Anyone in an intimate relationship has undoubtedly explored the question of what love is. As a word it is overused with meanings ranging from the deeply spiritual to the mundane and everything in between.
In our workshops we use a few different ways to explore the topic and one of them is what we call the Five Elements of Love. It is an adaptation of the Buddhist teachings on love: Loving-Kindness, Compassion, Joy and Equanimity.
While we don’t claim ours is better (I mean, how could we?!!!), we have found it easily accessible and people we work with enjoy the clarity it brings. Here they are:
I am here with you and I am happy
I see you here with me and I am happy
Presence is the foundation of love and connection with self and your partner and is about bringing yourself fully into the now and fully with your partner.
Full focus. Full attention. Full presence.
I speak and act with care and consideration towards you
Kindness is about thinking about your partner and taking care of the impact when you are speaking to him/her or about him/her.
Avoid hurtful words. Avoid hurtful actions.
I want you to minimise your suffering.
When you suffer, I suffer.
We are connected
Compassion is about wanting your partner not to suffer and when they are, seeking to relieve their suffering.
Listen with empathy. Soothe with actions.
I laugh with you
You laugh with me
Joy can be measured by how much we laugh and smile when we are together. It is about celebrating being alive.
Laugh. Laugh. And smile.
I am me.
You are you.
I am happy
Freedom is about not trying to shape your partner into being more like you and recognising that every aspect of your differences makes you richer.
Notice differences. Celebrate.
How to bring more of these qualities
We invite people to assess where they are by asking them to imagine a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is their dream, their vision of what this quality looks like when fully manifested in their relationship.
Then we ask the following questions for each of the Five Elements.
- When you stand on 10, what do you notice? When this element is fully present in your relationship, how does it show up?
- What position on the scale represents where your relationship is now? Whatever the position, what is already present that makes it this number? (Focus on what is there, not what is missing)
- What could you do (very specifically) in the next few days, to take a small step towards 10 and bring a little more of this element into your relationship?