KEY ONE
LOVE YOURSELF

Connecting to Love Meditation

The meditation below will help you to access the place in your heart where love begins.  Listen to it carefully the first time.  
Then, if you find it helpful, you can play it in the background when you do your daily meditation. 

TRANSFORMATIONAL QUESTION:  Am I Loving Myself Right Now?

You are like a flower blooming in the desert. The ground is dry around you, yet somehow you are drinking from an underground supply. You bloom because you breathe. You shine because you are connected to the source of love and life.
     Einstein said that his greatest discovery was that the universe was friendly. It was his way of acknowledging a higher power
that sustains us in ways that we cannot possibly know, no matter how much we try to understand our place in the universe.
     All of us were children once and we naturally look to our parents to love us and provide for us. When we become adults, we look for love from our partners and our friends. We seek love from the outside and we depend on finding it there. Unfortunately, this strategy of finding love works at best for a short time. It is a temporary experience, not an eternal one. It has a beginning and an end. Love from others comes and goes. It is not steady. When it is there we are happy. When it is not there we are sad.  Sometimes we even feel mistreated or betrayed.
     But most love that comes from others is conditional love. People love us because we are meeting their needs at the time.
When we stop meeting their needs, their feelings change and they find another object for their affection.
     Of course, there are exceptions to this. There are some people who love us unconditionally, but they are rare in our lives. And they are able to love us in this way only because they have found the source of love within.

The Source of Love

The Source of love is deep inside us. It is like an underground aquifer that hydrates the plants in the desert. The Source is
always there. It abides in our heart of hearts, but we do not often notice it. It is like breathing. Breath sustains us, but we do not know from what or whom the breath comes. It is some kind of exchange with the universe that we participate in unconsciously. We do not even feel grateful for it, for we did not ask for it and did nothing to earn the right to breathe. It simply came with the body. And the body itself is a mystery.
     You and I are a mystery. We do not know why we are here or how we came to be. We were given the gift of life, but we do
not know it is a gift. On a cold day when the wind rifles across the desert, we wonder if this fragile life we have is a gift at all.
In the freezing air beneath the steely light of the full moon, we feel exposed and vulnerable. We question whether the universe
is a friendly place. We wonder if our needs will be met.
     All this derives from looking without for love, comfort, acceptance. And, as I have said, all that comes from outside
is conditional, or let us say unpredictable. Sometimes it is hot and sometimes it is cold. Sometimes there is draught and other times the rivers swell in the monsoon rains and overflow their banks.
     Life in the desert is tricky. It is risky. It is uncertain. You cannot really depend on anything. The same can be said of
conditional love.
     If all we knew was conditional love, our experience here would be frustrating. Our expectations would be raised up
only to be smashed. We might even believe that we live in a cruel and heartless universe.
     But beneath the surface of life, there is a spring that runs deep. There is a capacity for love that each of us has that
is completely awesome and miraculous. The great ones like Jesus and Buddha have showed it to us. The same spring that
nurtured them runs in our hearts.
     In this world, the heart may seem to be a lonely hunter, but it is its very nature to give and receive love. You and I are
here to love. It is our purpose and our destiny.
     What we do not understand is that love begins and ends in our own consciousness. It flows through us to others and
back to us again. If we do not offer love to ourselves, we cannot give it to others. And if we are waiting for others to
love us first, we may wait a very long time.
     To receive love we must give it. And to give it, we must receive it. That is the simple formula.

Giving and Receiving

Most of us want to be the first to receive love, but few of us want to be the first to give it. To give love, you must locate it in yourself. You must put your roots deep down. You must sink into the Source. Perhaps you meditate. Perhaps you walk in the forest or by the stream. Somehow you get still.  Somehow you open to receive the energy of love.
     Somehow you open the heart in the same way that you open your mouth to receive the air you breathe. And when the heart opens to receive, it automatically gives love back in return.  It is designed to give and receive in the same way that the lungs are designed to take in and expel the air. The heart cannot receive love without giving it back in return.
     Love is a circulatory system. It is like the blood flowing in and out of the heart, or the air flowing in and out of the lungs. It is self-sustaining, self perpetuating. Once you are in the flow of love, you do not have to think about it. It just happens, like breathing.
     The challenge for most of us is to find a way to locate the Source of love within our own consciousness. This means
becoming conscious of a presence that we were not previously aware of.
     Becoming aware of love is like becoming aware of your breath. You breathe but you are not aware that you are breathing. You love but you are not aware that you are loving.
     So you bring your attention to your heart. You breathe into your heart. You soften your defenses. You take off your emotional armor. You allow yourself to relax and feel safe.
     You remind yourself that you are innocent and okay just the way you are. You take all of the pressure off and just breathe and be. You accept and celebrate the moment just the way it is. You feel gratitude for the breath, gratitude for the gift of life. You open to the flow of the universe in you and around you. You allow yourself to connect.
     Of course you can never really be disconnected from the universe in which you live, but you can be completely unaware of your connection. You cannot be disconnected from love, yet you can be completely unaware of the love that lives inside of you.
     So as you sit in your innocence and relax and breathe you become increasingly aware of your connection to all that is.
You no longer feel separate. You no longer feel at odds with yourself or anyone else. You sink into the river of love.
     It was always there, but you were not aware of it. Even as you walked on the riverbank of love, you did not hear the river of love talking to you, caressing you, celebrating you. Yet now you feel it. Now you are bathing in the cool waters of the river. Now you know that you are more than you thought you were.
     Now you know that you are part of the great flow of life that transcends your ego consciousness and connects you to
all that is. Now there is no difference, no separation between you and what is. You are dwelling within all that is and it is
dwelling inside of you.
     Indeed, there is no more inside. No more big and small. No more boundaries between beings. Even giving and receiving
are not separate or sequential, but united and simultaneous.  The universe is absolutely amazing and you are astonishingly
and exquisitely beautiful.
     As you sit in your safe space, content to be who you are, breathing and exchanging love with all that is, you come to
the revelation that your essence is love. Love is who you are. You cannot be anything else.

