Having been hugely cynical in my former (yoga) life, and one of those sarcastic, defensive and so-called witty people, ready with a quick retort and a sly comment, I changed into someone who could not be around that kind of energy, that darkness. Through my path with yoga and consequently some of the truly transformational and positive people I met, I found a sensitive side to me that had not been encouraged when I was growing up. As the youngest in the family, I had to push forward and speak up and try to be clever; to be heard. Well, that is how I thought it should be. After several years of practicing yoga and then being transported to the other side of the world to study it in depth on my teacher training in Australia, I really had entered into another world. I was with positive speaking people. People who were encouraging and nurturing and would not tolerate "can't do" statements or "I am rubbish" utterings. I had to sign a contract that actually stated we would be asked to leave if we were highly critical or others and of ourselves. It was a new language to learn. Not one that insisted I wasn't quite good enough, but one that insisted I was. I was better than I thought and whatever level I was at, was my level and should not be judged.
Love was all around me. I eventually saw it in the firm teachings from my teacher who gradually broke down my ego until I could accept the teachings she presented to me. I saw it in the hippy, almost throw-back to the 70's community in which I lived whilst training. I saw it in the encouraging new friends I found on the course. I guess what I am saying, is that once I chose to feel love, only then could I feel it and see it. I felt I was around shiny people, who encouraged each other and supported and smiled and laughed and were not serious even though they didn't drink or take drugs or eat meat or do conventional "fun" things. It was a wonderful and life changing experience. One I will always treasure and be grateful for. After this, I found it difficult to return to the UK and my rather staid and lonely life. I had changed and therefore needed to change my circumstances.
Visiting and then moving to Ibiza, it was easy to feel like I could fit in. Bohemian communities sprout up in pockets around the island and I eased myself into teaching work and friendships with some of the people I met. It was easy to feel love in a sunny place, teaching yoga to some enchanting people and hanging out on beaches with other yogis and healers. Everyone seemed so genuine. After a while I did not want to be anywhere else.
Yet there is another part to this island that can tap into my latent cynicism that has been snoozing for a while. The word "Love" is spread around a lot. And this is what I mean. The WORD "love". I hear this spoken by many people to visitors to this island as almost a commodity. In fact, in some places and to some people, it appears that this is what is has become. It can appear to be a selling point rather than a deep emotional state of being. I hear yoga teachers, therapists, writers and dj's and event organisers bandy the word about - telling us we should feel love. We should be love. We should have love. And if you don't have it, that's ok because we can sell you love. Tourists and residents alike can buy 2ft letters spelling L.O.V.E, stickers with love on, songs with love in, t-shirts, bags, jewellery and postcards spell out the word. Come to this dance and dance the word. Come to this casa and chant the word. Come to this fashion show and wear the word. Come to this retreat - you lonely souls - and find it on your yoga mat. Take this therapist and she will take €100 off you to tell you why you don't have it in your life.
You see the problem is not that all of these healers, teachers, speakers and experts aim to provide people with a direct pathway to love. I see no harm in perhaps training someone to be able to feel love who has been closed off in some way, or suffered through life to the point of not being able to access it. I am not that cynical in the end. My problem is that the soul is missing. I can almost see a heart being given to someone, and then behind them their money taken out of their pockets. I hear the word said a lot. But I don't often feel it. I see the € signs pop up in front or their eyes. They may not even be aware of it, but there it is. Perhaps I am missing something. I have been to yoga classes and told to "feel the love" by someone in a floaty outfit prancing around with flapping arms a glazed expression...and then I don't. And I can only imagine how dispirited this can make anyone feel who is already feeling a lack of love. Because of course, if you are being told to feel it and you don't then there must be something wrong with you right?
This is why for me, love is not something you can sell someone. It is not something you can even give someone. It is only something you can remind someone is already there. I see it or experience it in fleeting moments in someone's eyes at the end of a yoga class - not because I told them to feel it, but because for a few seconds in awareness and presence they found it themselves in the silence. I feel it in my meditation in those tiny glimpses when I am not aware of time. Or I witness it in special moments when I see 2 people come together who have a special bond and I see the exchange of love between their eyes. But this is my experience of love. You may feel it differently and at different times and with different people. Its personal and should leave you feeling warm, not bereft and empty and soulless. It should bring a smile to your lips and a tear to your eye. Don't try to buy love, it can't be bought. Don't be sold love, it can't be sold. Maybe sit in silence for a few minutes a day and dive deep into the chasm of your soul once the mind chatter has stopped, and there you will find a small bird perched in your chest singing. Witness that and smile in gratitude. You found it.