Reading Gabrielle Bernstein’s The Universe Has Your Back on my way to North Carolina for my niece’s wedding last weekend, I had an idea that is changing me completely:
What if I choose love instead of fear as my teacher?
We’re here on earth to learn. We don’t get a choice on the classes (how am I going to overcome THIS challenge?), or the teachers (why is this insane person in my life!?!?), but we do get to choose how to learn and do the work. Choosing to learn from love instead of fear makes all the difference—in the practice room, on stage, or in the living room of life.
When we choose to learn from fear, results are highly limited and the joy factor is slim. You know what it’s like to absorb, think, and process when you are full of fear—no fun at all. But when you realize that you are ready to learn from love, everything changes.
As I’ve written earlier, I chose to learn from fear for much of my life. Fear of tyrannical coaches, mean teachers, merciless conductors. Consistently choosing fear created grooves in my brain that kept me apprehensive, insecure, unworthy and self-doubting.
The box of limitations
When we choose to learn from fear, we focus on lack. We choose to take all the negative comments in our lives and play them back to keep us in our box. How much easier it is to choose not to grow, to stay in a comfortable box of limitations.
For me, my box was big enough to be somewhat successful but small enough to keep me limited. Fear of success, fear of change, fear of growth, fear of being deserving.
So when I began asking myself what would happen if I chose love instead of fear as my teacher, my heart swung wide open and I was flooded with possibility. And I mean flooded. In an instant, I felt goodness swelling up from inside of me, awakened by some divine force that was simply waiting for me to be open to it. I felt ready, energized, eager to try this radical new approach.
An immediate opportunity
Waiting for me at the airport was my older brother by 6 years. Growing up, I was far too young to be a friend to him, but the perfect age to be a classic nuisance. Around him I couldn’t do anything right, nor was I ever truly comfortable. Even with all my work these past 20 years with meditation and self-transformation, the old habits were calling to slip back into deeply ingrained fears and insecurities.
So here was the perfect opportunity. I had my mantra as I walked out of the airport: “I choose to learn from love.” My heart was open and relaxed. For the first time, I no longer felt nervous. I had a feeling that all would be good, but I had no idea what blessings were in store.
What does “learning from love” really mean?
Choosing to learn from love doesn’t mean ignoring our mental faculties such as common sense and subtle discrimination, for clarity of mind is crucial when we work with the heart. Nor does it mean slipping into passive inactivity. Instead, more energy and awareness is needed to stay fully present. But the vibe of the energy certainly changes from that of tense control to that of willing cooperation and enthusiasm.
Learning from love can begin with a simple request: “Help me see this through the lens of love.” When you ask with deep receptivity, your energy changes completely. For me, I feel a huge presence of energy blossoming from my heart, infusing my being with positivity, hope, and strength.
System Requirements: Uprgrade to Heartware v.2 (Open and Uplifted)
Yes, learning from love requires a heart that is ready to open, ready to expand, ready to share. But many of us are stuck with a closed heart that won’t open, like an app or computer that keeps crashing.
We have all shut our heart down from fear, pain, loss, or grief. And to make matters more difficult, we can’t simply revert back to the heart v.1 of our younger selves, because our experiences change us in ways that can’t be supported by previously held perspectives. We have to constantly upgrade our heart. Just like constantly upgrading our tech, we have to reboot with a new “Heartware” that scans for the viruses of fear, insecurity, attachment, and the contractive ego.
This upgrade comes with a huge benefit – when Heartware v.2 is synced with love, the Wi-Fi hotspot it creates is huge and magnetic, powerfully attracting all that is good to us in return, connecting us to a vast source of energy.
The cost of this upgrade is simple, but not easy. We simply have to release all the old patterns that keep our heart focused on the pain, the lack, the fear.
An old pattern worth purging
One old pattern I still needed to let go of was in regard to my mother.
My wonderful mom nurtured me through countless swim meets, cello auditions and rehearsals. As a teenager, I chose to close myself off from her, to turn away from her love in egoic self-reliance. This pattern lasted for decades. This trip gave me an incredible opportunity to reconcile myself with her. I had the opportunity to tell her in person how stupid I was to turn away from her love, and that I’m learning how to accept it again, half a lifetime later.
The wedding was absolutely fantastic
As my mom was escorted down the aisle at the wedding, I played The Swan for her (on a cello from Triangle Strings – highly recommended shop in Raleigh!), returning to her all the love that she has given to me over the decades. I held nothing back. I felt an immediate release and a deep, deep healing within.
Following my mom, my brother and his wife walked down the aisle as I played the Allemande from Bach’s G Major Suite No. 1. Into those genius lines of melody and counterpoint, I was able to further weave all the love I have for him. If I ever there was an opportunity to completely change the vibe of my relationship with him, this was it. I’ve ridden the line of shedding tears while playing a few times in my life, but this was certainly the hardest.
As my brother walked his beautiful firstborn daughter down the aisle to be married, I could only marvel at the beauty of the moment.
My father officiated the service, giving a brief sermon that I couldn’t help feel was also meant for me: choose wisely—choose love.
Far too few of us realize that we have a huge choice of how we live, how we learn, how we work.
But I bet you’re one who already knows. May love be there for you when you are ready.