What is Unconditional Love?

ūüíē¬†Happy¬†Self-Love Day¬†ūüíē

This morning of pre-Valetnine’s Day, I got very honest with¬†myself about how I slip and forget to love myself. I felt as if there was¬†something off,¬†something missing, I¬†didn’t feel fully alive.

After I tuned into and listened to myself, I¬†had¬†this¬†realization¬†of¬†how¬†easily¬†I¬†slip¬†into forgetting¬†myself,¬†forgetting¬†to¬†prioritize¬†me,¬†my¬†pleasure,¬†my¬†creativity¬†and¬†start¬†believing the¬†old¬†lie¬†that¬†it’s¬†a¬†luxury¬†to¬†pamper¬†myself¬†like¬†the¬†Goddess that I am. When I became honest with myself, I felt sad and disappointed¬†– the truth came out that I¬†betrayed¬†my soul again for the illusion of “success” and “productivity”.

I am¬†proud for¬†showing up fully for my¬†clients, for giving myself 100% to all¬†of my projects, programs that I run, to¬†my students and my yogic studies. And it’s so easy to¬†slip¬†and forget the most important one who I get to spend the rest of my life with and get to know¬†in the most deep and intimate of ways – me, all of me, my¬†emotions, my dreams, my personality, my wounds, my joy¬†and aliveness, my infinite soul that has a mission in this life.

When I pause and see this truth clearly, I sit in contemplation about what loving myself unconditionally truly means.

ūüí쬆What does it look and feel like when you love yourself unconditionally? ūüíě

The truth of why we forget to love ourselves unconditionally is because we learned early in our childhood that love needs to be earned and that we need to be deserving of love. This is conditional love and it is not the real love.

So, today after I had this honest conversation with myself, I gave myself permission to bask in self-care doing nothing in particular and letting myself have space to let my feelings guide me. I took a walk and listened to the birds, prepared myself a ceremonial cacao drink, lit a candle, rolled on the massage balls, meditated and connected with two dear friends on Zoom and took a hike with my dogs and husband in the snow.

I talk¬†to a lot of¬†clients who have a similar challenge of leaving themselves behind as they prioritize their “successes” and in the end feel empty¬†and¬†disconnected. So, I want to offer you an “Exploring Love¬†Exercise” as a gift for this Valentine’s day to support you in deepening your¬†love for yourself¬†followed by a “Heart-Opening Meditation” that I will publish tomorrow.

This exercise will increase your awareness about yourself.  This increased awareness has a potential to bring healing shift to your relationship with yourself and others. Warning: It might not feel pleasant to look at what you discover, but I invite you to be courageous, honest and vulnerable with yourself. Healing and shifts are only available when you let yourself see the truth.

‚̧ԳŹ Step 1: Write your definition of LOVE in your journal _______________________________________________________________

ūüíĒ Step 2:¬†Understanding¬†Conditional Love. Take a look at the list and make a note of how you have experienced conditional love. Have you¬†experienced¬†someone (perhaps yourself)¬†telling you directly or¬†indirectly something like this:

I will only love you if…

  • You change
    • your looks
    • your actions/behavior
    • your weight/clothing
  • You do things my way
  • You make me feel good/important
  • You produce
    • income
    • children
    • status
  • You perform to my expectations
    • work/job
    • grades
    • athletics
  • Create an ideal image to the¬†outside¬†world
    • wife/husband
    • daughter/son
    • parents/in-laws
    • boss
    • successful, creative,¬†beautiful person

ūüíĚ Step 3 Remember an¬†experience where you felt love, for yourself or for another. Contemplate and journal with the¬†following¬†questions.

How do you experience love?

ūüĆü¬†How does love feel like?

ūüĆü¬†What physical sensations accompany your experience of love?

ūüĆü¬†What emotions accompany your¬†experience of love?

ūüĆü¬†What¬†thoughts, ideas, or beliefs comprise your¬†experience of love?

ūüíü Step 4 Understanding Pure and Distorted love. Love is experienced and expressed in ways that are pure, as well as in ways that are distorted by our unmet needs. Rate each word using the following guidelines.

1 РI never experience or express this quality.
2 РI rarely experience or express this quality
3 РI sometimes experience or express this quality
4 РI often experience or express this quality
5 РI always experience or express this quality

Pure Love
_____ Acceptance
_____ Compassion
_____ Cooperation
_____ Inclusiveness
_____ Openness
_____ Receptivity
_____ Respect
_____ Sensitivity to others
_____ Trust
_____ Union/Unity

And Now Explore how often you have these experiences:

Distorted Love
_____ Attachment
_____ Conformity
_____ Dependence
_____ Exclusiveness
_____ Fear of rejection
_____ Jealousy
_____ Neediness
_____ Possessiveness
_____ Self-centeredness

ūüí쬆What did you feel as you were working on this list?

ūüí쬆What are you feeling now?

Unconditional LOVE is loving yourself and others for who they really are. The truth is that this unconditional love for others is only possible when we learn to accept and love ourselves unconditionally.

ūüß° Step 5 Get clear about how you experience love and with whom.

1. Make a list of people that you love conditionally.

2. Make a list of people that you love unconditionally.

3. Make a list of the ways you conditionally and unconditionally love yourself.

In the next blog post, I will share with you a powerful “Heart-Opening¬†meditation”. The reason why I created it is because it is the state of your open heart that allows for you to¬†experience¬†unconditional love. The heart has¬†ability to open and close. When you feel heavy or restricted or tight in your chest – that’s when your heart is closed. When you feel expansive,¬†light, luminous in your chest¬†– that’s when your heart center is open.

The beauty about¬†your heart is that it can be taught to remain open with more and more people and circumstances¬†and this changes¬†everything. The¬†reason your heart might have closed is that it’s the way that you protected yourself from being hurt in the past.

When your heart is open, life becomes a magical¬†journey and that doesn’t mean that you won’t feel pain or¬†disappointment. But you will also have¬†access to more joy and bliss in your life and¬†no longer fear your feelings and won’t have this¬†need to be perfect to deserve love. Life becomes easier and ohhhh so¬†much more satisfying when your heart is open.

Share in the comment below: what awareness did you gain from doing this exercise?

About Yulia Azriel

Yulia "Punita" Azriel, M.S., E-RYT-500, inspires her students and clients to trust their bodies, relax deeply and connect with their innate vitality, wisdom and joy. Yulia is a certified Yoga Teacher in Posture of Consciousness & Meditation in Motion, Advanced Yoga Nidra facilitator, Yoga Therapy practitioner in Amrit Method of Body Psychology, as well as Reiki healer.

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