An Excerpt from The Forgotten Art of Love
Who better than a cardiologist to unpack the many dimensions of love, the emotion that has long been depicted as emanating from the heart?
A comprehensive, multifaceted exploration into the nature of love is precisely what scientist Dr. Armin A. Zadeh, who is both a cardiologist and a professor at Johns Hopkins University, offers in his new book entitled The Forgotten Art of Love: What Love Means and Why It Matters. We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt from the book.
Can love be learned? In principle, yes, but there are several important requirements. Love necessitates a positive, embracing view of ourselves and of life. Fromm claimed that only a person who has reached developmental maturity is truly capable of loving. Such maturity implies self-acceptance and overcoming narcissism. Love requires humility. We are not truly concerned with the happiness and well-being of somebody else if we perceive ourselves as superior. Finally, love requires awareness and sensitivity to recognize the needs of the beloved for attaining well-being and happiness.
Like mastering any art, learning to love takes concentration, discipline, and patience. The principle of the art of love is actually quite easy: all we need to do is avoid egotistic impulses and remain focused on loving thoughts and activities. We should view ourselves not as separate from others but rather as part of humanity, a part of life.
In practice, maintaining a constant focus on love is exceedingly difficult. Try it for five minutes and see. For just five minutes, monitor the thoughts or impulses that arise in your mind. Try to keep your focus on somebody or something you love. What has your partner or child done today? Is there something you can do to make their day a little better? What do they like? Have you said something nice to them lately?
Whenever your thoughts stray away from your focus on loving, notice it. Did you think about the football game later today? The errands you have to run? Your job? Going out with friends? Assess whether your thoughts are self-serving or loving, that is, directed at the well-being and happiness of somebody else.
You will probably find that it is very hard to maintain this focus even for this short time. When we realize that mastering the art of loving requires maintaining a focus on love for every waking minute of our day, it becomes very clear what kind of challenge it is.
The practice of rejecting egotistic impulses in favor of loving is known to be effective for attaining happiness. Some devout followers of religions that teach similar precepts have achieved a state of deep contentment. In other words, if we manage to maintain control of our self-serving impulses and concentrate on love, we will achieve happiness. Guaranteed.
Think about this for a moment. There is a proven, guaranteed way to attain lasting happiness. Something anybody can achieve. No tricks. Why isn’t everybody lining up for this? Because the process is hard. All major successes in life are earned the hard way.
We have a choice. At any given time, we can set our priorities. We can spend most of our lives focusing on our job to achieve what society defines as success, and maybe we will find some satisfaction. Maybe. Or we can spend our time developing our focus on love, and we will surely attain happiness. Seems like an easy choice. It also means that anybody truly wanting to achieve happiness can do so. We just have to put the effort into it.
Contentment results from the way our mind processes thoughts, actions, and events. The same event may elicit very different responses in people. For example, let’s imagine two drivers getting rear-ended in their cars. One jumps out screaming in anger over his damaged property, while the other expresses gratitude that nobody got hurt. A missed putt on a golf course may appear to one person as a personal failure, while another laughs about it as bad luck. We can perceive the same events, and our whole lives, as wonderful or dreadful — it’s our choice. If we want to perceive it as wonderful, however, we may need to work at it.
Armin A. Zadeh, MD, PhD, is the author of The Forgotten Art of Love. He is a professor at Johns Hopkins University with doctoral degrees in medicine and philosophy as well as a master’s degree in public health. As a cardiologist and a scientist, Dr. Zadeh knows, from first-hand experience, about the close relationship between heart disease and the state of the mind. Visit him online at www.theforgottenartoflove.com.
Excerpted from the book The Forgotten Art of Love: What Love Means and Why It Matters. Copyright ©2017 by Armin A. Zadeh. Printed with permission from New World Library.
"Life happens. Life in the flow."
We learn over time that nobody can solve our problems, but someone can guide you how to solve the problem. You may receive guidance through a teacher, a guru or even strangers that you run into every day. As we practice yoga we learn that the more we know, the less we truly know. Every day I am reminded how much I truly do not know; a very humbling experience.
Yoga teaches me to be present. To just live for being and enjoying life as it is right NOW. Not ten minutes from now, no five days ago, but right now. We are taught to get out of our heads, to release worries and fears of the past or the future and to only live for this very moment. Presence.
"Lead me from untruth to truth, lead me from darkness to light." ~ Buddha
Through yoga we are reminded that we do have a dark side as well as a light side. We are not to repress the dark side, but embrace that side of our Self. We are the yin and the yang. We ultimately cleanse the dark stuff we hold inside. We shine the light on this. We must make friends with dark side. Both positive and negative balance out the whole. Daily practice refines and improves our inner vision to see our Self more clearly. We no longer need to run from fears. Face them and say I'm not running from you anymore. So much is in our heads, so much dark is only in our heads, self-doubt judgment betrayal. Yoga grounds the body so that the light and dark sides of ourselves become clear. So much is truly untrue. But as we diligently practice we are able to find the middle ground and walk our centered balanced line in life. We gain balance in centered lightheartedness. We can have harmony in both light and dark.
"Yoga tells us that the world is actually a projection of our own thoughts and we can modify our inner world to manifest into our outer world. When our inside realm is at peace and in harmony, our outer world shines this projection back at us." ~ David, Jiva Mukti Yoga co-founder
Yoga is observation.
We can observe our world and see what part that is in us is begin reflected back to us. We can then see what part of us needs modification or adjustment in order to have our outer reality reflect back to us the peace, happiness and love we so greatly desire and deserve.
Yoga is already inside of you. Happiness is there. Yoga helps you peel away the onion layers to get to the core. To freedom. The deepest Divine connection to the Ultimate Light Source.
Come out of wanting and back into acceptance and Joy. A yogi or yogini can turn any situation into bliss. That is a yogi. Yoga is being now. Ultimate yoga is meditation. Just BE.
Yoga is love.
"Love is the light that dissolves all walls between souls." ~ Paramahansa Yogananda
Through a dedicated practice of all forms of yoga we can participate in the world with a sense of freedom, unaffected from trauma, depression, anger, etc. The freedom is balance in both.
Maggie Anderson is a Yoga & Spiritual Teacher, Reiki Master Teacher, Integrated Energy Therapy® Master Instructor, Soul Coach®, Past Life Coach, Magnified Healing® Master Teacher and Angelights Messenger. She is the author of How I Found My True Inner Peace and Divine Embrace. You can contact Maggie at SpiritualCompassConnection.com.
"Follow Your Bliss. It's Your Spiritual Compass."