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What Exactly Is Love? And How Do We Learn To Love?

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“Love expects no reward. Love knows no fear. Love Divine gives – does not demand. Love thinks no evil; imputes no motive. To Love is to share and serve.” – Swami Sivananda

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Defining Love

Much is written about love. Countless songs have love as the main theme and thousands of movies include love and romance as the underlying premise. Religions talk about love and kindness, battles have been fought over love and it seems almost everything we do, say and feel, has undertones of love intertwined throughout. When it comes to describing love it can be very difficult to articulate.

Some common definitions of love found in the dictionary mention feelings of affection and attachment for another. Feelings of connectedness and goodwill, warm affection or devotion, sexual desire and attraction are also used to describe love. When you feel love it is hard to describe; it is a warm fuzzy feeling that just makes you do things you wouldn’t normally do.

Neuroscience has studied the brain and discovered that various chemicals present in the brain are involved with influencing how humans experience love. Oxytocin is responsible for sexual arousal, bonding and maternal behaviours, while serotonin impacts on the well-being and happiness levels of individuals.

A host of other influential chemicals such as testosterone, oestrogen, norepinephrine and vasopressin are also  responsible for attraction, attachment and bonding of couples. While the scientific community continues to delve deeper into understanding how the brain works in relation to love, many questions remain unanswered.

One could argue that human beings have one sole purpose, that is to love and be loved. It seems we do many things that have underlying themes of love and affection, our primary motive of seeking some form of love and happiness. Is our desire to experience the ultimate feeling of love the most important theme of our lives? For many, somewhere deep inside of us is an insecurity, a feeling that we are not good enough. This feeling makes us do things in the hope that we will be loved.

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The marketers in the world thrive on this insecurity and our need to be loved. Hence why we see a plethora of advertising geared toward making us feel lousy and that we aren’t good enough and we need more to be truly happy and feel loved.  That’s why in almost every advertisement everyone is happy and in love and having a jolly time. Yet the reality is that the people who buy these items, as a generalisation, are seeking nothing more than recognition and love.

Born to Love

“Love is something eternal; the aspect may change, but not the essence.” – Vincent van Gogh

Nothing is more natural than love. Unfortunately we get distracted along the journey of life, forgetting what it is like to truly love unconditionally. If we act with love and compassion throughout life we will discover that our paradigm changes and we are free to engage in a more meaningful way with others. It sounds clichéd but John Lennon and Paul McCartney summed it up with their hit song ‘All you need is love.’ Presently, as individuals and as a society, we are living in a state of fear. Love is timeless, shapeless, separate from nothing, enduring, constant, non-judgemental, kind, not jealous, giving and removes all boundaries. We are scared of the uncertainty that comes from political, economic and environmental change. Only when we turn this fear into love, do we see a shift in humanity, certainty and the coming together of all, as one.

How much do you love yourself?

“Real love, true love is unconditional, love that places conditions on another is counterfeit, not real at all.” – Neale Donald Walsch

It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? For most, this question has never crossed our mind. What does it truly mean to love yourself and what are the implications? The conditioning we receive over the course of our lives leaves us questioning ourselves. We compare ourselves to others and question a whole range of other physiological, psychological and emotional aspects of our lives. We beat ourselves up, wanting to become better, stronger, faster; we compete in an attempt to get approval, respect and love. Finding fault with ourselves we spend the rest of our life trying to live up to some kind of expectation that exists in our mind. This yearning to be something else, someone else, is a complete waste of our energy.

Love Yourself Before You Can Love Another

“Nurture your true nature. Only talk the truth. Make love your gift to others” – Lao Tzu

The bible frequently talks about love and compassion. One of the most significant teachings that Jesus promoted lies in his answer to the following question. What is the greatest commandment in the law? He answers: “Love the lord, your god with all your soul and with your mind,” the second most important commandment he says is “Love your neighbour as you love yourself.” These verses are effectively saying love is the most important thing there is, love is all there is. We must love ourselves completely, in mind, body and spirit. By doing this we can realise our true nature and potential and our connection or oneness with all.

By being connected with a higher power, that is, your higher self, you unleash and tap into the power of the universe and the laws of nature. By loving your neighbour (not just the guy next door), then you are respecting the highest law, the law of love. If everyone lived this way there would be no need for laws, controls and systems to apprehend and punish and there would be no need for war. Yet we spend much of our time living in fear and the opposite occurs. Ultimately we end up sabotaging our relationships due to our lack of self-esteem and self-worth. We have to be at peace with ourselves before we can truly love.

So what happens if we let go of everything and start to love ourselves for who we are?

