By Helene Szabados and Heidi Majano
The season of love is upon us, inspiring Peaceful World’s breakfast conversation series of the year with a theme around love and renewal. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, this week’s topic was, “What is love and how can we bring a deeper sense of inner love into our daily lives?” We had familiar faces join us from a few of Presidio’s non-profits; including members of Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute and Tangible Hope Foundation.
We started the conversation with an ice-breaker, “What is a gift that you have received or given that was memorable or meaningful to you?” Through each of the shared experiences, we came to the conclusion that a gift’s sentiment is not always about the gift itself. For example, a gift can be special because of who it came from or the gesture of gift giving can be as special as the gift itself.
After our endearing warm up, we explored our topic; “what is love?” A question as big as this can be intimidating to answer so I opened up the dialogue by sharing the first experience I had with love, which was the unconditional love of my parents. Some of the participants shared their experiences with parental love and how special the love from a parent can be. Heidi brought up the importance of self-love which was followed by the question of how one can begin the practice of self-love. “My perception of self-love”, I responded, “is as if I were dating myself. When I take myself out to lunch I treat myself as though I would treat a significant other; continuously checking in with myself throughout the date. By doing this I build a stronger relationship with myself.”
An aspect of self-love that came up was the concept of setting boundaries for one’s self. Among family and friends, we sometimes feel the pressure to accommodate others before considering ourselves. For example, when we agree to plans with friends, knowing we don’t really want to participate; we feel the pressure to appease our friends before considering ourselves. We discussed the fear that develops when we believe we are letting someone down and how that fear can make a small encounter seem like a big confrontation. We spoke about how practicing empathy can help reduce the fear of letting someone down and allow for mutual understanding.
Other participants brought up the tension that can arise from the expectation of an instant reaction. We talked about how the conversational tool of pausing is not as practiced as it was before the age of social media. We found that social media is a progressive way of communicating, however, it doesn’t leave room to pause and receive information before responding to it. This kind of socializing can create a reactive environment; a place where the practice of listening is less utilized. The power of pausing offers a place for reflection and checking in with oneself.
Our conversation was a wholesome experience; allowing each of us to better understand our own definition of love. We concluded that we bring a deeper sense of inner love into our daily lives when we practice the following:
- Set healthy boundaries for ourselves
- Give ourselves the space to receive the busy world we live in by pausing
- Practice mindful silence throughout our day
- Engage in listening with the people we interact on a daily basis