What’s the one thing that would make 2011 your best year ever? More money? A better job? Losing 20 pounds? As great as those might be, there’s something else that I guarantee will create a magical year: love. Not Hollywood or Hallmark-card kind of love, but love as a state of being: the kind of love I call Love for No Reason.
Is it possible to live in a state of unconditional love all of the time? That’s the question I set out to answer in my latest book, Love for No Reason. After interviewing more than 150 people I call “Love Luminaries,” including scientists, psychologists, spiritual teachers, and people whose lives were rich in the qualities of the heart, I found that they all share certain qualities that anyone can develop to experience more unconditional love. Here are 10 tips from my new book to get your New Year off to an unconditionally loving start:
1. Anchor Yourself in Safety.
Feeling stressed, unsupported, or fearful takes love off-line. To quickly switch out of stress mode, take a few deep breaths and consciously relax your pelvic floor, located at the base of your body. This kick-starts your parasympathetic system and activates the physiology of unconditional love.
2. Sense Your Support.
Choose to believe that this is a friendly universe. When you find yourself facing a challenging situation, , look for the ways that the situation is ultimately serving you. Ask yourself, Is this for my enjoyment, growth, or both?
3. Feel Your Feelings.
Research shows that stifling your emotions or expressing them excessively is equally damaging to your capacity to experience love. Luckily, there’s a third option: feeling your feelings. Practice experiencing your feelings directly and completely by observing them as they move through your mind and body—and then letting them go.
4. Practice Self-Compassion.
Try a simple self-love technique that brings you into your heart and reminds you to treat yourself with care. Throughout the day, ask yourself, What’s the most loving thing I can do for myself right now? or What’s the most loving way I can be with myself right now? And then pay attention to the answer.
5. Unleash the Power of Forgiveness.
Use the ancient Hawaiian kahuna forgiveness technique of Ho’oponopono to clear your blocks to love. Based on the principle of taking total responsibility for everything that happens to you, the technique consists of sitting quietly and mentally repeating, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you,” over and over.
6. Let Love In.
Research shows that when you receive, your levels of serotonin – the neurotransmitter of well-being and happiness – rise just as much as when you give. The next time someone offers you a gift –a present, a compliment, or some assistance – smile and say thank you, while consciously feeling appreciation in your heart.
7. Live with a Grateful Heart.
Start your own gratitude practice by consciously registering and savoring all that you’re receiving right now. Gratitude is the fast track to love. List five things you are grateful for at the end of each day. It turned my life around and it will do the same for yours.
8. Wish Others Well.
Try “beaming love” to people—your friends and family, as well as strangers you pass in the street. It fills your own heart in the process.
9. Listen for the Subtitles.
Create a safe space for others to communicate with you by being sensitive to the unspoken feelings and needs that underlie people’s words. When you listen from your heart, your body’s fear system shuts off, culturing more compassion and love.
10. Plug in to a Larger Heart.
Love thrives when we feel at peace inside. Recharge your spiritual batteries through silence, meditation, or prayer. Tapping into this inner wellspring of spirit will boost your capacity to experience Love for No Reason by a factor of infinity.
Use these tips to create magic in your life this year. When you’re open-hearted and loving, you attract the good, because you’re radiating the good. What could be more magical than that?
Adapted from Love for No Reason: 7 Steps to Creating a Life of Unconditional Love (Free Press, December 2010). Love for No Reason offers a breakthrough approach to experiencing a lasting state of unconditional love—the kind of love that doesn’t depend on another person, situation, or romantic partner, and that you can access at any time and in any circumstance. This is the key to lasting joy and fulfillment in life.
Article by Marci Shimoff