We understand we are perfect just as we are and that there is no need for external influences to make us feel good. By understanding and loving who we are, we can move towards a place of compassion not only for ourselves but for others. If we love ourselves then fear disappears, there is no need for our ego to hold us hostage to its fanatical desire to attain perfection. With this realisation we are free and open to a whole new range of possibilities.

Anthony De Mello raises an interesting point about love in his book ‘Awareness.’ He illustrates that people are “never really in love with anyone.” Instead he believes “people are only really in love with a prejudiced and hopeful idea of that person.” Many people are in love with the idea of another person. They love how they look, their status in society, their intellect and what they do. There may be a myriad of things that they love about another person and sometimes the idea of being in love confuses love itself. We find love only by seeking out a reflection of ourselves in someone else. When I look at you I see me, that is what we are really saying when we find a partner whom we love. By only loving ourselves can we let ourselves love. If we do not love and understand ourselves then it is difficult, if not impossible, to have any kind of lasting loving relationship with another. If there is no clarity around whom we are, then how can we expect to find, appreciate and truly love someone else.

Loving Without Condition

To love without condition starts and ends with you. To love unconditionally requires some effort and practice. It is what the Buddha talked about when he spoke about living with compassion. It is emanating the feeling or vibration from within. It can be manifested as simply as projecting loving thoughts to another being, animal or plant. Before we do anything we must empty ourselves of all negative thoughts and attachments, forgive and let go of all that holds us back from experiencing pure unconditioned love. We must choose to focus only on the good in each and every person; no matter how deeply this ‘good’ may be buried.

Unconditional love is love without condition, that is, you don’t want or expect anything in return for your affections, efforts or counsel. The great masters and teachers of the world loved everybody without condition; Jesus, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Buddha, they saw everybody and everything as they truly were. They saw past the physical into a deeper realm of potential, that of unconditioned love. All the great masters know that love and compassion exists within us all, with the physical world clouding our judgment. Masters know that unconditional love is the most important thing we can give as humans.

To love unconditionally we must be selfless, without wanting, needing, we are in a state of complete giving. James Hillman in his book The Soul’s Code writes, “When we fall in love, we feel super important because we are able to reveal who we truly are, giving a glimpse of our souls. When we love unconditionally we are free to let go and share with others our true being.”

CoverONENOVArticle by Andrew Martin editor of onenesspublishing  and author of  One ~ A Survival Guide for the Future…

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Excerpts from One ~ A Survival Guide for the Future…

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Consciousness

Study Shows That Horses Understand Our Emotions & Remember Us Deeply

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    In a recent study, researchers at the universities of Sussex and Portsmouth have discovered that horses can recognize and recall human expression.

  • Reflect On:

    We are all interconnected and it is beautiful to see more studies coming up that clearly showcase just how aware and in tune animals can be and are.

The more in tune with myself I strive to become, the more drawn I am to explore how connected we all are – not solely with one another, but with everything. This, like many other deeper concepts surrounding life, begs to answer the ever-present question of ‘are there other emotionally intelligent beings out there?’

One could argue that their dogs or other galactic beings (if real) could be emotionally intelligent, but as we look at all of the research, it is clear that most living organisms actually display a very obvious intelligence. From lobsters to plants, they have all been known to display some form of intelligence. This is precisely what was revealed when a recent study explored horses and their interaction with humans.

Let’s take a step back real quick. If you have ever owned or spent a lot of time riding with one particular horse, chances are good that you’ve felt some sort of special connection with them — and wondered if horses even like humans. Maybe you’ve felt like they were actually your friend, or a small part of your family, and wanted to know if the feeling was reciprocal. Research is now confirming that that connection isn’t all in your head — and anyone who has ever had a pet before, horse or not, definitely won’t be surprised at some of these recent findings.

In a recent study, researchers at the universities of Sussex and Portsmouth showed domestic horses photographs of humans with either a happy or angry expression on their faces. Then, later on, the horses were introduced to the same people they saw in the photographs, now with neutral expressions. This new study shows that horses can actually understand and remember human emotions, which is something that makes them seem even more magical than they already did.

“Researchers watched the eye movements of horses as they met the photograph subjects in real life. The horses perceived those who had been photographed with an angry face as more threatening.” – UPI

Horses were more wary of people they previously saw in a photo with an angry expression on their face. Photo by University of Portsmouth/University of Sussex

UPI reports that previous research showed horses tend to focus on negative or threatening objects and events with their left eye, as the right hemisphere of their brain is tasked with assessing risk. In the new experiment, researchers found horses stared at subjects who had been photographed with an angry expression using their left eye.

