If you have ever been in love, you know that there is an incredible amount of power, or shakti, behind falling into the wild rapture of delighting in someone else. There is so much power in the experience of love, in fact, that we have created a whole culture and consumer landscape around trying to get more of it.
Yogis understand that where there is power, there is potential fertile ground for connecting deeper into our heart and soul. But the object of love was way less important than the act of loving itself. Yogis fall in love by realizing that what they love, and the part of themselves that is able to love, is actually the same thing.
A yogi also uses the remembrance of love to connect to the release of bliss-bombs in their own heart. Now, this may sound very “dolphins and rainbows,” but science supports the bliss-bomb theory. When we are in love (or feel deeply understood, or cuddle a kitty, or get a massage), there is an increase of the hormone oxytocin in our system. This blissful hormone has been shown to be the polar opposite of our stress hormones, allowing us to feel relaxed, safe, trusting and generous. Studies show that people with high amounts of oxytocin experience less loneliness and physical pain. They were also shown to be better communicators, and to feel more connected to their work and the people around them.
We can learn from the yogic philosophy of love. We don’t necessarily need an external event, or lover, to catalyze our own waterfall of juicy oxytocin and emotional fulfillment. We can use some simple yogic practices to fall in love from within. And the best part? When we fall in love from within, we may actually attract more love from the outside—teddy-bear-shaped hearts and all.
Four Tips on Getting More Yogi Love
1. The power of loving what already is. Take pause to appreciate what surrounds you in the moment. Gain pleasure from what already is, without grasping for what could be. Ask yourself, “What is it about this moment (or this room, person, place) that is absolutely worthy of my love and appreciation?” Feel that love fill you up as you express contentment with exactly what you already have.
2. The power of loving touch. Yoga teaches us how to soften ourselves enough to be touched by life. On a physical level, any kind of appropriate touching has been shown to increase oxytocin and reduce stress hormones in the body. Whether it be a gentle massage, a warm hug, or the intimate touch of a lover, fill your life up with opportunities for skin-rubbing sweetness. If you live with love ones, try giving more touch. If you live alone, surround yourself with friends who don’t mind doling out the tender embraces.
3. The power of loving selflessly. My teacher, Rod Stryker, encourages us to meditate on “love without ownership.” This is a beautiful practice for cultivating non-attachment around the people and things we already have in our lives. The yogis knew that we could love better, and more authentically, when we loved people without trying to own or change them. Practice daily acts of selfless love with no expectation for returns on investment. My fellow yogini, Rachel Meyer, used to make a love-filled cake every Saturday and give it to someone who may have had a hard week. Do you knowanyone who may need an unexpected and heartfelt treat?
4. The power of loving remembrance. There is a powerful Tantric practice for increasing the feeling of love in your life. Begin by allowing yourself to close your eyes and settle into your breath. As you become more and more relaxed, allow yourself to remember a time in your life when you felt very deeply and utterly “in love.” It may have been through the experience of a lover’s embrace, receiving a drawing from your child, or a sunset in your backyard that called your heart to open. Remember this, and feel the remembrance of the love in the body. Then, leave the memory behind and pay close attention to the feeling sensations of the “being in” love. Watch how it grows and expands on its own as you experience the delight of objectless love.
This article was originally published in the Yoga Journal Blog on February 10, 2012.