Love is Who You Are

When you accept this amazing truth about you, your life begins to transform. You begin to realize that every encounter
is a holy one. Every action and word spoken is an opportunity to give or receive love. You no longer live on the banks of the
river, but in the river itself. Love flows through you wherever you go, whatever you do.
     So now you know the truth. You know how to find the river of love in your heart and how to sink into it. You know that love is who you are and that anything else is a delusion born of some fear or contraction.
     Yes, you know, but once in a while you forget. You get drawn into the cacophonous drama of the world and you cannot hear the voice of the river speaking to you. You feel separate from others. You get mad, sad, impatient. You feel lonely, needy, discouraged, maybe even depressed. Perhaps you even feel suicidal.
     It’s okay. That’s what happens when you forget who you are. That’s what happens when you start looking for love
outside of yourself instead of finding it within. And that’s when your spiritual practice begins.

Spiritual Practice

The first spiritual practice is a simple one, but it is very powerful. I invite you to begin using it throughout the day. When you forget who you are and your connection to the Source of Love is shrouded or attenuated, use this transformational question to bring yourself back. Ask yourself: “Am I loving myself right now? ”
     Let the question go deep down into your soul and answer it honestly. If the answer is “yes,” celebrate your connection
to all that is and continue your extraordinary process of giving and receiving love. If the answer is “no, then simply remind yourself that you are here to bring love to yourself when you feel unloved. You are here to bring acceptance to yourself when you feel judged or rejected. You are here to forgive yourself when you feel that you have said or done something hurtful to yourself or others. You are here to bring love, not to bring judgment. You are here to hold yourself gently and compassionately, as a mother holds her baby, not to condemn or find fault or beat yourself up in any way.
     When you are not loving yourself, the transformational question reminds you that love is what is needed and only you
can give it. You are the bringer of love to your own experience. No one else. Others may love you or not love you. You can
do nothing about that. You cannot depend on others for love and acceptance. You have to offer it to yourself. You are the
bringer of love. Let the question anchor you in the primary existential responsibility of your embodiment. You are the bringer of love to your own experience. No one else.
     Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Hear the waters of the river talking to you. Let yourself sink down into them. You
and the river are not separate. You are the river. You are the Source of Love. You are the savior. You are the one who lifts
the wounded child up out of self crucifixion and despair. You are the shining one.

Practicing the Presence

Spiritual practice is moment to moment. In one moment we can feel connected to love and in the next moment we can feel separated. The nature of consciousness is up and down, in and out, connected and disconnected. We need to accept this.
     If we put pressure on ourselves to stay connected, we exacerbate the experience of separateness. Pressure does not
work. Only acceptance works. Accept what is going on.
     Accept how you feel. When you accept, you are already bringing love.
     When you don’t accept, when you want things to be different from the way that they are, you deepen the feeling of disconnection. So don’t resist your experience. Be with it compassionately. If you are sad, be with your sadness. If you are angry, be with your anger. If you are lonely be with your loneliness. Accepting and “being present with” are acts of love.
     When you bring love to yourself, you cannot feel unloved.  Love answers itself. What you give you receive and what you
receive you give back. This is the extraordinary nature of love.
     This is why it is the greatest power in the universe.
     When you forget who you are or why you are here, use the transformational question to remember. It does not matter
how many times you forget. Stop counting. Stop criticizing yourself. Stop putting pressure on yourself. Just gently bring
yourself back.
     Practice loving yourself in a loving way. If you turn your practice of love into a stick that you beat yourself up with, it
ceases to be a practice of love. Be patient and compassionate.
     Remember, in you is a little child who does not feel worthy of love. Take that one into your arms and reassure him that s/he is loveable.
     Love the wounded one who feels unworthy and self worth will naturally come. Love brings all things into itself and
there they are changed forever. When the unloved one meets the bringer of love, all that remains is love.
     This is the certainty and the majesty of the practice. It always works. But you still have to show up and do it. Without your willingness to show up and find the Source of Love within the power of love cannot express in your life.
     The more sincerely you practice, the easier it is for you to show up. And the more you show up, the more the river of
love carries you toward your greatest good and that of all the beings who share your journey.

Important Things to Remember

  •  In co-dependent love we depend on others to love us and show up for us. This is like building on quicksand. We set ourselves up for disappointment. When we learn to love ourselves from the inside out we know that we are okay even if others are unable to love us and show up for us.
     
  • You are the bringer of love. Your love is the key. You are the initiator. Until you offer love to yourself, the power of love cannot express in your life. 
     
  • Are you holding your experience gently and compassionately? You cannot bring love to yourself in an unloving way or it is not love that you bring.
     
  • There is no moment when you are not connected to the Source of Love. Your job is to be still and open your heart so that you can feel the connection.

Journaling Questions

What is the difference between unconditional love and conditional love?

What is the relationship between giving love and receiving love?

What is the relationship between loving yourself and loving others?

Can you love others when you are not loving yourself?

When have you received unconditional love from another person?   What did it feel like?

When have you given unconditional love to another person?  What did it feel like?

Are you able to take time to sit in the silence, follow your breath, and connect to the energy of love in your heart? 

How often do you do this? 

What is the biggest challenge for you in doing this practice?

Paul Ferrini Teaching
Key One: Love Yourself