Welcome to Day Twenty-Four of this series!
It is a delight to introduce you to Jan Lundy.
Here is an excerpt from Jan’s about page:
Since 1994, I’ve been helping people just like you connect with their inner life—their sacred self and the Divine* as they understand it.
I do this professionally as an Interfaith Spiritual Director/Mentor, Educator and Retreat Leader. I’ve also authored five very practical, personal/spiritual growth books on how to live this way—calm, clear, and wise—no matter what is happening in our lives.
This is the way I try live my own life. I’m not perfect, but my highest intention for myself throughout the day is to stay rooted in the awareness of myself as a spiritual being having an oh, so human experience—which, truth be told, can be quite challenging! It’s not easy being human!
I’ve learned that if I can stay attuned to the Sacred in me this way, I will navigate my day with inner calm and clarity, with an open mind and a warm, compassionate heart. And when I am able to do this consistently, everything in my life flows. I am happy, healthy, and glad to be alive.
I believe the same can be true for you!
I met Jan a few years ago when I began blogging stories and reflections about my life as a liveaboard on a sailboat with my two children. Jan’s site was one of the first I subscribed to and I have remained a subscriber since. I was immediately drawn into the way she facilitated the energy within her community – I loved “belonging” and connecting. The material Jan presents affirms my practices and invites a deeper centering into presence.
Jan’s free resources page has many “goodies”; I have read/viewed/listened to several. I love her voice (spoken, written and figurative) and I am so glad to share her message with you!
photo from Jan’s personal connection
Here are Jan’s answers:
1. What is your definition of love?
The presence of the Divine One within us; the One we are commissioned to make manifest in the world through our unique incarnation.
2. What does it feel like when you are connected with love?
I feel deeply grounded and connected to “All That Is.” All That Is, to me, is the “glue” that connects us, one to the other. It is an experience of profound plug-in to the Sacred One present within each of us: the “God” of my understanding that lives and breathes through every single one, without exception; The Sacred, the Holy, the Numinous.
This is characterized in my body as a warm syrupy feeling. My mind is open and receptive. Emotionally, I teeter on the brink of tears knowing how deeply intertwined we are: your triumphs are my triumphs; your sorrows are my sorrows. My heart feels so open and hospitable that if you were standing in front of me I would kiss your lips and throw my arms around you in recognition and welcome. And, if you were in this same place too, we would lose conscious awareness, melting for a moment into the Vastness of Love.
When I am connected with love in this way, you can do no wrong. You are perfect as you are—as am I—because we are soul beings. We forgive and have compassion for one another for the errors we’ve made in this human incarnation because we know, beyond all doubt, that each of us is simply try to get back to God and doing the very best we can.
3. In your opinion, why would one choose to close to love? From that closed space, what is one practice or step a person could take to open to love again?
We only close when we have forgotten who we really are—a soul in human form (“God in skin”), and we’ve allowed the ego to overpower us. The first step in opening to love, therefore, is recognizing that we have been temporarily kidnapped by the ego (that small, wounded part of our self that lives in fear) and turn our attention, instead, in the direction of Love.
We might do this by dropping into our Sacred Breath. The Sacred Breath is a gift of love from the Divine. Accessing it and infusing our self with its loving life force can bring us back to the memory of who we really are to one another. Breath by breath, our memory returns; we feel fear dissipate and love return. Keep your attention focused on your heart center and actually feel it opening and expanding breath by breath.
If this is difficult for us, we might also use a mantra like Ram Dass’, “I am loving awareness.” Or in the style of Thich Nhat Hanh, “Breathing in, I open my heart. Breathing out, I smile.” Or simply saying to yourself, “I am love.”
Personally? Sometimes when I do the aforementioned breathing practice, I envision my heart like a many petalled flower (like a rose or lotus). As I consciously breathe, the petals of the flower gradually open. I visualize it staying open and welcoming in love and sending the fragrance of love out into the world.
4. How do you choose to cultivate love?
Choose, is the pivotal word. What we focus on expands. Practice meditation with love mantras. Read about love. Collect quotes on love. Use loving speech. Choose love again and again. Practice seeing people with loving eyes.
I also ask myself when it comes to various situations (often!), “What would Love do?” Or, “What is the most loving thing I can do right now?” This helps us “choose Love” and stay in alignment with our self as a soul being because the soul is the pure manifestation of love. I try to do this each day. Love is ever a practice because we are in a human incarnation and are always prone to the influence of fear/ego.
If you keep your heart and mindset on love—Big Love, Divine Love—you will continue to move toward it, feel it growing within you, and becoming you. Color your world with love and the hue of you will change to be more lovable and loving. In time, there will be no separation between Love and you. This, I believe, is our ultimate goal on the spiritual path.
5. May you share an experience of receiving unconditional love?
Though I have been blessed with many such experiences in my life, one stands out—with my husband nearly 13 years ago. It was the early days of our relationship, just getting to know each other. We were lying together talking; deeply connected in that moment—body, mind and heart. He turned his head a certain way and looked at me—really looked, deeply, into my eyes, taking in all of me—and said, “You are so beautiful.” I knew in my heart he wasn’t talking about my physical form. I knew he was seeing my soul.
By saying this the way he did, with a look of spacious love in his eyes, he invited me to see myself that way too. Healing tears came and I wept because no one had ever spoken to or seen me in that way before. My previous relationship had been sourced in feelings of never being “enough,” never being the way my partner thought I should be. So to be received and affirmed in this way caused a monumental shift in me. I knew I was unconditionally loved as I was and that I would be forever. I also knew, in that moment, that I was fully capable of living and loving through my soul. This man captured my heart that day and has held it ever since. What Jungian analyst, Clarissa Pinkola Estés, says is true: “A man who truly loves a woman’s soul will possess her heart forever.”
6. What would you like us to know about love?
In the words of two most beloved saints, please remember these thoughts. They sound simple, but they are monumental, and can guide the trajectory of one’s life:
“You are love itself – when you are not afraid.” (Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj)
“You are that which you are seeking.” (St. Francis of Assisi)
May it be so for you!
With Metta (Loving-kindness),
Janice Lynne Lundy is an Interfaith Spiritual Director/Mentor, nationally recognized workshop and retreat leader, and the author of five spiritual growth books, including, Your Truest Self: Embracing the Woman You Are Meant to Be.
For twenty years she’s been guiding people deeper into loving awareness through mindfulness, compassion, and loving-kindness. In 2005, Jan and her husband, Brad, co-authored a book on creating conscious relationship (loving through the spirit rather than through the ego), Perfect Love: How to Find Yours and Make It Last Forever.
You can learn more about it and Jan at her website: www.JanLundy.com.
When you choose to subscribe to Jan’s site, you receive a copy of her free e-book, “Fully Awake: The 12 Essential Practices.”http://www.janlundy.com/newsletter.html#.UwdoI-CI1aE
Jan also created a new website with a new weekly subscription offering of spiritual nourishment, “Creating Spiritual Health.” The website is www.creatingspiritualhealth.com.
Thank you, Jan!
I tear up when I read Jan’s experience of unconditional love. Beautiful!
Dear Reader, Jan shares a breathing practice of dropping into your Sacred Breath and the use of mantras. What is your experience with breathing practices and the use of mantras? Are they familiar to you and if so, may you share your practice with us? (when you share, you inspire)
Thank you for your presence!
Much peace and abundant love,
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