by Shelly Ferec-LeGall
What does “Love” really mean? Is it the love of self, others, our work, our neighbors, the Earth? Love is respect for all of the above, it is genuine caring. The question then is, “To truly love, am I supposed to love all things and people equally?” The answer is yes, but getting to that unconditional, non-judgmental, free and open love can sometimes feel like work or take some practice.
What I have found is that there seems to be levels of love. If we see ourselves in the center of a circle, it should be the easiest to love those people and things that are in the first circle around us. This circle would likely include your family, friends, whatever you choose to worship, places you go to find your solitude, your home and alike. The second circle would extend to include people and places you know; they may be your neighbors, your co-workers, people and places that you “love” but are not present in your daily life. The circles that extend outward continue in that same formula, where you include all of the people and things that are important to you to lesser and lesser levels.
I recently spent time in Hawaii in celebration of the many teachings that my teacher, Tanis Helliwell, has shared with her students of the International Institute of Transformation. One of the wonderful things that I had the opportunity to experience was sitting with a Kumu, an elder and teacher in the Hawaiian tradition, who explained that the word “Aloha” is used today to greet people and say “hello” and “goodbye”.
Historically however, the Hawaiian people greeted each other and said the word “Alo-ha” by placing their forehead and nose together and deeply breathing in the true essence of each other. It was explained that “Alo” was the greeting of “hello” and “Ha” represented the person’s life energy. This is one way to explain the different levels of “love” that I mentioned earlier. Simply saying “Aloha” to someone that you greet as you pass by can be an expression of love but only scratching the surface; it is not that deep and un-conditional love. However, if you were to greet a friend by placing your forehead and nose on theirs and breathing in the air that surrounds them; this is bringing you immediately to the present and you can feel their energy. Many people can instantly sense if the other person is having a great day or just a good day, if they are challenged by something or are pre-occupied with the anxieties of the past and fear of the future. What you are feeling and sensing is the person’s “Ha” and you can truly be present for them and love them.
Greeting your friends by placing your forehead and nose on theirs is not how we have traditionally greeted each other in North America, however, our goal should be to try to move into the “present” to really see the person that you are greeting and to try to interpret and feel their “Ha”. This is acceptable in North America and it should be a goal for ourselves as we set our intentions for 2012. Try to embrace being present and really making ourselves available to the people and places that we speak with, think about and dream about. My resolution over the past few years has been to daily resolve to be present; wherever I am. It is easier to make that resolution daily and to remind myself as the day begins or ends how wonderful it has been to be “present” in my own footsteps. It is a gift to me to try to remain authentic in a busy world that can easily lead us to worry.
I challenge you to remain “present” in everything that you do, to take the time to look people in the eye and to really see them. You will undoubtedly feel the deeper levels of love for all that is around you. By doing this, you will help others to slow down and be present, even if only for a moment; you will be spreading your “Ha” and making the world a better place. You will soon find that magic is happening all around you and you are beginning to spread this magic to everything you see and touch. The magic was always there, perhaps you are just now slowing down enough to recognize that little miracles are happening to you and all around you; it may be an intention that you have made, a wish that you so desire or for the perfect parking spot. Little miracles are miracles too and soon those little miracles become bigger and bigger and you realize that you and the life that you live is simply amazing.
Remember to express gratitude for those miracles and feel the joy that you so deserve and share that joy with others. Joy is contagious…laugh with your friends and family, be grateful for all that you are and the love that you feel. Look at your friends, family and people that you meet deeply, exchange your “Ha”and allow the miracles to happen.
Shelly Ferec-Legal is a graduate student of Tanis Helliwell and The International Institute for Transformation. She lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two children. She is a drum circle facilitator and a Laughter Yoga Practitioner.