Jenn Bruer

Be IN love, unconditionally

One contributing factor of burnout, I believe, is our armoured hearts. When we block the flow of love, it causes stress. Period.

Love is healing, but on the path to unconditional love, our cultural obsession with lust and being “in love” is one that can paradoxically cut us off from love. Are you cut off from love? 

A WEATHER VANE POINTED RIGHT AT YOU

When you fall in love with someone, that person acts like a weathervane pointing right to the centre of your being, revealing the greatest most profound truth about you; that within you is a deep endless reservoir of love. The problem with this experience is that it can leave you believing that without that person, the love within you, the love that you feel, will disappear. 

In the absence of a weathervane, is there no wind? No weather? The weathervane acts as a mere tool to guide us. When you find yourself no longer “in love” – because the love within has shifted in various directions – the love never disappears, it doesn’t lose strength, it remains unadulterated in its purest form within you, flowing much like wind. Love is ever present, and in perpetual motion. 

When a relationship faces conflict, change, or ending, you may believe that this vibration of love has disappeared, leaving you grasping at possession… I need to have you because without you I will be without love. Embrace the truth that love, while it may shift like the wind, is unwavering in its rootedness within you. The love you felt when you were “in love” was never within that other person, it was always within you. Let go of the attempts to hold it there in some strange stillness, like an awkward fake smile in a still photograph. It’s an illusion to think that love can be held in stillness. You don’t want a photograph of love; you want the movement of love in its glorious natural flow.

LOVE ILLUSIONS

Let go of the illusion that the love you felt was ever them. Besides being false it places undue pressure on your loved one to hold still, while also facing the forward motion of life’s momentum in some phoney love photograph. Love isn’t an Instagram picture with filters and captions; let’s stop treating it like that. 

We have both the capacity and the obligation to spread love wherever and whenever possible. When you fall “in love”, it says far more about you than it ever says about the other person; when you fall in love, you are falling more deeply into yourself, and not, as the fairy tales would suggest, into another person. 

On your love journey, rather than focusing on helping others understand you, try with the same level of exertion to unveil yourself internally, this will bring you closer to yourself, the one person you are here to know. The prize along the way is a self-love that increases in altitude, relative to the height of your search. 

Every relationship and every experience gifts you with a deeper understanding of yourself. 

To love a person does not require their permission to love them, they don’t require your commitment, they don’t require you to assert conditions onto them that reflect social conditioning (e.g., I will love you only if, only when… etc.). 

On the path to embodying true, meaningful, unconditional love, we must not intertwine this healing vibration with possessiveness, ownership and most certainly, not with conditions. Separate your values and needs within relationships, and the love you bring to those relationships. Love just IS, there are no rules. Relationships have rules, actions and behaviours have rules, but love is a rule-free zone. 

Here is an example… if I decide to engage in a friendship with you, there will be rules. Rule number one: you must laugh at all my jokes (ha-ha), if you don’t, I can no longer be your friend, but I can and will still love you regardless of your complete lack of humour. I can still choose not to be your friend, based on my need to have my friends laugh with me (at me?). Actions and conditions, versus the unconditional vibration of love. When you place rules onto the flow of LOVE you begin to build armour. 

CONDITIONAL VS. UNCONDITIONAL

Conditions and boundaries within relationships are good, healthy, and necessary; just make sure that within your heart and mind you are separating the boundaries of a relationship and the boundaries of love. Once you start to play with the boundaries of love, you are building armour around your heart centre, from an energy perspective this can lead to you receiving less love, giving less love, and experiencing the love within you with less potency. An armoured heart will feel unnourished, leading to a fruitless search for external love.

APPOSING AGENDAS OF THE HEART AND MIND

What is the difference between boundaries in relationships versus boundaries of the heart? 

When I love someone, they can say or do something that hurts me, they can act in a way that doesn’t feel loving to me, they can be unappreciative or disrespectful (particularly in a parenting situation), and in that moment, my mind will use emotions like anger or frustration to urge my heart to retreat in its flow of love. This lack of flow hurts me more than it does them, and it puts a strain on the relationship. To cultivate unconditional love in this moment, I can feel my heart responding but encourage my heart centre to remain open and flowing with love, while still responding by establishing a healthy boundary. 

Sometimes the situation can be reversed, and my heart will beam with love and try to discourage my mind from establishing a healthy boundary (just as unhealthy as the reversed). That could look like this, “It’s ok that you are acting hurtful, I love you so much and you are so adorable, so it doesn’t matter”. 

It’s as if the mind and the heart are two separate political parties in office at the same time! (imagine that?) Two different ideas on how to run things, two separate agendas. They are impacting one another, both thinking their way is the best way. 

There is a way to live harmoniously with an open heart-centre, allowing love to flow in and around you while still establishing healthy boundaries within a relationship. Boundaries belong in relationships; boundaries are healthy and well. Just make sure that the love within you in casting out into the world without boundary – I promise it can’t hurt you. 

