Welcome to Day Sixteen of this series!
It is a delight to introduce you to Sandra Pawula.
Here is an excerpt from Sandra’s about page:
Discovering An Inner Spring of Happiness and Freedom – Through working with my own life challenges and applying the skillful means and wisdom I’ve learned from my teachers, I’m learning to reconnect with my own inner spring of true happiness and freedom. My wish is to pass on the inspiration, methods, and wisdom that I have received to you so you too can live fully with more confidence and ease. These are simple, universal ideas and methods of benefit and relevance to almost everyone.
I’m not perfect. I’m just like you with both strengths and weakness and my own day-to-day struggles. Trauma has deeply etched unhelpful grooves into my brain and being. I can be fearful, insecure, opinionated, emotional, edgy, and a perfectionist. Yikes!
But I’ve changed and so can you. Close friends say I’ve become lighter, softer, and happier; more joyful, accepting, patient, and heart-felt. I haven’t overcome all my challenges by any means. But, I am moving in a good direction and growing each and every day.
I discovered Sandra’s website a few years ago and instantly adored her message and her writing style. Each article speaks straight to my heart- inspiring, enriching, inviting me to explore new ideas and/or spaces. To me, Sandra is the epitome of grace. She would patiently answer each of my questions until finally I decided to fully explore the energy of grace through personal study. I am so grateful Sandra planted those seeds, which have blossomed in ways far beyond that which I could have imagined for myself.
I have had the pleasure of sharing a rich friendship with Sandra, via email and Skype. I participated in Sandra’s Living with Ease course – because I love her energy and style and message, I know it would be a wonderful experience (it was!). It is an honor to share the gift of friendship with Sandra!
Here are Sandra’s answers:
1. What is your definition of love?
Love is the wish for all beings to have happiness and the causes of happiness. I believe love is an internally generated way of being, does not necessarily depend on others, and can be cultivated through practice.
2. What does it feel like when you are connected with love?
Open, spacious, soft, sad, at home in myself. For me, genuine love contains a tinge of sadness. When your heart is open, you realize most of the suffering people experience is unnecessary. Most of it is mind-made and could be avoided if we learn how to work with our own mind and emotions. So your heart feels tender, but the tenderness is blended with determination and courage because you see the possibility of goodness for all.
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?
There’s a huge number of people, more than 50% who didn’t experience healthy attachment with their parents in their earliest years – from infancy through the first few years of life.
This has a huge impact on the quality of their relationships both as children and as adults, which naturally impacts their ability to express or receive love. When you don’t feel love as a child, you begin to create stories about that. These stories become more and more real to you and can lead you to close off to love.
The story could be feeling unlovable. It could be the need to be perfect or meet other people’s expectations to try to receive love. Whatever our story, there are many different ones, it can block us from opening to love or trigger us to desperately seek love in places where genuine love will not be found.
To heal this wound, we can begin with self-love. We can recall a memory of a moment when we felt genuine love – any memory we might have as short or fleeting as it might be. If not from our parents, it could be the love of a grandparent or a teacher or neighbor who showed kindness towards us as a child or as an adult.
Arouse the memory and let a feeling of love infuse your whole being. Allow yourself to feel you’ve been loved and are worthy of love. When you feel a sense of love in your heart, you can also silently radiate it out to all others and especially to those who are in need of love.
You’ll need to do this regularly. You can’t heal a deep wound like this overnight.
As you gradually open to the feeling of love, pain and sadness may arise too. Let it rise up to be healed in your own love. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself, but keep going. Every moment of love you allow yourself will gradually add up to an ocean of love.
Changing our perspective helps too. We may not have felt loved as a child, but our parents may have been trying to give love in the only way they knew how.
People give love in different ways, for example: giving gifts, sharing quality time, physical affection, in words, or doing things for others. However we felt as a child, as an adult we have a greater capacity to see how our parents may have expressed love in their own way and begin to appreciate that. I know that’s not possible in all situations like when there’s abuse or neglect, but it can help some of us.
4. How do you choose to cultivate love?
Sometimes I do the practice of Loving Kindness, repeating these phrases to and for myself:
May I be well
May I be happy
May I be safe
Then, I use the same phrases sending love to a specific person, silently repeating:
May you be well
May you be happy
May you be safe
At the end of the practice, I repeat the phrases and send love to everyone in the world.
Sometimes, I choose to be around loving people and catch their positive vibes to fan the flames of my own joy.
Sometimes, I remember how loved I am and let that catch fire in my heart.
5. May you share an experience of receiving unconditional love?
I’ve had the good fortune to be around many great spiritual teachers like the Dalai Lama who exude unconditional love. When you are in their presence, you can catch a glimpse of your true nature – beyond all the thoughts and emotions – from which love naturally blooms. There’s no effort required.
6. What would you like us to know about love?
Love is a quality that you can cultivate from within. It doesn’t depend on anyone else or external conditions. The journey to love is a path and you have a choice in each moment. I know it’s not necessarily easy, but you can heal your wounds and choose love.
Sandra Pawula is a writer, teacher, and advocate of mindfulness and ease. She writes about finding true happiness and freedom at Always Well Within. Her signature course, Living with Ease, 30 Days to Less Stress, will be offered again in April.
Sandra’s website: http://alwayswellwithin.com/
Living with Ease, 30 Days to Less Stress http://alwayswellwithin.com/living-with-ease/
Thank you, Sandra!
Dear Reader, I enjoy the Loving Kindness that Sandra shared. What is one way the you choose to cultivate love? (when you share, you inspire)
Thank you for your presence!
Much peace and abundant love,
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