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  • Nisah Razad

What's Love Got To Do With It?


What Is Love?

The first time I understood the meaning of true unbounded love, was after days of morning sessions repeating the same four verses over, and over and over again.


I had wanted to travel to Nepal, trek to the top of a mountain to a monastery with no wifi or telephone connection and laundry facilities to meditate in silence for ten days. This was two years after the birth of my first child and the thought of having no contact worried me so I chose not to go.


So I ended up in the Blue Mountains in the east coast of Australia instead. It was there, upon the thousandth repetition of loving-kindness meditation that I felt a sensation deep from the core of my being. A powerful force radiating ever so gently beyond my physical body that could seem to travel infinitely outward. Man, did my neural circuits have a blast!




Love As An Umbrella Term

During the meditation retreat, our morning sessions consisted of loving-kindness meditation which covered an array of activities. Here I learnt to forgive, practice compassion and learn to love beyond conditions. I learnt the antidote to fear, to negative states of mind and negative states of being.


I think it’s important to add that I am by no means an angel. The turbulence inside me exists just like turbulence exists in nature. We see it in storms, in the monstrous waves only unfortunate sailors dream of surviving, and we see it in what we call natural disasters. As a part of nature ourselves, it is the same type of force that surfaces by way of correcting or responding to a stimulus.


Compassion and Forgiveness

What I found most interesting and most effective, was first practicing forgiveness and compassion to others. I began the act of forgiving my grandmother who had passed away weeks before my son was born. My thoughts were cruel towards her during her remaining living days. Although I loved her to the extent that I knew how to at the time, my lack of compassion blinded me. I felt that there were so many things she could have done to stay afloat in her health, but instead, she carried with her an air of solemn resignation. Amongst the grief I was also angry. I later learnt the reasons my grandmother chose a path of surrender, and yet, the essence of that anger still resided deep in the crevices underneath all the rubble of emotions I dared not attend to.


As I was practicing the act of forgiveness; I began wholeheartedly forgiving. I collected the rubble of emotions, dusted them until they were gleaming gems and I placed them into their rightful homes. The floor was swept clean and the crevices finally caught light. Just like clouds parting after a storm revealing the sun, this too, elicited a similar response. The essence of love in its’ radiant form cradled the anger, whispered sweet words like a mother to her baby, and lulled anger to love.


This experience marked the beginning of my healing journey. I have used it as a powerful tool to forgive many. Oftentimes, I learn that the problem begins with myself. Thus, I have learnt so much about who I am, why I am and most importantly, I began to learn how to forgive myself and practice self-compassion. I have used loving-kindness as a tool to help me in the most darkest of hours. Unearthing feelings that have been buried for a period of time is akin to navigating yourself through a storm while wondering if you’ll make it out in one piece.


Forgiveness requires compassion, and compassion requires forgiveness. But, in order to successfully forgive and be compassionate, one must first understand unconditional love. Mastering unconditional love is a lifelong journey, and I believe it is the one most basic and most important of all tools to have especially whilst healing.



Love Defined

When in our evolutionary timeline as Homo Sapiens did we begin to define the term love? We throw the term around in Hollywood movies as lust, passion, sexual partnering and we demand it to be reciprocated in order to feel whole. We are told there are many different types of love: Love for your husband, love for your children, love for your work. It’s no wonder we have a whole lotta confused people out there. The truth is, our kind has not yet mastered the meaning of love. This is rather evident when we are constantly at war with ourselves, with each other, with our diseases and with nature.


We seek to find love outside of ourselves and we may just need to consider that perhaps, beneath all the rubble is love. It is the essence of life itself, weaving its’ formless tendrils within and throughout the physical and non-physical universe. It is a love that creates worlds and also a love with the ability to dismantle that which does not serve the equilibrium of the whole. It knows not humane morals but that of the values of nature. It does not belong to us as humans, nor our animal relations and so on, because love simply is. Just like the way any forces of nature simply is.


The Mechanics

Every single person on this planet has the ability to unearth this force. What a beautiful thing to think, that if it were love as an energetic force driving the formation of atoms into the basic chemical elements, which then manifests itself into a single-cell organism, then to a multi-celled organism, then onto much more complex builds of cellular organisation, to an organism that functions consciously, and the ability to be conscious of the force that has driven us forward in the first place is realising itself! That may take time to sink in… What could all this mean? Well, it certainly is a journey of self-discovery of sorts.


One of the many ways of realising our potential is by loving thyself. This can be done in a myriad of ways but I can only speak of one or two methods in which love can be realised. I felt the calling to meditate in line with the Buddhist precepts, as their fundamental values align with my own. Vipassana Meditation has been observed for centuries and practice groups are widely available in all parts of the globe and the community is based on self-growth, connection, humour, humility, sharing and acceptance.