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“What we’ve found is that horses can not only read human facial expressions but they can also remember a person’s previous emotional state when they meet them later that day — and, crucially, that they adapt their behavior accordingly,” Karen McComb, a professor at the University of Sussex, said in a news release. “Essentially horses have a memory for emotion.”

Scientists have previously shown horses can recognize expressions, but the latest findings, published this week in the journal Current Biology, are the first to show the mammals can recall an expression linked with an individual’s face.

“We know that horses are socially intelligent animals, but this is the first time any mammal has been shown to have this particular ability,” Portsmouth researcher Leanne Proops said. “What’s very striking is that this happened after just briefly viewing a photograph of the person with a particular emotional expression — they did not have a strongly positive or negative experience with the person.”

This is a beautiful discovery in and of itself as stated above, outside of ourselves there had not been any recording of other mammals showing this ability.

The Takeaway

With more of us beginning to turn inward for growth, it is beautiful to see that more and more research is coming to the forefront revealing our fellow animal kingdom as being connected and in tune with us as much as their surroundings. At times when everything else seems to be chaotic, remember to be still. The real magic within us and our connectedness to everything is what oneness consciousness is all about. You are not alone in this world, let alone in the universe. It is in our awareness that we allow bonds that were seen as less than to blossom — it is in our remembrance of Self that we re-member as One with all.

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Consciousness

Full Moon In Aquarius: Pleasure & Originality

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We are having a Full Moon in Aquarius which is exact on August 15th at 12:29 pm, Universal Time. It will appear the fullest on the night of August 14th in the Americas and on the night of 15th everywhere else.

This is the peak of the Lunar cycle which began two weeks prior with a New Moon in Leo. The energies of it build up as the Moon increases its light and are strongest in the days before and after. However, it will still be a part of the backdrop over the following two weeks.

Full Moon’s are a period in which we feel a push-pull between two opposing signs, in this case being the Sun in Leo and Moon in Aquarius. It can reflect either a conflict or integration of both signs. We can feel this opposition happening individually within us and/or we can also experience it play out around us with some people (or circumstances) expressing the Leo side and others expressing the Aquarius side.

Leo is associated with self-expression, creativity, love, affection, children, courage, vitality, passion, leadership, generosity, and playfulness. Ruled by the Sun, it is also about shining in our power and being in alignment with what really lights us up and gets us excited.

The negative expressions of Leo can be egotistical, self-absorbed, authoritarian, dramatic, stubborn, jealous, and hot-tempered.  As it is associated with seeking praise and attention, it can be demanding of respect and be too loud and boisterous without considering or caring about how others respond to that.

The best way to approach Leo energy in a positive way is to be in our authentic and heart centred version of ourselves; whether it be in our creations, how we perform, or how we express other Leo traits previously mentioned. When we do this, we are more likely to receive a supportive response from those on the receiving end.

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Aquarius is associated with friends, social networks, the group, the team, humanity, and being in the best interest of the collective. Associated with Uranus, it can be unconventional, idealistic, innovative, original, inventive, technological, reforming, and even revolutionary. It tries to figure out how to do things in a better way and takes the future into consideration. Although it is idealistic, it still applies itself intellectually and rationally yet can also be theoretical at times.

Negatively, Aquarius can be overly detached, aloof, unemotional, and very invested in the mind at the expense of the heart. Traditionally ruled by Saturn, it can also be unyielding when it comes to the ideas and perspectives that it has already decided on.

Aquarius is also associated with science which negatively is reflected by Saturn as it is limited to the material world, yet reflected positively by the innovativeness of Uranus. Furthermore, other Uranian expressions of Aquarius can be of a higher level of consciousness which can go beyond the limitations of only observing the physical aspects of reality, and integrating the spiritual as well.

Both Leo and Aquarius have some similarities. They are ‘Fixed’ signs and therefore can both be determined yet stubborn. They are also both associated with originality and authenticity. In Aquarius, this comes from its unconventional and innovative Uranian attributes while in Leo it comes from being inspired by its heart centred self-expression.

Full Moon Opposing Venus Superior Conjunction In a Quincunx With Pluto

At the time of this Full Moon, Venus is closely aligned with the Sun in Leo from our Earth-based perspective which is known as its ‘Superior Conjunction’ lasting from August 10th-17th. This is when the Earth and Venus are on opposite sides of the Sun.

This is a period in which we may experience important developments connected to Venus ruled areas (love, relationships, friendships, values, finances, worth, creativity, aesthetics). This is sort of like the beginning of a new Venus cycle in which it will be travelling ahead of the Sun until Spring 2020.

