As Valentine’s Day approaches hearts turn to notions of romantic love. But, as shown in Fifty Shades of Gray, love doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone, and there are at least as many shades of love as there are people in the world. In the Middle Ages the art of courtly love became popular. Knights became infatuated with maidens and went off to battle with their beloved in mind. That love often remained Platonic and never breached the doors of any bedroom. Today, as society seems obsessed with relationships and falling in love, it seems our identity is defined by whether we’re in love or not, with whom, for how long and if we plan to marry, separate, divorce or have an affair. But more and more people who are on a spiritual path are seeking also that their relationships hold a spiritual essence.
Relationships can become a way of consciously growing and expanding. In partnership we often find that the person in front of us mirrors some aspect of ourselves back to us. If it’s an aspect we love then we’re happy. On the other hand if it’s an aspect that we dislike, we turn on our partner and berate him or her, grow angry, frustrated and try to kill the demon by attaching our loved one. If we’re lucky our partner works with us to help us face our weaknesses and gently support us to grow into a better person.
In relationships, more than in most any other realm, we are tested to discover who we really our. The ways we choose to love and accept others tells a lot about how we love and accept ourselves. Love, at its best, encompasses many more tones and hues beyond the romantic shade that’s so touted at the beginning of a relationship. It extends to include compassion, acceptance, tolerance. If we’re lucky and very conscious it can even grow into unconditional love. The many shades of love we discover are as vast and as varied as the human race. By waking up and relating with awareness our love can become like a rainbow and include a broad palette of tones to enrich our lives and the lives of others.
Bio: Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life and “Garden of Bliss: Cultivating the Inner Landscape for Self-Discovery” (Llewellyn Worldwide, May 2013). A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at http://www.awakeintheworld.com and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/DebraMoffittAwakeintheWorld