Lucy Lucas

Lucy Lucas' Blog

Yoga & Mind Blog by Lucy Lucas

Love is the Answer

IMG_2354Happy Valentine’s Day!  It’s the day of love and romance around the world, but what does love really mean? One thing is for sure, it is not just limited to red roses and candlelit dinners. Love is truly born in the dark nights and troubled times when we carry ourselves and others to the light. So to celebrate Valentine’s Day, here are some of my thoughts on how love can be the answer, whether you are single, married, attached, parenting, with friends – or on your own.1. Do What you LoveMark Manson writes a lot about passion and purpose. He wrote this article about what you do being your purpose: what you do, what you watch on TV, who you spend time with, and your internet surfing habits. The problem is that we rarely are doing anything. We are disengaged at work and do the bare minimum, even though we could get more involved if we wanted (volunteer for a community project, get involved in a large change initiative, lead a training course); we read mindless drivel on the train (hello, Metro), “binge-watch” TV and surf the internet looking at other people’s carefully curated lives. And to escape from this, we then drink too much. Do you love what you do? Not just at work, but in the rest of your life outside of work? If not, why not?There is also a big difference between enjoying yourself and loving what you do. Think of it as when you love your partner, or kids, or family – but also know that there are times when they annoy you, or make you angry, or sometimes you downright dislike them. But you still love them. It’s the same with what you do. You might not be singing from the top of your lungs every day, but deep down you know the bad days are worth it because you love what you do. I think is probably what keeps teachers and the medical professions in their jobs despite all the crap they have to put up with. And thank goodness for their love, for it benefits us all.There is one of those Instaquote things on social media which says “the difference between what you do and what you love is your happiness”. Life is too short not to do what you love as much as you can. I know there is a lot out there which implies that you can only love being an entrepreneur or digital nomad or yoga teacher sitting on a beach, but many people love their normal office jobs too – and that is OK. Just check in with yourself, do you love what you do, most of the time?2. Do it For LoveYou may not have the chance to always do what you love, all the time. Most of us have jobs or part of jobs that we don’t love. But we still do them. Why? If you are working a job that you don’t love, but you do it to financially support your family, then you are doing it for love and that is crucial. I don’t especially enjoy marketing, but I do it because it is necessary for me to be able to get my love of yoga and meditation out in the world. You may even have a ‘day job’ which pays the rent, but allows you time to do what you really love, even though it can never provide a stable income. Elizabeth Gilbert in Big Magic talks about how for several years after her first book was published she kept her day job, and wrote in her spare time. Mark Manson also mentions that there is no shame in having a ‘rent paying job’ to allow you to do what you love in the rest of the life.Once again it is time to examine our intention behind what we do. If you have realised you don’t do what you love, why are you still doing it? If you are doing it with resentment or guilt or fear, or because you’re worried about others will think if you leave, then this is not acting with love – and especially not acting with love towards yourself.  There is also the concept of devotion and discipline: sometimes real love can shine through when we act in routine ways and do what we need to do with no agenda excepting getting it done.3. Do it With LoveWhatever you’re doing, you can do it with love. This means examining your intention for doing something. Is it because you hope to gain something from doing it? Or because you have attached to the outcome of the task; would you do it even if the outcome wasn’t how you expected?How are you acting? We can show love through how we do things, and how we are with other people. Even organisations include the ‘how’ and behaviours when managing an employee’s performance. You may think you are showing love by cooking tea for your family, but if it is full of resentment and anger, especially if your family aren’t grateful for their food, then this is not done with love.You can do things with love by being present; by ensuring you give your full attention when you’re with someone. Putting your love into the food you make. Practicing compassion and kindness at the workplace; making the assumption that everyone is doing their best, even if the outcomes aren’t great.4. Put your Love Out ThereWhat energy are you putting out into the universe? Is it one of love and joy, even when you’re not having the best of times? The Law of Attraction states that what we put out, we will eventually receive. Even if you’re not sure about this ‘law’, there is certainly evidence that pouring out good vibes is good for our mental states, and much better for those around us.How can you put your love out there? It can be simply where we’re putting our energy, whether it’s at work, or with our partners, children or friends. It is also about raising our energetic vibrations so that we give off ‘good vibes’ (more about this is below). We also need to engage with others; there is no point sitting at home not getting involved, not connecting; even when we're practicing yoga or meditation or eating well. Any practice, especially a spiritual one, is meant to be done in community, in relationship with others. We’re also hardwired, neurobiologically, for connection. And yes, that connection can partly be done online and via social media.And for those on a personal or spiritual development path, many of whom are travelling and working away from home, remember this. The final part of any spiritual development is to come and do your work in the world: to leave the ashram or monastery, the remote island, the beach, to enter back into the manifested realm with all its challenges and ugliness – and shine your light there.5. Give Love to Yourself To raise our energetic vibration, to have enough love to put out in the universe, to have enough love to give others, we have to have enough love ourselves. Contrary to the romantic backdrop of Valentine’s Day, ensuring we have enough love is our project and our project alone. It is not our partner’s or families’ job to make sure we are loved. As Brene Brown says, we can’t ask someone to give us something that we don’t think we’re worthy of receiving.Sometimes it’s easy to confuse self-love with pampering or treating ourselves. And at times, that is exactly what we need. I’m giving myself a day off next week where all I will do is go to a yoga class and have a massage. That’s because I’m tired and I’m setting up my own business where my brain never really switches off – and I need some downtime to re-charge. This is self-love. At other times, I know I need to not eat another packet of crisps and have an apple instead, and to get my butt off the sofa and to the gym and get a sweat on.The key to self-love is to listen to what is really going on with us, not the story we’re telling ourselves, and then giving ourselves what we need at that moment. Sometimes what we need might not be especially pleasant; we might uncover uncomfortable truths about ourselves. This is also self-love. Sometimes we have to put in a place a strong boundary and remove people from our lives that no longer work for us. This is sad and difficult, but doing so is also an act of self-love. As Brene says self-love is “the wildest adventure we will ever take in our lives”.So remember: love yourself this Valentine’s Day – and everyday