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Love in Action

Face masks drying on wood pole

In case you missed the memo, Summer is full on! I don’t know about you, but this heat drives me to stay indoors, probably more than I “should”.

Shoulds are dangerous territory… I don’t like to spend time there if I can help it. Not because I want to shirk responsibility, but rather shoulds make me think of behavior based on mandatory requirements that may or may not derive from pure, good intention. Remember, I’m all about aligned INTENTION, ATTENTION and ACTION (I call it Transparent Alignment!). I’m just not that interested in action that pretends to be what it isn’t… hence I’m not all that interested in “shoulds”.

The Buddhists (according to Thich Nhat Hanh) define “Right Action” as “anything you can do to lessen suffering in your community and in the world.” That’s what I call aligned action, or Love in Action.

Let me show you what I mean…

In case you can’t see it, this is a dozen masks hand washed in Woolite and hanging to dry over our bathtub to help keep me and our children safe AND comply with community wellness protocols. Maryland is doing well, and yet we are not out of the woods, so perseverance is key!

Indeed my love language, based on the work of Gary Chapman, is Acts of Service but this example goes ABOVE and BEYOND.

My beloved Peter demonstrates love for me, our family, our life and our community in so many ways, from working hard at a job that can be quite frustrating, to managing the groceries and the laundry (for five!) with joy and patience, to obtaining quality and comfortable fitting masks and hand washing them for all of us … And so much more. I am very grateful for all the ways he expresses love for me through acts of service.

Chapman’s research is not only a great tool for understanding our own preferred love language but also helps us understand other ways to put love into action.

The FIVE Love languages include:

1. Words of Affirmation: Using language, verbal (i.e. words) and nonverbal (i.e. tone of voice) to affirm other people. For example, if we want to use language to express love (and respect) we use ENCOURAGING, KIND and HUMBLE words.

2. Quality Time: giving the other person your quality, undivided attention while sharing an experience of value.  This is really a two tiered applcation. Not only does it require attention to the specific activity but also cultivating the skill of paying attention to another.

What does Quality Attention mean:

  • Maintain eye contact
  • Don’t multitask- give your undivided attention
  • Listen for feelings
  • Observe body language
  • Resist interruptions

Determining the shared activity is often even more telling to our intention. Choosing a Quality Activity means:

  • One of you wants to do it
  • One of you is WILLING to do it
  • Both of you know why you are doing it

3. Receiving Gifts: For some people, what makes them feel most loved is to receive a gift. To give a quality gift, consider things that are valued by the recipient, including your attention.

4. Acts of Service: For these people, actions speak louder than words. Doing tasks that reduce the burden of another, especially those that are not their favorite tasks, can be especially powerful in communicating love. We can request things of each other, but if we require or “demand” the act, it stops the flow of love. This is where the Buddhists might caution for attachment to the gift. Also be weary of expecting others to read your mind, or to know what you need. It does not diminish the love act to first ask for what you need.

5. Physical Touch: to this person, nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch. Knowing someone’s love language points the direction of how to express love to that person. In non-sexual relationships touch can often be a difficult terrain to navigate. when in doubt ask, and if you can’t ask, its probably best to NOT touch.

In conclusion, expressing love is a choice. Love is something you do for someone else, not something you do for yourself. But its often a gift that gives back in amazing ways.

I’m on the look-out for Love in Action, in all it’s forms. All month long (July 2020) I’ll be sharing images and stories of Love in Action as a way to celebrate independence from suffering in a time that seems to keep dishing out suffering and sorrow like the Pastor’s wife dishing up potato salad at the end of a mid-west church picnic (that translates to a lot of salad!).

Join me! Make a post on Facebook or Instagram (whichever you frequent) and tag #Lifesworkyoga! Let’s spread LOVE!!!