“You yourself, as much as anybody in the universe deserves your love and affection.”
In order to have success in relationships, it is important to love yourself. And I’m not referring to obsession with appearance and selfies. I’m talking about a relationship with our true inner self, the Divine within.
"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."
Our culture, and most cultures from around the world, try to send us the message that we need a romantic partner to complete us. According to ancient Patanjali and his wisdom imparted in the Yoga Sutras, one of the guidelines for ethical living (as outlined in the Yamas) is Brahmacharya. It means “walking with God.” Some cultures interpret this to mean celibacy, others say sexual integrity. It concerns moving away from the downward spiral of desire that manifests in forms such as addictions to drugs or chasing the opposite sex. Some interpretations suggest that when we do decide to come together in intimate relationships, they should align with our understanding of the highest truths.
Walk with God
But what does it really mean to walk with God? Is God a bearded white man sitting up in the clouds? My understanding of the term God is something that is greater than our egoic selves- the Magnetic Intelligence that infuses everything on this earth and the entire Universe. The creator and the destroyer. Atoms, photons, cells: these building blocks work together with the help of a Life Force Energy to form the physical world that is constantly growing, changing, and transforming.
Consider the common phrase, “If you can’t see god in all, you can’t see god at all.”
When we walk through life with a deeper sense of awe and wonder, we are connecting with this force. Noticing the beauty all around us and cultivating a sense of abundance is one way to practice Brahmacharya. As I tap into this universal love, I feel the pure bliss of surrender, a trust that this benevolent, wise universe provides.
The famous love poet, Rumi, understood this concept when he stated,
What does love really mean? Although there are many different cultural interpretations of this word, one of my favorite definitions of love is “warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion. Using sensual energy in devotion to the divine is a form of yoga called bhakti. Bhakti yoga is called "love for love's sake" and "union through love and devotion," creating a dynamic flow of energy from the heart chakra towards oneness with everything, nature. By focusing on the sacredness in each moment, I connect with peace and happiness deep within myself. When I walk with God, I stay connected with the divine in everything.
One of my favorite places to practice walking with God is in the City of Love and Light itself, Paris, France. Paris is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world with its numerous parks, gardens, aesthetic architecture, sculptures that line the streets, charming cafes and restaurants, countless world famous art museums, and hidden surprises like the sparkles on the Eiffel Tower on the top of the hour. Everywhere I turn, there is something lovely to feel grateful for.
James Joyce says,
The Eiffel Tower is a symbol of everlasting love for many couples from all over the world. Thousands of marriage proposals take place under the souring tower every year. The 20 thousand twinkling lights on the top of the hour create an enveloping magic that stirs excitement and a quality of mystery, the definition of romance.
Curvilinear long and asymmetrical lines taking the forms of flower stalks, vines, insect wings, peacock feathers, and other delicate natural objects infuses Paris architecture, interior design, and furniture as a form of art that developed from the Romanticism Era. This Art Nouveau movement from the end of the 18th century and well into the 19th tuned into nature and emphasized sense, emotions, and a call to spiritual renewal with humans to be at one with nature.
The original term "ville lumière" given to Paris is actually meant to mean "city of enlightenment" in terms of culture and learning. The most famous museum in the world, The Louvre museum, is filled with potential for learning about humankind's story throughout time and cultural changes. With that in mind, learning about your deepest self can enlighten your being and fill your heart with happiness.
The Sacré Coeur, Sacred Heart, is a gorgeous basilica built on the hill overlooking Paris. Recognizable by its characteristic and unpolluted white color, when this unique white stone has contact with rainwater, the thin protective layer that naturally coats the stone, secretes a white substance that hardens in the sun, thus reflecting more light.
Further, this hill served as a sanctuary for centuries before this cathedral was erected. People came to this place to deepen their “walk with God”: the Druids prayed there thousands of years prior, and the Romans built a temple to Mars in the 5thcentury.
This part of town even holds the name “Montmarte” which translates to “Mountain of Martyrs.” Although Christ is considered the sacred martyred heart that died as an act of love, during the time of the Christian persecution, executions on the top of the hill were common, including the legendary Saint-Denis.
“To know yourself is the beginning of a life-long romance.”
Human Figure Abstract Art
The human figure is portrayed in such a variety of ways throughout many different art movements and mediums throughout museums and parks in Paris. I particularly love the abstract forms of Henry Moore and his larger than lifesize “The Festival Reclining Figure” sculpture in the Jardin des Tuileries. It reminds us to love and appreciate the body that we have now, with all of its curves and unique forms. Yoga teaches us to be kinder to ourselves, accepting this blessing of a body for what it can do now, but ultimately it acts as a temple for the inner light of love.
Mary Dunbar states,
“One has just to be oneself. The moment you accept yourself as you are, all burdens simply disappear. Then life is a sheer joy, a festival of lights.”
I hope you will fall more deeply in love with your inner Self!
In what ways does this city spark loving feelings for you?
Please contribute your thoughts in the comments section below.