However, another way to look at it is that this period can bring more clarity and forward momentum around things connected to what was going on in the Fall of 2018 and building up since then. Venus last joined the Sun from our vantage point in late October when it was retrograde in its ‘Inferior Conjunction’. This was when the Earth and Venus were on the same side of the Sun. .

At that time something may have been seeded or we could have been doing something that may have had a direct or indirect connection to how things are playing out at this point. It can be associated with Venus ruled areas but it could also have something to do with other aspects of your life, triggered by its previous retrograde last Fall.

Due to the Full Moon being in an opposition with this conjunction, it’s also possible that the push-pull energy of the Leo-Aquarius polarity (mentioned above) can have something to do with Venus themes of values, love, relationships, friendships, finances, worth, self-worth, creativity, or aesthetics.

The Sun/Venus conjunction is in a quincunx aspect with Pluto in Capricorn. This can bring in frustrations and/or needed adjustments connected to fears, power, control issues, obsessions, hidden matters, shadow qualities, repressed feelings, sex, desires, structures, and ambitions to any developments connected to the Superior Conjunction of Venus. For many people, this may also be associated with the themes of last Lunar Eclipse.

Mercury Trine Chiron and Square Uranus

Less than seven hours before this Full Moon, Mercury (which has returned to Leo) ended its post shadow period of its previous retrograde that occurred throughout July. In the last few weeks things may have started to flow more smoothly and we could have experienced some resolutions and clarity around any challenges or issues that came up in the month prior. We may feel things moving forward and could also experience further developments related to this in early September.

During this Full Moon and in the day following, Mercury is in a trine with Chiron and square with Uranus, which has recently begun its retrograde. Our thoughts, communications, or other developments can be healing, holistic, spiritually oriented, unconventional, unique, awakening, and insightful. We can be more inventive, tap into new and original ideas, or bridge different things that don’t normally come together.

This energy can also be a bit unstable, impulsive, or we can be mentally scattered depending on how we apply ourselves. We can experience disruptions, surprises, changes in our plans and routines, or a disconnect in communications. Considering that Uranus is nearly stopped in the sky as it begins its retrograde, its energies are amplified right now. This can also reflect more extreme manifestations of its energy such as rebellion, separation, or even accidents in rare cases.

Mercury Trine Jupiter, Venus Conjunct Mars While Moving Towards Trine With Uranus

From August 20th-21st, Mercury will be in a trine with Jupiter in Sagittarius which has recently ended its retrograde and  is now moving forward. This can be good for learning, expansive communications or thoughts, travel plans, positive thinking, and optimism. We may want to seek the big picture, beliefs, perspectives, and meaning. For some people this can be lucky and there is a higher probability that things going on at this time can go very well.

Venus joins Mars from August 23rd-25th. This can be great for romantic, social, or creative activities. It can stimulate passion and sexuality. We may seek pleasure at this time yet we can also be impulsive about it. It can be good for anything that involves female and male energy coming together. Considering that this conjunction is occurring in Virgo, it can also be good for any type of actions or work that involve beautifying anything or even cleaning and organizing.

Both of these planets are also moving towards a trine with Uranus which is strongest over the following week. Venus makes its contact with it from August 25th to 26th which can bring an exciting, surprising, or stimulating energy around our relations and finances.

It can also be be good to participate in something fun that is different or new to us. For some people it can reflect creative undertakings especially if it involves technology. Making aesthetic changes in some way can also be ideal as well.

Mars’ trine with Uranus is strongest from August 27th-29th. This is good for any sort of actions that are unusual, experimental, liberating, progressive, technological, or independent. We may want to do something that involves making positive change.

Things To Consider At This Time

What has come up for you in the last week around values, relationships, love, friendships, finances, pleasures, creativity, worth, or aesthetics? How should you proceed forward based on these developments or realizations?

How can you balance your personal passions with the needs of the collective? How can you resolve any conflicts between leadership and a team or group? Are you experiencing any challenges or conflict between your heart and intellect? What is your gut telling you? What signs are you getting from the Universe?

What can you do to be more innovative, original, or progressive? What areas of your life are calling for growth, expansion, exploration, meaning, or better understanding? Is there anything that you feel you should be doing to help you feel more free?

Do you have fears, repressed/deep feelings, shadow qualities, or obsessions that are creating obstacles or complications? If so, how should you handle it? Do you need to release or unravel anything to help you feel better, heal, or bring more joy into your life?

