February is the month of LOVE. It is a wonderful intention to call attention and honor love even if it entails a lot of bad chocolate and obligatory effort. What is fascinating to me about LOVE is its diversity of meaning across the diversity of humanity. In the absence of any conformity it is universally longed for, even by those who reject it most. So what is it? This word we use so casually with little concept of actualizing its breadth. Is it a feeling, a belief, an action, a state of being. Perhaps something infused in all of the above. Is hate really the opposite of love or the just the absence of it? According to the writers, musicians and artists, love is the original drug that leads us to exalted states of ecstasy when we access it and drives us to the depths of despair when we don’t. So many actions, feelings and beliefs depend on the presence of love in us. Our sense of charity, generosity, compassion, and forgiveness to name a few. Why is understanding love important anyway? I believe love heals in the way hate harms. Love is a quality revealed in us. It begins with the unveiling of our sense of self-love. From this embodied love we extend our love to those in our inner sanctum and gradually to the outer reaches of all that surrounds us. Love mutually embodied in the collective is peace. Understanding what love is, its essence, the nature of how it works is to understand something fundamental to the healing process. One of the most misunderstood aspects of the love is the perception that it is acceptable to sacrifice our personal well being in the name of love. Love does not entail us sacrificing, compromising, or making a momentary exception to any part of our physical being, personal welfare, security or needs. Self-sacrifice is not love. It is a bypass, perhaps the most treacherous bypass we can fall victim to. This is the friction. Where the rubber meets the road. We might feel love for someone but then act out in a way that is unloving. At the same time, our love for another can’t make up for their own lack of self-love. These are just a two examples where we confuse the growing edge of love as a scarcity of love. Growing love is about cultivating capacity not quantity. Love includes. Love is an “and”, not an “either”/ “or”. The capacity to embody what is hard for us to include, what we instinctually reject is how love heals. When I stop hating what hurts, stop trying to get rid of it and move towards making space for it and embracing it in me is the moment I embark on a game changer. The power to include with love is how transformation happens. Its not enough to think I love, or feel I love. Learning to love, to really love without reservation, exception, or threat of annihilation is to embody love in our actions, feeling, beliefs, and essence. The unanimous coherence of love in the four essential aspects of our being is actualized love. This is the love we universally desire.