It may sound corny to say that love heals all wounds or to talk about the healing power of love. But there is truth in these statements. Real love makes us feel accepted, secure, valued and valuable. It touches our hearts, inspires us to be our best selves, and floods our bodies with feel-good, healing hormones.
Confusion about love as healer comes because in English we have only one word to describe many types of "love". We also confuse all types of love with infatuation or the fulfilling of a need or an emotional trade of some kind. Our typical understanding of love is that it is a feeling and along with that feeling come expectations, conditions, and sometimes emotional pain.
True love is a feeling and so much more. When we are fortunate enough to experience it, both as giver and receiver, we find that love heals in mind, spirit and body and brings joy and fulfillment to our lives.
The Greek language uses the following words to distinguish between five types of love.
You are wired to heal mentally and physically. Agape love is a vehicle for this healing. It is a gift you can give and receive.
This gift is one of affection and one of action.
Having affection toward others and knowing they care for us is heartwarming. Philio, eros and storge make us feel safe and part of something. Philautia encourages us to meet our needs and take care of ourselves in healthy ways. These types of love are important parts of who we are. They help us live longer, happier lives and connect with others.
When agape love is infused into these four types of love, it elevates them to a level that nurtures, heals, and restores relationships and our inner beings. These types of love also inspire agape, although they are not required. Affection and being part of a group or tribe has healing powers in their own right. Agape takes it even deeper. Agape love heals.
Agape is love in its purest form. It is both an action verb and a state of being. It is woven with the other types of love and just as easily stands on its own. Agape is an attribute of the Divine. It comes from the heart and soul. a calling to rise above the ego nature with its focus on self, blame, and separation. It calls us to take the high road, to choose accepting ourselves and others for who we are, to forgive, to be kind. It is also a choice. When you help a stranger or refuse to buy inhumanely sourced animal products you exhibit agape love. It is the fountain from which all goodness and healing for yourself and the world flows. This unconditional love feels good because it is good. It is our authentic nature. It comes with no strings attached. It cannot be faked or manipulated or made conditional.
Some of us have been blessed enough to have been on the receiving end of agape from others. It is an equal, if not greater, blessing to give it. Sometimes we are scared to open ourselves this way. We fear being taken advantage of or being unappreciated. (Yes, this can happen, especially if we give with expectation or conditions-which is not real love). We may also feel uncomfortable receiving agape, as it reveals all our feelings of unworthiness and lack and negativity toward others. See the gift in these fears and feelings. They show you where you need to heal and transform so you can allow yourself to be more of who you really are. Perhaps a more accurate word is uncover or reveal. In truth, you are not changing who you are. You are shedding what you are not.
Keep in mind that agape is not weak. This love heals, transforms and inspires us because it is powerful beyond measure. You can be patient, or compassionate or forgiving without being misused. Sometimes it requires you to dig deep or to be tough. It may ask you to behave in a way you were taught to label as selfish. (How dare you refuse to enable me or to rest when I want you to...).
For a while this may all seem too difficult. Keep healing and heeding that still small voice of love. I promise you will come to treasure it. And remember, the biggest receiver of the gift you are giving is most often yourself. That is a good thing. Love heals giver and receiver both.
Read each word that describes unconditional agape love. Close your eyes and let it sink into your being. Tune in and notice how your body responds. To make this exercise even more powerful, use I am statements. I used the amplified translation to extend this exercise in case you are wondering where the added words come from and also changed the "not" words into its opposite as we don't want your brain reinforcing the negative.
My first response to the statements was a big physical sigh of relief. Next, my mind made me feel anxious as it kicked in with its fears and what ifs.
No worries. Trust the wisdom of your body. Remember, the fear is a signal that healing is needed. What a gift.
Buddha says, "Our sorrows and wounds are healed only when we touch them with compassion."
Research proves how love heals. Besides being the opposite of stress, feeling empathy, showing kindness and taking compassionate action is wired into our chemical make up. When someone is hurting, we instinctively offer tender touches, hugs and special care. When we are on the receiving end of such comfort, our bodies soak up those touches. Our spirits respond whether we are on the giving or receiving end of even small kindnesses.
Unconditional love creates relaxation and space for healing. It sends your cells the message to repair, rejuvenate and create. Your DNA relaxes and can replicate in a healed way. The energy of acceptance, affection and peace is expansive.
When we hug, cuddle and enjoy quality time with friends, family and pets, your brain releases oxytocin, also called the love hormone. This hormone bonds you with others, protects you from the effects of stress, and literally heals your heart.
On the other hand, stress, or more accurately distress, tells your cells to prepare for attack. Stress hormones limit the body's ability to repair itself and heal. A real or imagined sense of being attacked constricts your energy. Your DNA constricts and knots up so it cannot express fully. Stress also causes you to make unhealthy choices and to stay stuck. In time it damages your physical and mental health.
Dean Shrock, PhD, author of Why Love Heals cites scientific proof that love heals. Dr. Shrock served as Director of Mind-Body Medicine for 40 cancer centers. He found that his patients lived much longer than those receiving only conventional medical care.
Much to his surprise, his research showed that it was not his programs and teaching that made the difference for his patients. It was that they felt cared for by him.
Dr. Shrock defines love as the all pervasive energy that flows through everything. He explains that love is oneness because on a subatomic level all of us are connected.
When you experience it, you are resonating with the essence of the universe and who you are. The quantum field flows freely and health is its natural consequence. You yourself are source. Connecting emotionally and spiritually is the essence of life and health.
Self love means you accept yourself and take care of yourself mentally and physically. You allow yourself to open and receive from others as an act of self love.
For many of us, it is easier to extend a helping hand to others than to ourselves.
Dr. Bernie Siegel explains that when you do not love your life your body suffers. It is the 'good girl' who gets breast cancer. She is the one who takes care of other people's needs and desires at the expense of her own.
The 'good girl' may equate love with conforming. Perhaps you were raised to put others first, or not to think too highly of yourself. Maybe you even heard, "Who do you think you are?" You may have been raised to believe you are a sinner, that you don't deserve, or aren't worth it.
Of course, there are times that conforming is in your best interest. But conforming in order to feel loved and accepted by others stifles creativity and makes it impossible to live an authentic life. It creates stress which leads to illness. People often feel this stress on Monday - the most popular day for suicide, heart attacks and illness.
To heal, you have to put yourselves at the top of the list (or at least higher up!) This is not about selfishness. You are worth it.
We are not talking about ego here. We are talking about valuing and accepting yourself just because you are, because you were created and you exist. Because you are a part of the divine, you are worth it.
Self-love heals when you make sure you eat right, get enough rest, exercise and soul time. It heals when you recharge your batteries by spending time with your favorite people and doing what you enjoy, even by yourself, without guilt.
You may feel guilty about valuing and caring for yourself. Let that go. Putting the healing power of love in all its forms to work in your life is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and others. If being of service to others as a mother or rescuer or doctor or carpenter (etc) is important to you than you owe it to them to take care of yourself. You can only give what you have. If you get stressed out or sick or worse, you cannot be of real service to anyone. Strong words. Hard words. But true. I say them with love for you.
Love heals, not only your body, but your mind and relationships as well. It is the force that heals others and our world. We are all one.