What do you wish you had known about love when you were 20 years old?
Yikes. I mean, I didn't know anything about love when I was 20. Or 30 for that matter. But it got me thinking and I really asked myself, Self, what would you tell your twenty year old self about love?
Be gentle. Radically gentle. Be gentle with yourself. Be gentle with other people. And not in a sappy kind of way. I mean genuinely, from the heart gentle. I don't think any other advice would have gotten through to me. If someone had said this to me, instead of what I actually heard ("Don't be so sensitive," "You think too much," or "What did you expect?") I think I might have treated myself and other people with a lot more kindness.
If there's one thing I've learned from my meditation practice it's how incredibly aggressive I've been. On the most subtlest of levels. The majority of my thoughts and feelings have been rooted in self-aggression (which I still struggle with). And our culture really doesn't help much in this regard either. Typically, we're told that being gentle is considered weak. Or, at the very least, this is what is implied.
But to be gentle is to acknowledge our humanness and our vulnerability. It is to recognize our connection. It is to treat ourselves and all beings with the utmost respect and requires great courage. To be gentle is to be intimate.
I cannot imagine anything stronger or more loving than that.
What would you tell your twenty year old self about love?
(Recently came across this Lovingkindness meditation from Sylvia Boorstein, one of my favorite meditation teachers. Also, this feels like a really good time to tell you about a class my teacher in New York, Ethan Nichtern, is leading - The Journey of Relationships. Starts next week and you can listen online! I'll be there!)