"Let all that you do be done in Love." - Paul the Apostle
When we have siblings, one of our favorite things to do as a child is confront our parents with the toughest question of all: "Which of us do you love the most?" Most parents pass this test with ease, stating that they love all their children equally. This, of course, is met with chagrin and disappointment by children as we couldn't possibly fathom having enough room in our hearts to love multiple things equally when we spend most of our days picking a favorite color, animal, flavor, etc. Luckily, as we grow so does our understanding of how love works. We discover that not only is it possible to love many things with equitability but it's also possible to have multiple types of love for things in this world.
There are so many depths to Love and its expressions, but as we learn to love ourselves we are faced with the task to understand how we now must interact with the world. In order to do that most affectively we need a foundation of understanding how love manifests in our hearts. This prevents us from returning to old habits and obligations, protects us from emotional vampires & narcissists, and creates healthy boundaries that keep us whole.
To that end, I want to share my understanding of four (to five) of the most common ways we understand love and what they mean to our lives.
1) Eros: That Chica-Chica Bow-wow Love. Marital Love. Physical Attraction. This is that Root Chakra Love. It connects us to our bodies and to the world around us in the most basic way possible. When abused, it can cheapen its expression, but the truth is every sexual act exchanges a Love of Self for an appreciation of another. You don't need to be married to make this exchange nor do you need to be aware of it, but the price remains the same. To maximize our worth we must always measure our value with that of the person's perception of us and investment in us. We can give freely and as often as we want, but we mustn't trick ourselves into believing that Love of Self isn't part of the offer (sometimes literally) on the table.
2) Philia/Philos: Brotherly Love. Deep, Platonic Friendship. This love is not based on physical attraction or human compassion, but the most unique and under-appreciated of loves. It is the choice to bring someone into your life and keep them there because of inexplicable bonds. This love is about creating the world around us and resonates for some in the Heart Chakra, but understandably in the Sacral Chakra for others. Within this love there is also Storge, which is familial love. I can see the need to separate the two when discussing Parental/Child love, but most people recognize that true friends, that tribe you build your world around and share those adult moments of your life with... that is the family you create. Making Philos one of the most important expressions of Love as it merges Love with the greatest gift humanity has: Free Will.
3) Agape: Universal or Divine Love. Namaste Love. The recognition of Spirit and Humanity in others. Agape Love is not readily accessible to everyone. In fact, most people have to work to truly understand pure, unconditional love. A lot of us think we've achieved it, but still find ourselves riddled with a need to change or control the people in our lives. That's not Agape Love (or any love, really). When we journey inward and learn ourselves and fall in love with ourselves completely, we take the first steps to achieving this Divine, Crown Chakra Love. It's that patient, kind, gentle love that meets each individual where they are and embraces them without judgement or need of reciprocity. It feels good to believe we have this love in us, but that's just not true unless we've put in the very difficult work of opening our hearts to forgiveness, divinity, truth, and acceptance. Once we achieve it though... the world becomes filled with peace that passes all understanding and we truly see that everything is possible.
4) Affection: The act of showing Love. Love in Motion. To hug. To caress. To touch. To pray. To heal. To forgive. To feed. To make laugh. This love is the love that embraces and surrounds us. It is the most subtle of Loves and as a result is as powerful as it is overlooked. Our lives would be nothing without affection, for even when we have the other forms of Love mastered, what good are they if unexpressed? Paolo Coelho once said that "Love isn't a feeling; Love just is." This is Affection. Love as a state of being. Or even better, as a motivation for all actions.
So as you take the love you have for yourself and begin to share it with the world, make sure you understand which love it is and the appropriate way to express it, but most importantly do express it. And when you're ready, make it the sole motivation for all you do.
Know Thyself; Love Thyself; Heal Thyself. Amen.