One day I was practicing a beloved qigong set called "The Eight Flowing Forms" on a mountaintop facing a beautiful vista. As I came to a close, I felt peaceful and fully in the moment, in flow with Nature and within myself.
Just as I completed the set, a praying mantis landed on the center of my chest, right on my heart chakra and gazed up at my face. Then, in the way of praying mantises, it put its two front legs together and began to bow up and down in a short series. It then paused for what felt like a long moment, still gazing up at me before flying away.
This happened several years ago, but the experience was powerful enough that not only do I remember it, I can even feel it in my body to this day.
One of the forms in that Eight Flowing Forms series is called "Opening Heaven’s Gates." I believe that when we are able to suspend—even for a little while—our brain mutter of what’s happened in the past and tripping about what might happen in the future, we tap into the secret to love and joy in the present moment.
The beloved Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh believed that love is not something restricted to the mind; it involves deeply connecting with your body, spirit, and the whole web of life. He said:
“When we learn to calm our minds in order to look deeply at the true nature of things, we can arrive at full understanding, which dissolves every sorrow and anxiety and gives rise to acceptance and love…When mind goes home to the body, the mind and body are established in the here and now.”
Practices like Qigong, intentional mindfulness, meditation, and even those moments of
immersion in a creative or physical activity, can bring you into the quiet of the “here and now.” There’s a sense of reciprocity, an exchange, between you and the world that dissolves separation and division. What’s left is love—love of family connections, animal companions, nature, and love of yourself.
Love is the basis of all that we do and are. We can find it if we’re looking for it. We can look for it by doing those things that will calm our minds and bring our consciousness to the current moment. The more regularly we do those kinds of things, the more we notice the magic around us that we hadn’t seen before; and the more we feel nourished by feelings of lightness and joy.
Where to start? Thich Nhat Hanh suggested, “Breathing in, being aware of your body; breathing out, release all tension in your body. This is an act of love directed toward your body.”
It may sound like a simple first step, but love doesn’t have to be complicated.