I woke up this beautiful morning and the moment consciousness set in, the song “There’s No Fear in Love” began singing in my head.  I was flooded with genuine and abundant gratitude. I can honestly say this feeling washes over me pretty much every morning upon waking; however, on this morning it occurred to me that until this year, I didn’t know what it truly meant to love someone, ANYONE, unconditionally. To love with no fear, no expectations, no need for the relationship or the person to look or be anything other than exactly what it is; I never knew bliss like this until this year, and my goodness, is it glorious!

As human beings with egos that wish to control all aspects of life in order to keep us safe from pain, we often feel the need to define and compartmentalize our relationships and the love we feel in them.  We say things like, “I love this person like a brother” or “I love this person like a mother” or “I love this person like a lover”.  The truth is, by doing this, we create divisions and in the end cause ourselves even greater pain.  What if instead of needing to label and individualize our love we just expanded our hearts to the point that ALL love could just love like LOVE?!  What if no matter who you were looking at, your heart just overflowed with love and gratitude for that person? Whether it was your father, your boss, or the homeless man on the corner; what if you could just love them all equally and without expectation, fear or conditions?  How would your life change if this was how you lived every moment?

Now, you’re probably thinking, “Ash, what you’re suggesting is impossible…Nobody can live in that state all the time in this world…”.   Ok, to that I say, what if we all tried?  If for even just a moment everyone made a little effort to just love everyone as if their entire existence depended on it, that moment of unconditional loving would cause an overwhelming desire to feel that ALL the time!  It’s infectious and changes the way we think, speak, feel, and act! This isn’t just “woo woo” nonsense. I’m speaking from experience!  This is what Jesus meant when he said, “Love your neighbor as yourself”.  Imagine this world if we all made such an effort to expand our hearts without restrictions?  The glorious expansion; can you picture this in your mind?  Please, just close your eyes just for a moment, and imagine a world in which everyone lived with unconditional love in their hearts.

It is possible to attain that world.  But where do we begin?  Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” In Ancient Egypt (664 BC-323 BC) it was said “That which you hate to be done to you, do not do to another.”  “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself”-Confucius.  The ancient epic Mahabharata of India states, “Treat others as you treat yourself.”  Muhammad declared “Wish for your brother, what you wish for yourself.” All ancient religions voice the Golden Rule, but how can we live in line with it?  There’s a secret to unconditional love, and it’s really no secret at all.  First and foremost, we must learn to love ourselves.  You have to know what it feels like to love yourself before you can TRULY love another.  Without self-love, true love cannot grow.  Self-love is the seed that grows into the Tree of Life which branches out into endless unconditional love if cultivated in the soil of positive intention.  So for the coming new year, I invite you to plant the seed of self-love, and all day, every day, I invite you to nurture and infuse the soil of your seed with positive thoughts, intentions, and aspirations.  If you do this, I promise you, your tree of life will flourish and blossom day after day, season after season, year after year, and your life will be more fulfilling and whole than you could have ever imagined.