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Love: What Everyone Wants but Never Really Understand

Love: What Everyone Wants but Never Really Understand

We’ve all experienced the gut wrenching, plot flipping, sweaty palm emotion that we’ve come to know as love. But love is much deeper than these panicky reactions. In fact, once you have a chance to get comfortable and let those feelings pass, you’ll know if it was truly love; or something else.

So, what does love mean?

The concept of love is very easily mistaken for its similar counterparts; lust and infatuation.

The feelings we experience during the beginning stages of any of these tend to blur our judgment; mistaking something casual for something very deep and meaningful. But there are a few very prominent distinctions that can help you to decide what it is that you’re actually feeling.

Love: an intense and constant feeling of deep affection.

  • Happens over time.
  • Lasts, gets deeper with time.
  • Accepts the person as a whole, flaws and all.
  • Deeper than physical attraction.
  • Energizing.
  • Improves overall deposition; brings balance to your life.
  • Survives arguments.
  • Considerate of the other person.
  • In love with the actual person.

Lust: very strong sexual desire.

  • Happens instantly.
  • Tends to be fleeting.
  • Completely superficial, only involves an individual’s personal appearance and performance.
  • Very fickle; won’t last in the face of conflict.

Infatuation: an intense but short-lived passion for someone or something.

  • Occurs instantly.
  • Powerful but fleeting.
  • Idealized image of partner, only showing them your good side.
  • Focus on physical attraction.
  • Emotionally draining.
  • Brings out jealousy & possessiveness.
  • May cause you to neglect other relationships.
  • Avoids arguments.
  • Selfish.
  • In love with the feeling of love.

The Greeks answered the question “what does love mean” with 7 types of love.

“According the Greek Mythology, humans were originally created with two heads, four arms, four legs, and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate beings, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other half” — Plato

The Ancient Greeks had strong theories and explanations when it came to love and how we love. The quote above is in relation to soul mates, if only we could all be so lucky as to find that one person who we feel truly completes us. Unfortunately, you’re on your own in that department. Luckily, we are all capable of deciphering the type of love that we are, or the lover that we happen to be at the moment, as it tends to change. The Greeks broke up the different types of lovers and love into seven categories.[1]

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1. Agape: Known as the unconditional love, but also a universal love. A love for your fellow man, children, God, nature, whatever it is that makes them swoon. This love is accepting, regardless of flaws, in fact the flaws are embraced. They can still love without liking the object of their affection at the time. It is a unselfish love, sacrificing without the intention of receiving. It is a translation of love in the verb form; it is love being demonstrated by another.

2. Phileo: An affectionate kind of love. Warm and tender. Typically a platonic love. Phileos desire friendship, and strive to make deep bonds with their acquaintances. It is translated as love in the noun form.

3. Storge: The love of family and friendship. It is the love that parents feel for their children. It is the love that causes best friends to fall into a romantic love, and for lovers to transition into best friends. This love is unconditional, and accepting of flaws. This love is committed, sacrificial, secure, comfortable, and safe.

4. Eros: A passionate and intense love that arouses deep romantic feelings. This love triggers feelings of euphoria, and makes you want to profess your love to your partner. (Perhaps sometimes a bit too soon.) It is deeply emotional and sexual. This love tends to be fleeting and fizzle out quickly. It is more infatuation that it is true love.

5. Ludus: Playful, uncommitted love. A lustful love. Acts of this love may be through dancing, teasing, flirting, and seducing. This love is noncommittal and requires absolutely no strings attached.

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6. Pragma: Practical love, focused on duty or long-term interests. Sexual attraction takes a back seat while variables such as personal qualities, compatibilities and goals are the priority.

7. Philautia: Self-love. A person with high self-esteem and a deep respect for themselves.

Falling in love can make you feel neurotic and strung out, almost as if you’re coming down from drugs- because technically you are.

