3 Kinds of Love

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

Rumi

This past Saturday I had the challenge and pleasure of offering the first of a series of Asana (posture) focused workshops this year. We couldn't fit all 108 postures in 2 1/2 hours so, I offered the last eight poses the next day in my Sunday Flow class. It was a wonderful synergy. A participant who attended both came up to me after the Sunday class to share how much she appreciated the practices. Already I feel an improvement in my Asana teaching because of the workshop. The materials and methods I've prepared for it help me focus and expand my knowledge. It's true that love exists deep in ourselves. Yoga has been instrumental in revealing its depth. Without my offering and the participants' attendance there would be no revelation of love in this particular synergy. The workshop I taught last Saturday was 108 Asanas for Love: A Hatha Yoga Practice. We practiced to open up ourselves to the three aspects of love -- self love, practical love, and selfless love. It was my way of sowing the seed of love between winter and spring to cerebrate life around St. Valentine's Day.

Hatha means a force or an effort (to balance and stabilize the dualistic nature of the body and mind that is always in fluctuation). Through the practice of Hatha yoga one gains better understanding and greater ease of movement in the physical, emotional, and mental experiences. I broke the workshop down into three segments. Part one was about integration--allowing oneself to be loved with stability and ease. It is equivalent to the Ancient Greek's concept of Philautia: self love, self compassion and self acceptance. I've seen over the years how yoga attendees got injured and quitted yoga. They hadn't yet revealed in their body and mind the capacity to let themselves be taken care of by the solid earth and its gravity which provides the skill for surrendering and relaxation. Beyond the physical yoga we can let Philautia guides the heart and mind toward connectedness--allowing the people, things and relationships in our lives to support and ground us in the daily living. Aging and injuries naturally take us to Philautia but let's not wait too long to reveal this first kind of love. It's freely given and completely essential.

The second part of the workshop focused on the power of transformation. Self love has two prongs. One is to let others love us and the other is to actively love ourselves. Pragma isn't a narcissistic indulgence. It is the kind of love that requires disciplines and strength which leads to endurance and longevity. Showing up for what make life worthy of love is practical. It builds grit and stamina. I'm scared shitless of teaching and being in front of a crowd. Every time I try to teach in a new way or offer a new workshop I work myself into a ball of motivation to make it happen. Pragma requires patience, compromise and gradual effort. Each time I teach I expand the comfort zone and get a tiny bit over the fear of sharing my unqualified knowledge. The beauty of guiding others to their own feelings and wisdom is it helps me get in touch with mine. I'm fully committed to this process because my life depends on it. Pragma makes you say no to the things you don't need now in order to get the things you need long-term. If you have a hard time saying no you also have a hard time cultivating Pragma love. It transforms your weakness into strength and carelessness into enduring relationships.

The third and last segment of the workshop was on freedom--allowing love to be loved with creativity and joy. Agape is the Ancient Greek's concept of selfless love. It's unconditional and infinitely empathetic. It's the love that embraces, forgives, and is faithful to love itself no matter how it is created and manifested. Metta or loving kindness is indiscriminating in its compassion. Agape is possible as long as Pragma and Philautia are here to support it. In the Vedic numerology 108 is a sacred number of unity. There are 3 kinds of love because there are 3 aspects of self. Here are how the three are represented in numerology.

  • 1 represents the male aspect and symbolizes the sovereign being (waking or physical state)
  • 0 represents the female aspect and symbolizes the circle of life that is emptiness (dreaming or psychological state)
  • 8 represents infinity and symbolizes the eternal spirit (deep sleep or undivided consciousness)

108 is reduced to 9 (1+8) which symbolizes unconditional love. Because of the three conditions we find ourselves living and breathing at once as someone, nobody, and everything.  The three aspects of love connect to the three conditions. Let us reveal for ourselves and each other the ways in which the light of life shines its radiant love in compassion, service, and joy.