Love of self, love of neighbors, and love of God are the foundational stones of the world's religions. Spiraling out from the core of our being, our other loves are also cobblestones on the spiritual path: love of family, of partner, of friends, of community, of animals, of nature, of country, of things, of hobbies, of work. Love is not something that you just fall into, as the romantic songs suggest. Love is a spiritual practice. You can get better at it over time.
Begin by recognizing that you can't love others until you truly love yourself body, mind, and soul. As you move through a day, be aware of love's expressions emerging from you or coming toward you attraction, focus, absorption, desire, adoration, security, trust, empathy, caring, harmony, contentment, communion. Practice extending the reach of these feelings. It is through loving that we experience the love of God.
Why This Practice May Be For You
Fear always trips us up on the spiritual path, and it surfaces most often around the practice of love. We are afraid to love and worry that nobody will love us back. We are apprehensive about the quality of our love relationships: are they strong enough, good enough, durable enough? Whereas we don't usually question the quality of our acts of kindness, say, we put performance measurements on our loving.
Love and intimacy go together, but if we have been disappointed by love, we worry that intimacy is beyond our reach. We fear that we have lost the ability to feel love, or that we are just not loveable, or that we will be hurt again. Sometimes we even fear that love will change us.
Hearing all this fretful thinking, God the Beloved writes one prescription over and over: Fear not! I love you.