According to Anthropologist Helen Fisher of Rutgers University[2], who studied 166 societies and found that the concept of romantic love was prevalent in 147 of them. She deciphered this information by comparing MRI scans of individuals who were very newly but madly in love. She broke down the similarities into 3 stages of falling in love based on our brain chemistry. Although love may on some level have some deep and spiritual elements that are not tangible enough for study, one thing is for certain.

“Love is kept alive by something basic in our biological nature.” — Richard Schwartz, Harvard Medical Professor

In other words, these emotions are nature’s way of encouraging procreation.

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Lust: The initial attraction.

You’ve just met someone, and you’ve decided that you’re into them. This is where the hormones estrogen and testosterone have come into play. You’ve decided that they make a suitable mate.

Attraction: This is when you start to experience the butterflies in your tummy.

And this is when the excitement to see them but the overwhelming anxiety as well. That’s because the neurotransmitters in your brain are firing off some pretty powerful stuff.

  • Adrenaline: activates your stress response, increase blood levels of adrenaline and cortisol.
  • Dopamine: simulates desire and reward, triggering intense pleasure, is comparable to the effects of cocaine on the brain.
  • Serotonin: alters your thought process, this is why you can’t stop thinking of your lover.

According to a study conducted by a Dr. Donatella Marazziti in Pisa, Italy involving 20 couples who are very newly in love, she found that the serotonin levels of the individuals were the same as someone who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Attachment: The bond that keeps couples together long enough to procreate.

Here, two of the strongest love drugs are released, rendering you physically addicted to your partner.

  • Oxytocin: a very powerful hormone that is released during an orgasm. It deepens the feeling of attachment after sex. The more sex you have with your partner, the deeper your bond will be because more of the chemical has been released.
  • Vasopressin: also released after sex. This aids in the feelings of long term desire.

Richard Schwartz and Jacqueline Olds, Harvard Medical School Professors and long term lovers found[3] that we have two neural pathways that decip her the judgment of negative and positive emotions. When the “love drugs” are administered, the neural pathway for negative emotions is hindered, thus proving that love is actually blind.

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They also found that if the love lasts for two years, the emotional roller coaster will eventually steady itself out. The serotonin and cortisol levels drop and normalize once more. Dopamine, the reward and pleasure hormone is still very prevalent and can stay the same even after 30 years of marriage; although the craving and desire for your lover does lessen. Love no longer is the stress, but becomes a defense mechanism against the stress. The love transitions from passionate to compassionate.

Don’t go looking for love. Let it come to you. Make yourself magnetic.

The best way to find love is to let it come to you. Sounds a bit unrealistic and incredibly counterproductive, but hear me out. If you put out the right vibe, it will attract the sort of energy that you want in your life.

1. Love yourself.

Let’s face it. You’re awesome. And just because you’re “alone” right now or haven’t met “the one” doesn’t change a thing. Commit to yourself to be the best that you can be. You can’t rely on anyone else to make you happy, and this practice will seriously hinder your personal growth.

So take the initiative. Get out there and be the boss that you know you can be. Instead of searching for a lover, search for your best self. You will be happy. You will radiate confidence and people respond positively. What you put out there has a huge impact on what you’ll eventually bring in.

2. Get to know your lover before taking the plunge.

Sure, these new emotions are so exciting and you want to jump right in and take this thing to the home stretch. But just one second. You’re glossing over all of the good parts. You’re missing out on the intimacy, which will eventually cause the destruction of your relationship in the long run.

Really get to know your prospective partner. Take the time to know their interests; see if they match with yours, or inspire you to expand your interests to encompass theirs. Build a genuine connection with someone before you let those three little words slip out. It will be all the more satisfying when you truly deeply feel it, and you know those feelings are reciprocated.

Reference

[1]Psychology Today: These Are the 7 Types of Love
[2]You Amazing Brain: The science of love
[3]Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute: Love and the Brain

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Jenn Beach

Traveling vagabond, freelance writer, & plantbased food enthusiast.