These are just some examples of themes that could come up during this period; however, there may be other variations of this energy playing out as well.  If you wish to do any sort of intentional release connected to what has come up at this Full Moon, it is best to do so anytime after the peak of the Full Moon when it begins to wane until the next New Moon in two weeks. The exact moment of this Full Moon is on August 15th at 12:29pm Universal Time. You can click here to so what that is in your time zone.

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Looking for astrological insight into what is going on in your life? Or perhaps looking to better understand your life and its potentials? Get a personalized astrology reading with Carmen (author of this article) specific to you based on your exact birth date, time, and location. Click here for more information or to order. 

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Consciousness

Tips For Those Who Have Trouble Meditating & How To Overcome Them

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I’m willing to bet that meditation is not a new concept to you.

With one of the latest rough estimates gauging that anywhere between 200 to 500 million people meditate with regularity globally, there is a pretty good chance you’ve either tried it at some point or at least have been encouraged to — especially if you decided to read this article.

And while there are plenty of people who swear by its power, myself included at times, I’m convinced that there are plenty more of us who just don’t get what all the hype is about. While I don’t personally believe that we all need to become meditation aficionados, I wanted to create a resource for those of you who have interest in jumping on the bandwagon but always seem to hit a roadblock.

I’ve nailed down 4 of the most common reasons why so many of us struggle to meditate and how we can change that. Watch it or read it, the choice is yours!

1. Preconceived Belief That Meditation Is Boring

Compared to the sights and sounds of ordinary conscious life, meditation certainly can be substantially less sensorially stimulating — especially at first. But that’s part of the point! One of meditation’s greatest potential powers is its ability to bring us into the present moment without any glaring distractions, a reality that many of us haven’t experienced in years.

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So if you’re part of the crowd that keeps putting meditation off because you think it’ll be too boring, I challenge you to ask yourself: is boredom really the issue? Or am I instead either so addicted to stimulation or even worse afraid to be alone with my thoughts?

Solution: Involve others! Either set up a challenge with your friends to add an element of competition and accountability to it, or meditate with a group in a public space. It’s amazing how much less intimidating being alone with your thoughts can be if you’re not the only one intending to do it.

2. Crazy Expectations

If I were to ask you to create a mental image representative of the word meditation, what would come to mind? I’m willing to bet that at least one (if not several) of the following elements would come up: the sunrise, a sunset, a monk, mountains, or someone sitting cross-legged with great posture.

While these visuals certainly are accurate depictions of meditation, they don’t account for the vast majority of the 200 to 500 million of us that are practicing it regularly. Meditation can be done at any time of day, in a countless number of settings, on a comfy chair, and sitting or laying quite normally. So rather than setting these unrealistic expectations of what meditation is supposed to be like, why not just try making it your own?

Solution: Remind yourself that we are all human. Even those who claim to have attained the most profound insight while meditating have had just as many random thoughts pop into their head, so you’re not broken and just as capable.

3. Shear Impatience

We live in a world where a substantial number of us are not only used to but fully expect things instantaneously. We’re run by instant gratification, and when something fails to provide that, we’re quick to lose interest and ultimately our patience.

If you want to meditate regularly but patience is an issue for you, I’ve got some bad news: meditation will never satisfy your need for instant results. But meditation is also one of the best tools for developing a state of mind that won’t be so hungry for them!

Solution: Start by “forcing” yourself to practice patience through a reward and/or punishment system. Establish something that you are going to reward yourself with for meditating 7, 14, or 21 days in a row. Or even better, set up a punishment (ex. donating $100 to a cause you don’t believe in) for not sticking to your goal.

4. Overreacting To Thoughts

One second you’re focusing on your breath, and before you know it several minutes have gone by and your mind has drifted through a random string of thoughts you never thought imaginable. As I mentioned above, this is far more normal than you may think!

The part we need to focus on is how we choose to react to noticing that our mind has drifted off rather than the fact that it has.

There is a substantial difference between allowing yourself to get pissed off while believing that the entire meditation is ruined, and just noting that you’ve drifted, and bringing yourself back to your initial intention.

Solution: I’ve highlighted the word noting above because I believe it’s one of the best solutions for this issue. When you realize that your mind has drifted, choose to make a calm mental note that it has happened and then bring yourself back either by re-focusing your attention on your breath or by doing a numeric countdown (anything with a meditative purpose that your mind can easily focus on).


Ready to change your life today? Get my FREE eBook on 5 Quick Daily Hacks for a GENUINELY Happier Life sent straight to your inbox within 48 hours by signing up here. And for more brutally honest personal development content designed for those who actually want to change, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel and to follow me on Facebook.

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