Love is the underlying most worthwhile aspect of human existence, and it is multi-faceted, with layer upon layer of incredible depth. Around Valentine’s Day here in the US, love is cheaply associated with sex, flowers, and chocolate (and maybe stout here in Boulder… and “heart-opening” back-bending yoga poses). These are all wonderful, but there is certainly more there.
Love is the attraction and connection to a partner or lover, the deep contentment of being held and seen, simultaneously codependent and independent, through the times of brilliant clarity and through the unsteadiness. Love is the perpetual trust and comfort of parents and children. Love is the laughter and immediate picking right back up when you see old friends after years of losing touch. Love is that spark of recognition when you meet someone for the first time, and feel as though you have known each other before. Love is the constant interplay of pure awareness (Shiva) and embodiment (Shakti) that gives form to that consciousness. Love is in the pause between breaths, full of potential, in the stillness before the first breath, and after the last breath of life. Love is a kind word, a touch, a moment of eye contact, a smile and a wave of acknowledgement to the bedraggled man at the intersection, even when you have nothing to give. Love is respect and understanding, even when you’re tempted to retaliate.
Of course, love can be difficult. What does it feel like to try to love someone whose attitudes and actions in the world are so at odds with your own worldview, who you can’t seem to understand, and would be easier to view as “other”? Sometimes our love is betrayed, or we feel undeserving of being loved. But could anyone truly be unworthy of love? Indeed, as naïve as it might sound, learning to love all others, including ourselves, and including those we consider enemies or irrevocably different, could have a profound impact in the current circumstances of our modern world. This stuff never gets old.
Back when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Panama, I used to struggle with the expectations and hopes of an entire community to help them design and build an aqueduct (among other things). I would worry in my bamboo hut, alone with the moon at night, if I was doing things right, or doing enough. One evening, I realized that I was doing just fine – because nobody else was doing it. And this applies to us all at whatever stage on whatever path we happen to be on – because nobody else is doing what you are doing, nobody else is living your life, walking your unique path. So keep in mind that whatever you’re doing, you’re doing just fine.
“Self love” is kind of a trendy term these days, frequently appearing in the context of yoga retreats, massages, and other healing practices or luxuries. As overused as the phrase might have become, there is something nevertheless potent about cultivating internal love. It seems like when you are comfortable in your own skin, calm in your mind, and confident in your body and actions and role in the world (even with all your mistakes and imperfections), you eventually happen to find an inexhaustible well of love that somehow radiates out, touching others, without any need for external validation. It may be worth a try. What could be better? And the worst that could happen is nothing.
With much love,
You will need:
1 cup cane sugar (I like it quite sweet, but feel free to use less sugar)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 old brown bananas
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup almond flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cardamom (optional, but highly recommended)
a dash or two of ground cinnamon
What to do:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk together sugar and olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Mash the old bananas, then whisk into the sugar/oil mixture. In another bowl, combine flour, almond flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, and cinnamon. Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture until it is all combined. Pour the batter into a loaf pan, and bake for 45-50 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting a warm piece or three.
After the bread cools, cover the pan with foil. It will keep just fine on the counter for a few days (and banana bread never lasts very long around here).
Get in touch if you want in, or with any questions. I sincerely encourage you to join us for this adventure in exquisite calm! There is something very special about going away on retreat, and it’s much more than just another vacation.