A lot of today's self-help guides take inspiration from age old methods steeped in tradition, culture and religion. I believe there are no limits and no hard and fast rules as such, given the complexity of our societal melding and constructs. One must, however, have a set of values to be guided upon. Just like having workplace guidelines, having a set of values will help you immensely with progressing through life kicking goals instead of kicking yourself up the arse when mistakes are made. This is the same with meditation as a practice.


Practice immense self-compassion.

There are a number of precepts that the Buddhists observe. These precepts are the boundary guidelines containing their fundamental values or virtues. In a world rich with diversity such as ours, we must make way for flexibility and adaptation. I believe this should be done on an individual level because what is important to you may differ to the person next to you. If you don’t know what your values are – find them, question them and create values that aligns with you. Unless you’re a nazi, then I take that back. Once you have these values, dig deep and try to understand where these values come from. What underlies your values? What are they based on? Are they based on fear? Are they based on security? Or are they based on love?


We want to aim for the latter. If we can slowly start to rebuild a set of values that not only serves us, but serves the entire existence of the universe (you may certainly start within your community), then we are ready. Our hearts are open to receive.


LOVING KINDNESS MANTRA

This meditation is in recognition of the Buddhist precepts and of the Theravada Buddhist meditation practices. It is a concentration practice that requires the following four verses to be repeated several times. You may start with ten minutes, then build it up to one hour and more if you so please. I personally found it a lovely practice for the morning or evening. The words in the verses can be replaced to your liking. I recommend starting off with the provided verses and once you get the feeling of it, you may change the words.


May I be safe and protected from inner and outer harm

May I be free from mental suffering

May I be free from physical suffering

May I be healthy and happy


Once these verses have been repeated a few times, you will feel a sense of embodiment within each verse. The embodiment is key to the practice. This is when you have the freedom to shorten, change or replace going forward in your practice. After a few sessions, you may also direct the meditation to a particular person or group.


May you be safe and protected from inner and outer harm,

May you be free from mental suffering,

May you be free from physical suffering,

May you be healthy and happy.


I feel like a magical fairy when these words are directed to the people I love, so naturally this had more of an effect for me. At first I felt really selfish repeating good things upon myself with the disregard of others and wasn’t sure how to feel about it. Of course this is not the intention of the meditation at all.


So, once you have directed your attention to the people you love, give it a red hot go and direct it to the person you are not so fond of. When I mean give it a red hot – you will eventually feel something other than something negative for this person. This is the path to embodying unconditional love. Trust me, it gets easier. As you go directing this to others and deepening the practice within yourself, you may unleash feelings or sensations that are not so comfortable or familiar. You may be directing your attention to someone who had hurt you terribly in the past. Pay attention to the feelings that arise.


These are the feelings that I mentioned earlier. The dusting and the placing in its rightful homes. The rubble of emotions. Now this requires a different type of meditation practice altogether, one that outlines how to pay attention in detail. Nevertheless, paying attention is enough.


Once you have gained some experience in the meditation, you will begin to see its versatility. You may use it as an antidote to fear and you may use it as an antidote to negative states of mind. I will not explain how because your embodiment of the verses will pave the way.


What does this have to do with healing?

Our mental and emotional aspects are vital to the state of our health. The suppression of thoughts and emotions can lead to physical manifestations of disease. We do not have to be conscious of it and yet, it still appears. The root cause of many illnesses can be a simple feeling that has been unattended for far too long. In science and in Buddhism everything is energy. The nature of energy is to flow. Look around and pay attention to the world around you. You will see the examples everywhere in nature. Have a look at stagnant energy and its outcome. The energy of water in its planetary circulation compared to stagnant water. Or simply being able to communicate our feelings to another as opposed to keeping it to ourselves. Energy is shared, it is giving and receiving.


We are not meant to bury feelings. We see it, feel it, acknowledge it, give it a little pat and it goes on its merry way. We now live in a society where things are graded and departmentalised. Or dangerously simplified as good or bad. The way to free ourselves from this way of thinking is to see things the way they are without labelling as either good or bad. You may describe it objectively. Then describe it subjectively. It is most certainly a start anyway. Once everything is viewed as energy, including your feelings and thoughts, understand that there is neither good nor bad. Pain is pain, what does it feel like? If you can measure it, how big would it be? Does it have a shape? Investigate the feeling, don’t run away from it. This is the art of healing. Paint it, write it, sing it. It needs to flow. Most importantly, do all this in the gentle embrace of love and compassion.

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