As we gathered around in a circle in our living room, my brother courageously began the sharing. He started with a spontaneous, heartfelt message to my dad. As my brother’s words filled the room, all of our eyes began to water. The words he spoke were true and deeply felt among my entire family. It was the first time that it had been spoken heart-fully out loud. “Dad, I love you and am so grateful for all that you have done for me. Thank you for blessing my life and being the best father I could ever ask for.” The circle continued as my family all took turns loving on each other with words of affirmation. It was a circle of giving and receiving; a moment in my life that I will hold dear, forever.
Over the past decade, it seems that our world has dramatically sped up. Technology has made it very convenient to send a quick text message or email in passing to stay connected to one another. Many of us find ourselves living in a world that is driven to do more, be more, and get more. It is much more efficient to Facetime with each other than to take the time to meet in person and have an actual human interaction.We are bombarded by distractions and pressures to keep up with the new, faster-paced societal norms.
Many families may live under the same roof, but barely get the chance to connect with one another in a meaningful way. Dinner conversations are interrupted by phones buzzing and appointments that have to be met. Somewhere along the way it seems the opportunity to heart-fully connect with one another in a deep and meaningful way has become less of a priority and more challenging to consciously integrate into our lives. In a world that can be challenging to navigate and prioritize what is most important to us, how do we carve out space to be present with eachother?
The answer to this question was recently given to me as I found myself in conversation with my friend,Dave. To preface, Dave is one of the most positive people I know. He is one of those people that lights up a room whenever he walks in. His mindset tends to be one of positivity and innovative brilliance. I asked Dave how he was planning to spend his upcoming weekend. He proceeded to tell me that he was getting together with his family to “love on” his uncle. At first, I found myself confused by his response. Upon further discussion, I came to discover that in his family, there was a common tradition of getting together and taking turns loving on each other. This involves everything from taking the time to positively acknowledge each other to sharing a meal in honor of someone’s birthday or accomplishment in the family. Upon hearing about the practice of“love on” from Dave, I was immediately inspired to integrate this practice intomy own family’s tradition.
As the holidays came around, my mother asked for suggestions on how we should spend time together as a family. I made the suggestion that we gather together and take turns honouring and acknowledging each other in a “love on circle.” At first, I recall my idea was met with some hesitation but upon further discussion, my family agreed to try this practice of “love on.” What resulted from this new practice were collective feelings of joy, harmony, connection and deeper meaning. To have a forum to acknowledge and be acknowledged by those closest tome was one of the best gifts I had ever given and received.
In my experience, I have come to find that the foundation of a mindfulness practice is to remember that all things are connected in this present moment. Although on the surface level it may appear that we are all quite separate as we travel through our daily lives, practices such as “love on” helps us recall the truth. No matter how separate we may appear to be in this physical world, our essential nature stems from one source. The same source that ensures the trees grow, the sun rises,and the seasons change.
When we slow down and consciously take the time to connect with each other, we get an opportunity to mindfully connect to the deeper truth of who we are. T.S. Elliot wrote, “We shall not cease from exploration, and in the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” Connection is our inherent nature.
The day my family gathered together and took the time to consciously love on each other was a transformational experience. As we prepare for the holidays and are up against the rush and pressure to complete all your to-do lists, let’s take a few moments to integrate a “love on” practice into our life. It has become apparent to me that one of the best gifts we can give ourselves and others during this holiday season is that of love and connection. May we find inner peace and harmony with those in our community through this new practice of loving on each other.
Keith Macpherson isa speaker, coach, musician, and yoga instructor. He’s also the author of the new book, Making Sense of Mindfulness. His popular keynotes and workshops along with his live yoga classes are often packed with hundreds of people and downloaded thousands of times online. Keith has spent over twenty years touring globally as a speaker and professional musician. Find him at www.keithmacpherson.ca.