Recently I saw the opera Othello in the beautiful Plaza de España and I felt inspired to write the following concerning the difference between love and fear. I have seen opera once before in my life and this was the confirmation that I am not the opera type. It was good. By all means the acting and voices were amazing but my bum was numb after the first act, my leg started to twitch in the second and I was reminded again why I am such a bad movie date. But I digress.
I am currently living the philosophy (among others) that there are two motivating factors in life: Love and Fear. Everything else is just a shade and coloring of these two.
The question I now ask myself every day and with every decision I make, is which of these are driving my life decisions and actions. To help with this, it is important to know the difference between love and possession. Often times the two get confused thanks to a cultural education that paints obsessive and co-dependent relations as the idealized definition of love.
For example, Othello, a great and admired warrior and captain, lost it all because he allowed it to be planted into his head that Desmonde, his beloved and new wife, had a pre-wedding fling with his right hand man Cassidy. Jealousy consumed and eventually killed him and his innocent wife. It goes without saying that this whole story reeks of issues of domestic violence and abuse, but again, what is abuse but the lack of love? Othello confused his love for Desmonde with possession.
If he had truly loved her as a human being and not some entity to be possessed, than the jealousy never would have taken root, for jealousy is just the fear of losing someone or something to another.
Love is never lost and therefore can never be jealous.
I would venture to say that the desire to possess another is rooted in the fear of being alone. This is why so many unhealthy relationships continue on without ending or resolving. There is a fear of being alone of losing the other to another and this fear attracts more of the same fear. The result is a combination of repulsion and attraction and a relationship that appears to be somewhat scizophrenic. It is a vicious cycle that repeats itself again and again because energy moves in a circle and is never linear.The circular movement of energy is basic physics (and I am no Einstein…but this I understand). Sooner or later it comes back to the one sending it out.
The ideal of love might be what drives people to seek out relationships but often it is the emotion of fear that controls the dance. It can be fear that begins the relationship (fear of being alone) and it can be fear that terminates a relationship. For example, when a disagreement or miscommunication arises and ends a relationship. This often happens simply because somewhere in the midst of that argument the possession of some form of identity is being threatened and becomes more important than love and connection.
i.e….¨Oh it hurt your feelings that I didn´t call you when you returned home from two months abroad? Well…that is just the way I am. I like my space.´
´Just the way I am´ is a cop out for identifying with and possessing a particular behavior, and refusing to analyze it objectively when confronted about it´s negative effects. That fear kills the opportunity to heal and communicate. (In the same breath, the one hearing this reply is somehow sending out the energy required to recieve it…but that is a different post)
Biologically, fear is destructive because it creates tunnel vision whereas love allows for a universal perspective. There is a reason why Yogic Philosophy discusses cultivating a sense of universal love and calm amidst apparent stressful and hateful situations. It is the emotion of love that creates the calm corporeal reactions necessary for a much wider and all inclusive view. A wider view equates to more information and greater understanding. This greater understanding often dispels fear increases love and encourages one to understand and connect more rather than withdraw or fight, which of course, in that desire for connection and communication, increases even more the experience of love.
Do you see how that feedback loop works?
Fear creates more fear by biologically creating less vision and perspective. This then limits our ability to choose. Limiting options creates more fear as we see our escape options dwindling.
Love is the opposite. Biologically when love is felt, the ability to take in more information increases. Increasing perspective allows one to see situations and relations from many different perspectives. Multiple perspectives increase ones choice and control over any given situation.
We have a choice. We can choose positive feedback loops or negative ones.
How do we know when we are falling into a negative vs. positive feedback loop?
It is really quite simple, check your vitals. Do you feel calm and content or do you feel anxious and distracted? Scan your body. Your body is always speaking to you and helping you to understand where you are emotionally so you can take action to further the emotion or neutralize it. Your emotions are not you, but they are communicating to you via breath, heartbeat and muscle tone.
This is what Yoga teaches.
Be the observer so that you can control the observed.
Every pose is a mini laboratory helping us to notice the sensations of fear and the sensations of love. All of this is done by observing alignment of the bone, the tone of the muscle and the rhythm of the breath. As we progress in our practice those skills of observation can be taken off the mat and into real life.
Applied in real life we can take what we learn on the mat and notice how something as simple as correcting your posture in a meeting makes you feel more awake and maybe even more confident. In an argument you start to notice a clenched jaw and by the mere release of it, you find yourself relaxing into the argument and finding a solution rather than leaning into it with two upraised fists ready to defend an identity that is nothing more than a bunch of fleeting experiences and social conditioning. Noticing your breath as you stand up to speak or perform in front of others helps you to bring it under control and dissipate the fear that otherwise might twist your tongue and cause your words to stutter over each other.
Love is not such a difficult concept to grasp and is even less difficult to feel. Love is universal and always there waiting for us to stop, breathe and observe its existence. She is the most beautiful creature in the universe that is never possessed but always exists in you, in me and every being. Her universal existence and the observation of it leaves no room for fear and its fellow colors of possession and jealousy.
Yoga helps us to feel and to understand exactly which of these two concepts are driving our behaviors and it isn´t so hard to know. It just takes a moment, a breath, a simple space of observation to know which emotion is taking control. With that same moment, that same breath and space of observation we are then able to choose the current and end result (remember that feedback loop).
I decide. You decide. We each decide with each observed breath which experience we want coming back to us- Love or Fear.