Cultivating compassion

What does compassion have to do with burnout prevention and recovery? 

Everything. 

Here are some self-compassion highlights

  • Close your eyes and move the awareness from your mind to your heart centre, place your hand over your heart, take a deep breath and inhale compassion (because it’s your intention to do so) and exhale thoughts that no longer serve you. It may help to accompany this practice with these words, “I am inhaling compassion and exhaling thoughts that no longer serve me”.   
  • Shift your thoughts to the present moment. What often holds us back from compassion is our grasping at control and our attachment to a different result. The present moment is all there ever is and all there ever will be. Resist the urge to regret the past OR hold onto the future with an attachment to a potential result and instead, accept that you don’t know what is coming next. Don’t grasp at control, release it.  
  • Practice gratitude. In any given moment, especially in times of internal conflict, find something to be grateful for.  I keep a “score chart” on my phone of all the things I am grateful for, then when I am feeling a need for self-compassion, I can remind myself of the things for which I am grateful! 
  • Surrender to a higher power, whatever higher power means or is to you – have faith that this power has your back. It matters less what you call it, it matters more that you call.   
  • Remind yourself that you are not your excellence nor your accomplishments. You are not your body, you are not your thoughts, you are not your actions, you are SO much greater than those things. Whatever it is that has you lacking in compassion for yourself …forgive.  
  • When you have trouble and you revert to old programming or thoughts to the contrary, find one of these mantras and REPEAT them.  
  1. I am not my thoughts 
  2. I am not my actions 
  3. I am not my excellence 
  4. My greatness is untouched 
  5. The love and light that I am is unwavering 
  6. I wish to see myself the way I am meant to be seen 
  7. I will do better next time, I am learning through my experience 
  8. Extending compassion to others 

Once we’ve perfected self-compassion it’s easier to extend compassion outward into the world. It’s easier to practice compassion for others when they act in ways that we deem as “appropriate” and in keeping with our own expectations. It’s easy to practice compassion for those we love. The real challenge is in extending compassion when our knee-jerk reaction is more on the side of rejection or condemnation.  

Highlights on extending compassion to others  

  • Reject the internal propensity to repeat ideas that blame or condemn, or sound something like this… “They should have known better…” “I can’t believe….”  
  • Stop yourself from the internal analysis to find the other persons ill intentions, and  remind yourself you do now know what is going on for this person and you don’t really know why they acted the way they did- EVEN when you think you have this person and their intentions all figured out.  
  • When someone disappoints, take a deep breath and find a mantra that works- you know it works if the sentence helps to soften your heart centre and bring a momentary feeling of peace:  
  • I can forgive and acknowledge the innate light that exists in this person and still hold this person accountable for their actions (this mantra is especially important for advocates in the community facing such harsh things like systemic racism and other cultural issues that can evoke anger; consider what you stand for and not what you stand against)   
  • They are not their actions, just as I am not my actions 
  • This person’s greatness is untouched 
  • This person has forgotten who they truly are, I can remember for them 
  • I wish to see them the way they are meant to be seen (i.e. outside of their accomplishment or behaviour) 
  • They will do better next time, they are learning through their experience 
  • They aren’t perfect and neither am I 

The path to unconditional love

I want to share with you what has been at the forefront of my journey for some time, the practice of unconditional love. The fact we have yet to perfect something is why we call it a “practice”.

Along my journey to recovery from burnout I have experienced some regressive moments, heart crushing moments that made me want to throw my hands up and say “I give up”. Luckily those were just moments. I think it’s fair to say that for most of us the pandemic has increased these moments, social isolation and all. For me, these moments are usually experienced when I reflect on the ridiculousness we have found ourselves in; the prevailing racism, the political divide, a culture whereby we have stopped listening to one another, the shift of politics into theatrics. When I reflect on how much we have separated ourselves from the earth and how we as a collective, every last one of us, have contributed to the “rape of the earth” with our unrelenting obsession with fossil fuels and our lack of remorse, all in the name of money. We align with science when it suits us and call conspiracy theories when it doesn’t. So much focus on the truth, yet who is determining the truth? In these moments I am left drained and confused, how did we get here and most importantly how the heck do we learn to do better? 

It’s clear we can do better, isn’t it? 

Like all things, I try to make this about ME. No, not in a selfish narcissistic way, but in a way that acknowledges, the only control I ever have is the control over my own mind and by extension my “vibration” and the resulting energy I cast out into the world. 

We can’t control what is happening in the world and we can’t control the behaviours of those around us, but we can and should control how we respond to all of it. By controlling how I respond- my personal goal is to choose unconditional love in all instances, and when I fail to respond in unconditional love, I turn the practice onto myself and extend love and compassion to myself for at least trying. 

It seems clear that the only way out of this mess is to learn how to be unconditionally loving. If I hold a stance of loving unconditionally, and others do the same, maybe enough of us will begin to support laws that reflect less the ego and more the heart center. Various legislation and the distribution of government funds that are centered in love and not greed is surely a step in the right direction. 

