The Awakening of Love: A Challenging Experience
We often struggle to connect authentically with our loved ones, even with ourselves. And we may have our doubts, often the result of our past experiences, about the nature of love - platonic, romantic, familial – even within the framework of our close friends and family. So how might it feel to receive unconditional love and support from total strangers?
The Awakening of Love is designed as an introduction to its more intensive, seven-day counterpart the Path of Love, which happens across the world. Over the course of a weekend you are encouraged to face your inner critic, your past, your judgements and preconceptions of others, and your own attributes and skills.
Though meant as a relatively gentle introduction, the Awakening of Love wasn't easy for everyone; it certainly wasn’t for me. But throughout you are expertly guided by a main facilitator, who is in turn supported by a group of staff, all of whom have experienced the Path of Love process and have willingly volunteered their time to support others through it.
Each individual met different challenges. Personally, having to stand and talk about myself on various subjects while others silently ‘witness’ you, offering their presence and nothing more – neither the acknowledging nod of the head nor the interjected word of comfort that we are all accustomed to – was truly difficult. You are also led in various forms of meditation, many of which are grounded in movement. When we took part in an hour-long ‘being’ meditation, where we were encouraged to trust our bodies and move accordingly, while wearing an eye-mask to ensure everyone’s privacy, I all but broke down. One of the support staff came to me, held me, stroked my hair and face. It’s hard to explain the potency of feeling that comes with being looked after like that, so unquestioningly and profoundly, by - essentially - a stranger.
Touch is a integral part of the Awakening of Love and Path of Love process. Many of us are starved of touch in our daily lives, something that becomes increasingly apparent over the course of weekend, as you become more accustomed to and desire more of this new way of being open to receiving touch and kindness.
Silence, also something hard to access in our daily lives, reigns over the breaks during the weekend. This is extremely difficult at first – we aren’t used to sitting with others in this way. Especially given the nature of what is being experienced and expressed over the weekend, it is jarring at first to not be able to reach out to someone you may have seen struggling, to offer words of comfort or indeed not to have your own distress dissipated by someone interrupting your personal inner narrative. Ultimately though, silence becomes precious and offers a good lesson in being with yourself and collecting your own thoughts unimpeded by social interaction. It is, in the end, liberating to just be with others and not explain how you are feeling or be anxious to find the right words to offer someone.
It is a beautiful process. I left feeling reassured, in awe of people and everything they hold within them and have to offer. We all have an abundance of love to give, and we can give it genuinely and authentically, even to those we have just met.