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Published on November 28, 2018

How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

The woman in yoga pants sitting in a lotus position atop a rocky cliff, overlooking a valley draped in fog — this is the glamorized version of meditation you’ll come across as you search. Yet if you’re seeking meditation to calm your mind, a fantastic setting with no distractions is rarely available.

So how to do meditation?

The truth about meditation is it’s an everyday practice for anybody. You could be a mountain climber or you could be an accountant — either way, your home is just as good a place for meditation as any.

Are you seeking to corral your racing thoughts and relieve a sense of unease, awkwardness, or uncertainty? Look to home meditation to cultivate a laid-back, creative, confident, and organized frame of mind. According to extensive scientific research, meditation relieves stress and anxiety, decreases blood pressure, improves sleep, and improves your ability to pay attention. [1]

From start to finish, this article will give you quick, easy steps to follow so that you can meditate at home regularly. You’ll begin by assessing, identifying and altering things that need to change in your home environment. You’ll end by understanding the basics of meditation so that you can let yourself do what you already know how to do deep down in the hidden reality of your mind.

You’re ready to let your mind be, and just be, in your own home — let’s begin.

1. Find the Right Space in Your Home

Where is your right space for meditation at home? Is it in your basement, your bedroom, your living room, or your study?

The right space will be one with the least distractions built in to its purpose. In that case, it may be your bedroom. If you’ve set up your bedroom to be a place for sleep and only sleep, it will lend itself well to meditation.

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The right space will also be a reasonably spacious one. Although comfort is not your goal, you need room to sit. Choose a space that is private, spacious, and quiet. If you don’t have a space in your home like this, create one. Free it from clutter and get it ready for you to meditate there any time.

Ultimately, your right space is one you feel comfortable meditating in, the space you can enter with no other expectations.

2. Improve the Feng Shui in Your Home and Meditation Space

Feng shui means “wind and water.” It’s the ancient Chinese art of placement.[2]

Feng shui improves harmony with nature. Adherents to the principles of feng shui believe all things have energy (chi). The focus of feng shui is to send negative chi (sha) out of the space and attract positive chi (yun).

Here’s the truth about feng shui: it’s not complicated or hard. The following will influence feng shui positively in your home and meditation space:

  • Living things, such as plants
  • Beautiful objects, such as sculptures or even a well-polished piece of driftwood
  • Mirrors in symmetrical placement with the lines in a room
  • Mellifluous sounds, such as trickling water or wind chimes
  • Furniture away from walls
  • A centerpiece, such as a small table with books or an ornate lamp on it
  • Incense or something else that smells good
  • A lack of clutter and an attention to organization that emphasizes the usefulness, purpose, and essential being of each item in your house

Given that feng shui is connected to Taoism and Buddhism, it will complement the meditative atmosphere you want to cultivate in your home.

3. Eliminate Pervasive Distractions That Can Harm Your Wellbeing

In part, meditation is about accepting the existence of distractions. When you meditate, you don’t judge and assign a positive or a negative value to distractions — the ticking of a clock, an itch, the barking of a dog — you let them occur and let them dissipate like waves.

However, in the same way that feng shui removes objects that attract negative chi, there are certain types of distractions that don’t belong in your meditative space. You must remove them.

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In a survey of 1,700 people who visited social media sites at least 30 times per week, 30 percent reported high levels of sleep disturbance and 25 percent presented symptoms of depression. [3]

Those individuals who experience sleep disturbances or mental health issues due to social media are not setting boundaries between themselves and their connected devices.

Part of learning how to meditate at home is learning how and when to set boundaries between yourself and your connected devices and social media accounts. If you need your phone for a timed meditation practice, but you normally receive social media notifications on your phone, set it on Do Not Disturb or Airplane mode during your meditation time.

4. Flow into Meditation Through Time

Next, set aside a time for meditation each day. It’s right to be structured and disciplined about your meditation time.

