innumerable positive feedback loops that echo throughout our lives and radiate outwards towards others.

The biggest cumulative lesson in all of this is becoming consciously aware of all the ways love touches our lives, all the different guises it comes in, and all the ways that we confuse it for what it isn’t.

Fredrickson is spot on when she chose the title for her book: Love 2.0. We’re ready for a newly expanded and updated version of Love. A new definition. What’s actually happening here, though, is not that love is changing — we are. Love isn’t getting updated, we are collectively evolving toward a more expansive vision. Love will always be what love has always been. We’re moving towards understanding that much of what we called love isn’t love at all. We’re moving towards understanding that love doesn’t have nearly as many limitations as we’ve placed upon it. It’s far simpler and far more pervasive and expansive than we still have yet to imagine. Slowly but surely, we’ll get there. Together. With shared micro-moments of love nudging us onward.