But first …love. 

How do we cultivate an unconditional love? I don’t know yet, that’s why it’s a goal of mine, but, I am trying and the following is what I know so far about the practice of unconditional love:

  • In my experience of it, sometimes love is a gift and other times it’s a choice, this practice is about the times when it’s a choice to love 
  • Take it from me, don’t start this practice with politicians, that is for those already at “pro” level *haha*
  • Love is not an action, it’s a stance, it’s a vibration held with intention
  • Actions can be loving, they can reflect love, but an action is not love
  • Being “in” love is just a chemical reaction, that is a whole other discussion- I am not talking about being “in” love with all people (that could get awkward, no?) 
  • Unconditional love has nothing to do with lust- the media’s representation of love has always been falsely defiled by lust. Lust and love are separate don’t assume those two things are connected, these are two separate vibrations.
  • This practice is choosing to see the innate love and light in another human being- outside of and separate from their actions.
  • The intention to hold love in your heart for someone who might have “bad” actions or behaviours is not condoning of their actions
  • Choosing to love someone who’s message or political leanings do not align with our own, does not mean we align with them and their beliefs
  • It is totally safe to extend love to others who believe in a different political party
  • We can love someone and decide not to spend time with them
  • We can love someone and have boundaries about how much time we spend with them
  • It’s always easier to hold love when we understand where a person is coming from. The real challenge is when we can’t understand at all…that’s when unconditional love is most important!
  • We can love someone and forgive someone for any wrong doings and still choose to never spend time with them again
  • Loving unconditionally, starts with first loving ourselves. 
  • We cannot see love and light in another if we aren’t able to see or feel it in ourselves.
  • An awareness of my own love and light always shows up for me in prayer or meditation- prayer and meditation go hand in hand with this practice.
  • Don’t make the mistake of searching for your own love and light in the excellence you have created- IT IS NOT THERE! 
  • This practice must exempt no one, even the person serving coffee at the local cafe is worthy of unconditional love. 
  • When others don’t extend the same practice- Repeat “this person isn’t seeing me as I am meant to be seen” and then continue to love them.
  • If unconditional love feels too daunting, start a little smaller with “compassion”- often the person we are extending the least compassion to…is ourselves. In a world that places more value on excellence and behaviour than the innate goodness that exists in us all, it’s easy to get thrown off course and begin to self-deprecate, to have your mind go on a loop lying to you about how you aren’t good enough. 
  • The voice in your head does not reflect who you really are….ever. The being that is observing that voice is the real you!
  • I heard a joke once and I can’t recall where but it went something like this “I once thought my brain was the smartest of all of my organs and then I realized who was telling me that”- the mind is tricky, don’t believe it. 
  • I try to cultivate this knowing in my children with this analogy; I remind them that if they sat down on a log for the rest of their lives, did or accomplished absolutely nothing from this day forward, they may never experience the joy of “excellence” but their greatness would remain untouched, that is, the love and light of who they really are remains. 
  • To really embody this love for yourself and others, to really drop the “conditions” associated with our love, we must wrap our head around the difference between greatness and excellence. The accomplishments versus the innate love and light that is present in us all. 
  • Be cautious- This life practice isn’t about denial. When someone has acted in a way that isn’t in alignment with the love and light you know exists in them, this isn’t about condoning pour behaviour, this isn’t about being ok with or accepting pour behaviour, this is about illuminating in our mind’s-eye and in our heart’s center- the truth of who and what they are. Holding them to their actions can still be done with love. 
  • When a person leads with pour behaviour it’s because they have forgotten who they really are, that is, they have forgotten the love and light that exists within them, by practicing unconditional love we become the reminder to that person that while they may have forgotten who and what they are, we remember. 
  • Hopefully by seeing the love and light in another, you call if fourth into action– but release any attachment to this, it may or may not be a byproduct of this practice, if it is…celebrate silently.
  • By seeing the light in your fellow human beings, you show them, just with your eyes and heart, that you know who they are. 
  • The only way to cultivate unconditional love is to try, you will stumble (judgement or thoughts that seek to reduce yourself or another to their poor behaviour) keep trying.
  •  Statements that help: “I want to see this person differently” or “I want to see this situation differently” or “I want to see myself as I am meant to be seen” because how we SEE a person or ourselves is merely a choice. 
  • This practice asks me to say and do nothing, it’s about a stance I hold steady to in every day and in every moment I look at or think of another human being. 

A Miracle

Whenever I hold a newborn baby I almost always have the same thought and the same moving response- it starts with a deep breath and ends in the words “what a miracle!”. Likely, I am not alone in this reaction. I wonder why we allow ourselves to lose this natural response when looking at each other? When does a baby stop being a miracle? The truth, as I see it, is that a baby NEVER stops becoming a miracle. You are still that miracle. You could park yourself on a log for the rest of your life and the truth of you being a miracle remains untouched – no matter the excellence you do or do not embody, you are always that miracle.