As an 80’s kid, I had the privilege of growing up during, what’s commonly known as, Disney’s second golden age of animated movies. I relished all-time classics such as The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and many more, during the peak years of my childhood.
Each movie introduced my young brain to stories and plots that featured archetypical characters such as the hero, princess, villain, side-kick, etc. Even as an ingenuous girl, I was able to pick up on a recurrent theme that was woven into the threads of each storyline, and that was the idea of “True Love”.
Whenever the word “love” was tossed around in these movies, it pertained to the romantic bond between the leading male and female character. This inadvertently gave me (and other kids in my generation) the false impression that the only kind of love that existed in the world was the kind that gave us butterflies in our stomachs!
Fortunately, the talented folks at Disney picked up on this oversight and rectified it by creating more progressive movies. Movies such as Frozen highlight the love between two sisters; Brother Bear relays a story about the affection that exists between brothers; and Brave is about self-love and empowerment.
I had a breakthrough when I realized that love has so many other manifestations. There is, in fact, a buffet of love with a delectable spread that we can all feast on. The ancient Greek philosophers, who were linguistic geniuses, were the only ones who were able to pick up on this blessed offering.
About 2500 years ago, within the distinguished enclaves of their stately forums, they created six words that captured the essence of the many shades of love that we can experience during our lifetime:
Eros – sexual passion
Philia – a deep friendship
Ludus – playful love
Agape – a love for everyone
Pragma – a long-standing love
Philautia – a love for self
We have every reason to be thankful to our ancient Greek luminaries for giving us the right language that identifies these six types of love. It is potentially life-saving because so many of us are ill-equipped when it comes to making sense of how we feel about others.
This is not surprising as our emotions can often seem ambiguous, ephemeral and hard to pin down. These definitions can give us the clarity that we need to have more conscious and emotionally enriching relationships.
We should also be wary of becoming influenced by our society’s fixation on the passion and playfulness that is characteristic of the first flush of love. Love songs and “Rom-Coms” can leave us craving for it, and if we get too hung up on seeking it, we could find ourselves stuck in a dark and cold hole of loneliness.
The truth is that love is an autonomous choice. We have the freedom to cultivate it within our hearts by simply choosing loving thoughts. Within us is a well-spring of tender emotions flowing from our heart’s center, which we can channel and share with others at any time.
Each and every spiritual tradition postulates that love has the highest frequency in the Universe and is therefore capable of doing wonders both within us and around us. By tapping into various forms of love, we raise not only our vibration but the vibration of the collective consciousness.
Here are some of the ways by which you can open yourself up to enjoying the 6 flavors of love:
- Acknowledge the love that exists in your current relationships: You may not realize it but your life is already abounding with love. You may have failed to notice it in the background while you were seeking the popular candy-floss type of love. I suggest that you acknowledge the other kinds of love in your life by looking over the definition of the six types of love, writing down which of the six you have in your life right now and noting the names of the people with whom you share each kind of love.
- Remove any blocks that are preventing you from loving others: Just as how dams block the flowing waters of a river, our past memories and wounds may block us from experiencing a healthy flow of love. Some of the practices that can help you remove these internal blocks include journaling and/or speaking with a friend, therapist or coach. Once you gain awareness of these pain points, the next step is to heal them and give the care that they need.
- Build on the love for yourself: It is impossible to love others in a healthy way if we don’t love and respect ourselves. We show self-love by making time to meet our personal needs, building healthy boundaries to protect our well-being and speaking to ourselves with love and kindness. Remember that if you can’t take care of you, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else (without harming yourself), no matter how much you love them.
- Spread the love: When our hearts are brimming with self-love, we enhance our ability to share our love with others. Consciously seek out and cultivate a variety of relationships that can give you access to the different experiences of love. As you go through this process, always be mindful about building healthy, win-win and nurturing bonds that will benefit both you and the other person.
According to me, true and lasting love feels wholesome. It always leaves me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. I liken it to how I feel when I’m sipping on warm hot chocolate while sitting on a comfy couch beside a crackling fireplace and watching snow fall outside my window.
It’s relaxing, satisfying and reminds me of my divine connection to something bigger and greater than myself.
All my best on your journey,
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