Buddhist monks whose lives revolve around meditation are very structured and organized with their tasks each day. Structure provides the balance your being needs. Once you are meditating, your mind has no need for time. Outside of your given meditation time, you are completing tasks essential to the wellbeing of yourself and your home.

Consider meditating as the sun rises. This is a quiet and contemplative time of the day when it is natural to set your day’s balance through meditation.

5. Recognize the Rightness of Doing Nothing

At home, you’re probably used to always doing something. When you do meditation at home, you are being, which is doing something and nothing simultaneously.

Maryville University points out that successful people unplug by doing nothing. [4] Not only this, but they set the right expectations for the time during which they will do nothing.

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We oftentimes look forward to the future by expecting something to happen and by expecting something of ourselves. To meditate from home, look to that time and that space by expecting nothing. You will not do any chores. You will not catch up on work. You will do nothing but meditate for a certain amount of time each day.

This might sound crazy, but in taking on meditation from home, you’re not expecting yourself to improve and become a better person. As Ram Dass put it, you are expecting yourself to be here now.

6. Choose from the Incredible Variety of Meditative Practices

As I outlined in my post on types of meditation, there are many different and not-so-different types of meditation from which to choose.

Many beginners find it right to choose guided meditation, for which there are apps, videos, and audio tapes available.

If you are not necessarily a beginner but are merely moving your meditative practice into the home, you can facilitate a practice such as Nada Yoga — sound meditation — by placing a fountain in your space or listening to ambient alpha wave music.

If you’re used to meditating outside of your home — perhaps you are drawn to the outdoors because of the sounds of nature — a practice like Nada Yoga can help you transition into your home space.

7. Understand You Can Meditate Any Time at Home

What if I told you to throw out all of the tips that came before this? Sounds crazy but that is how radical mindfulness meditation really is. We don’t think of it as radical because it is now ingrained in our popular discourse.

Mindfulness meditation does start as a sitting meditation practice. It goes like this:

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  1. Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
  2. Focus on breathing. Inhale through your nose slowly and exhale slowly.
  3. As distracting thoughts arise, don’t judge them and don’t hang onto them. Let each thought go as you focus on breathing.
  4. Treat all physical sensations and feelings in the same way you do thoughts: register them, then let them go, returning to breathing.
  5. Extend this practice to everyday activity, remaining “in the moment” of the body’s activity with each new breath.

As you practice mindfulness around your home, note the physical characteristics of the things in themselves. Note physical sensations: sounds, smells, textures, appearances, tastes. Stop now and then and do a body scan from head to toe, noting what each section is doing and how it’s feeling.

Note thoughts that come and the emotions attached to them: let them go. Concentrate on the breath and the physical activities — including the details of the objects with which you’re interacting.

You’ll notice that your home will lend itself to a meditative state when things are in order. This is where true feng shui originates. You will naturally sense how the arrangement of things affects the energy in a room.

Clutter will disappear because mindfulness tells you to dispose of unnecessary things. Plants will bloom. Birds will make their nests in your backyard. Your home will smell pleasing and people will naturally be attracted to it and your presence.

You’ve Reached the Beginning and the End

Once you are able to do mindfulness meditation even as you are attending to the normal and abnormal requirements of your home, the mundane and the unusual, you are at both the beginning and the end.

You are at the beginning because meditation never ends. Continue setting aside time each day to do sitting meditation in the space you’ve set aside. Continue practicing mindfulness as you attend to the energy of your house, your own energy, and the energy of those around you.

You are at the end because you grasped what it means to do meditation at home: it means letting go of cares and concerns and being in your home as you attend to the right tasks. The right tasks are those necessary for being in your home.

As you sit in your home, rise, open the door and you leave, you are calm in your mind because you are home.

Featured photo credit: Simon Rae via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Healthline: 12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation
[2]Marquette University: Feng Shui: The Wind and Water
[3]Rutgers University: Social Media and Well-Being
[4]Maryville University: How Successful People Unplug

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