The 5 Secrets of True Love: Are You Ready to Learn Them?

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I have been counseling men and women for the last 44 years. There are many concerns people bring, but most of them are related to their desire to have a relationship where they can feel loved and where they can share their love. As someone who has been married three times (third time was definitely the charm for Carlin and me), Im always looking for ways to improve our relationship and share our insights with others. Heres what Im learning these days.Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk and internationally known author, poet, scholar, and peace activist who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King Jr. Ive always appreciated his perspectives on meditation and life. When I recently found a small volume titled True Love: A Practice for Awakening the Heart, I was sure Id uncovered a gem. His words, thoughts, and feelings have enriched my understanding and practice of love. There are five simple practices that we can all put into effect if we want more love in our lives.

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D Sharon Pruitt, Creative Commons

The 5 Secrets of True Love: Are You Ready to Learn Them?By Jed Diamond, Ph.D Contact: Jed@MenAlive.com www.MenAlive.comI have been counseling men and women for the last 44 years. There are many concerns people bring, but most of them are related to their desire to have a relationship where they can feel loved and where they can share their love. As someone who has been married three times (third time was definitely the charm for Carlin and me), Im always looking for ways to improve our relationship and share our insights with others. Heres what Im learning these days. Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk and internationally known author, poet, scholar, and peace activist who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King Jr. Ive always appreciated his perspectives on meditation and life. When I recently found a small volume titled True Love: A Practice for Awakening the Heart, I was sure Id uncovered a gem. His words, thoughts, and feelings have enriched my understanding and practice of love. There are five simple practices that we can all put into effect if we want more love in our lives. 1. Make time for love. This may seem obvious, but in our busy, fast-paced lives, love often gets short-changed. Hanh asks us, Do you have enough time to love? Can you make sure that in your everyday life you make the time that is needed to share your love? We do not have much time together, he reminds us. We are too busy. In the morning while eating breakfast, we do not look at the person we love, we do not have enough time for it. We eat very quickly while thinking about other things, and sometimes we even hold a newspaper that hides the face of the person we love. In the evening when we come home, we are too tired to be able to look at the person we love. We get lost in the T.V. or in other activities. We must make time for love. We must bring about a revolution, says Hanh, in our way of living our everyday lives, because our happiness, our very lives, depends upon it. 2. Be there for the one you love. Hahn asks us, if we are not there, how can we love? To be there for someone we love means we must first be present to ourselves. We must take a deep breath and be here in the moment. We must let our thoughts and worries of the past and the future be stilled. We breathe and we are here. Hanh suggests a simple practice of mindful breathing. BreathingI know that I am breaking in; breathingI know that I am breathing out. If we do this simple practice with a little concentration, he reminds us, we can begin to still our restless minds and be present to ourselves and the person we love.

Once we are present, we can recite a simple mantra. Dear one, I am here for you. Try it today. Youll be surprised at how good you feel and how wonderful the person you care about will feel. Dear one, I am here for you. 3. Recognize the presence of the other. The greatest gift we can give or receive is to totally recognize and appreciate the being of another. I remember having a friend in college. Her name was Jeannie and she had an incredible ability to make a person feel like they were special. Whenever you saw Jeannie, she always made you feel that you were wonderful. Being in her presence made you feel like you were loved, not because you did anything. She just loved you because you were you. Hanh says to love is to be; to be loved is to be recognized by the other. If you love someone and you continue to ignore his or her presence, this is not true love. How many times has your loved one come into the room, but you were too busy to fully acknowledge them? Hanh says, perhaps your intention is not to ignore this person, but the way you act, look and speak does not manifest the desire to recognize the presence of the other. Appreciate the person you love several times a day. Someday they wont be there. Live every day as if you would never see the person you loved again. Try this mantra. Dear one, I know that you are there and it makes me very happy. Hanh reminds us, this is real meditation. In this meditation, all at once there is love, compassion, joy, and freedomthe four constituents of the true love of which the Buddha speaks. Dear one, I know that you are there and it makes me very happy. 4. Reach out to your loved one when they are suffering. It is not easy being alive on the planet these days. We are living in difficult times. There is much stress and suffering. We are often tuned out to the suffering of the person we love the most. When you are living mindfully, Hahn says, you know what is happening around you. You are attuned to the suffering of your loved one in the same way a mother or father is attuned to the suffering of their child. When you are tuned in with your partner, you know when they are in pain. You can be there for them. Your presence can mean more than any gift imaginable. Say this mantra. Dear one, I know that you are suffering, that is why I am here for you. When we are suffering, more than anything else we need to feel the presence of the person we love. They dont have to do anything or fix anything. They just have to recognize our suffering and be there for us. Dear one, I know that you are suffering and that is why I am here for you.

5. Let go of your pride. This is the most difficult thing to do for most of us. We often feel hurt ourselves and out of pride we refuse to tell the other person that we are suffering. We begin to feel cut off and alone and we become resentful that our partner doesnt see our hurt and come to our aid. Many times I have felt, Why should I reach out for Carlin. Im the one who is hurt. She should reach out to me. Too many times, Ive gone to bed feeling lonely and sad because my pride kept me from reaching out. Our feelings of being wronged can cause us to withdraw. Our withdrawal can be seen by our partner as an indication that we dont care about them. They then become angry or withdraw themselves. Too many times, couples begin a downward spiral of hurt and betrayal until the relationship falls apart under the weight of pain and suffering. Dont let this happen to you. Let go of your pride. Try this mantra. Dear one, I am suffering so much, help me please. Dont suffer in silence. Let your partner know of your pain. Reach out. This always reminds me of the lines from the song Desperado by the Eagles, You better let somebody love you. You better let somebody love you. You better let somebody love you.before its too late. Five simple practices offered by Thich Nhat Hanh. I offer them to you. Try one. Try them all. Tell me what works for you. Are there any practices that youd like to add to the list?

Jed Diamond, Ph.D Contact: Jed@MenAlive.com www.MenAlive.com