This the one of the four understanding of Animal Connection and Beyond and this is my understanding of its underlying meaning at this point in my journey.
It sounds simple doesn’t it, love, without condition, or unconditional love?
But what does it mean to you? How does it feel to you? Loving without any expectation of any return, whether that is physical, emotional, or spiritual. To love without wanting love back.
This type of love comes from our ability to feel and acknowledge all our emotions, be with them and know that they are ours and ours alone. We would also be aware of where those feelings sit in our body. To love others, to love everything, without attaching conditions, you have to be emotionally mature enough to love yourself without attaching conditions.
Stand in front of a mirror, look yourself in the eyes and say ‘I love you’ out loud.
What feeling comes up? Acknowledge it. It could be anything. Grief and tears, vulnerability, shame, shyness, anger, blame, happiness, joy. Allow yourself to feel each or all of the emotions that arise.
Come back each day and tell yourself ‘I love you’.
At some point (and don’t rush it because that is just another emotion you are not acknowledging so feel that too), you will suddenly be aware of what this love feels like. You will feel a connection to yourself. It will make you smile and you will see your soul light up in your eyes. You will want to stay there, stay in that moment.
This is the beginning.
To feel deeply connected to the animals in our care, by loving them without condition, we have to know what loving ourselves without condition feels like. This turns into emotional maturity over time, where we are able to have feelings and feel them in totality, feel them in our body and know that is okay. Then we can start to release our domesticated animals from their learned helplessness as we have released ourselves from our learned helplessness. We can enable them to live an emotionally mature life within the bounds of domestication as we have learnt.
Once we understand what it is to allow emotions and feelings to come up, and not subject them to judgement or control, we can find a deeper, more honest connection with ourselves and those around us, whatever species they are.
Wild animals live in a state of emotional maturity. They love unconditionally. They feel every feeling and every emotion and acknowledge that in the moment. They acknowledge the present feeling and act on it.
‘I am hungry so I will eat’
‘I am worried so I will move’
‘I am tired so I will sleep’
‘I am anxious so I will be alert’
‘I am irritated so I will stamp my feet’
‘I am full of energy so I will play’
And these statements tell us how domesticated we as humans have become.
‘It is 1pm so I will eat’
‘It is midnight so I will sleep’
‘I am irritated so I will annoy everybody else’
‘I am full of energy so I will tell everybody how bored I am until somebody does something with me’
‘I am anxious so I will go and hide until somebody helps me’
‘I am worried so I will see if I can find somebody more worried than me, so I can feel better’
The above are a few examples and not detailed, but you probably get the picture. For example if we are fearful, instead of acting on our fear and acknowledging that all others around us are capable of deciding for themselves how to feel and act in their own right, we share our fear and make sure others are more afraid than we are, because that makes us feel less fearful. Weird isn’t it. When a wild animal is fearful it will assess its situation and act. It already knows that those sharing its environment will know how it feels, and that they will act based on their own instincts and intuition. It has no expectations of the others to share its feelings or act with it. It also knows it won’t be judged for its feelings or actions.
What has this all got to do with Unconditional Love? It is about Feeling It All, feeling unconditionally, allowing yourself to feel. To know what we feel and why we are feeling it, and what behaviours those feelings bring out in us, and to know it is okay. What is not okay is when we look for external solutions to our internal needs. We feel lonely so we look for someone to love us. This rarely turns out right. An animal will more often than not walk away from neediness. We feel sorry for ourselves and externalise that by feeling sorry for our animals. By feeling sorry for them we don’t acknowledge our own feelings. We turn it outward so we can feel better. The trouble is that feeling we are sharing around, feeling sorry, creates a form of learned helplessness in our animals.
So, to love without condition is not so much about love as defined by the dictionary, as it is about being responsible for our own feelings/emotions/needs.
When you are wholly responsible for your own feelings and can say ‘I love you’ to yourself, you become connected to yourself. Then you can create the space of invitation to connect from a knowing of Unconditional Love. You can be completely present with another.
If you don’t fully love yourself, unconditionally, you cannot love another being fully and unconditionally, or be loved by another being unconditionally. It is a journey. A journey I am on as much as the next person.
This is an extract from Ren Hurst’s book ‘The Wisdom of Wildness’ about Love:
“True, authentic love is not a feeling or an emotion. Love is an interconnected state of being that feelings and emotions, not just positive ones, move through. It is pure presence – the fully embodied, present awareness that all beings originate from and the thing that connects us all together still. ‘I love you’ translates into ‘I am present with you’. Love is the one, absolute truth – what remains when all story falls away. True love is always irrevocably wild, and the only thing keeping us from living in it is our trauma. We are naturally present to love, just like wild animals, once trauma is addressed and energy can flow freely again.”Ren Hurst
If you would like to learn how to find connection with your animal, by learning how to find your own ‘presence’, where you can share peace of mind with your own animal, where you can learn to acknowledge feelings and emotions in yourself and your animal, join our Explorer Club. Membership is free, and when you feel ready you can upgrade to Learner or Participant and find exercises to help you develop.