Opening Our Heart To Compassion – Navigating Love, Self-Love, And Empathy (2024)

Written by: Silvana Avram, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Opening Our Heart To Compassion – Navigating Love, Self-Love, And Empathy (1)

“All we need is Love!” But what does Love mean to you? And how can we bring more love into our world?

Opening Our Heart To Compassion – Navigating Love, Self-Love, And Empathy (2)

“One word frees us of all the weight and pain in life. That word is love.” Sophocles

What is love?

This question may be as old as time, but what is youranswer?

What does love mean to you?

I’m inviting you to reflect on this question because I believe that our world needs a little bit more love right now. I am sure you agree.

So, where do we start? Even with the best intentions, it is not always easy to find the right way to contribute more love.

Perhaps you feel that the word “love” is overused? I tend to agree. And we are not alone:

“Love is a word that is overused these days, due to other lesser feelings often being mistaken for it. Infatuation, admiration, and attraction can pose as love, and can sometimes overwhelm us and fool us into thinking that we have found the real thing when we haven't. Those other feelings may be pleasant for a time, but they are not real love. Real love is rare. It's something that, quite honestly, I believe very few people ever truly experience.” ―Marian Vere,Once Upon A Second Chance

Perhaps you have your own definition of love, and that is enough to guide you through life.

Perhaps for you there is no need for any definition.

And yet, it is important, as individuals and as society, to revisit the question about the meaning and importance of love, so we can all speak the same language, so we can open our heart to love, so we can give and receive more love.

The subject is vast, of course. In this article I’m simply inviting you to first look at some definitions of love…before exploring two of the aspects of love that I consider fundamental if we want to contribute more love to our world, and to write a better story, as humanity.

What is love?

The eternal quest for the meaning of Love has been beautifully captured in various forms of wisdom:

All religions have love as their core message:

“The one who loves all intensely begins perceiving in all living beings a part of himself. He becomes a lover of all, a part and parcel of the Universal Joy. He flows with the stream of happiness, and is enriched by each soul.” - Yajur Veda

"Love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18).

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

"You will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another." Sahih Muslim

The ancient Greeks identified four types of love, each with its unique qualities: 'Agape' unconditional and divine love; 'Eros' passionate and desirous; 'Philia' a love based on mutual respect and shared values; and 'Storge' familial love, the bond between kin.

In modern times, C.S. Lewis categorized love into Affection, Friendship, Eros, and Charity (Agape). Psychologist Robert Sternberg proposed a triangular theory, outlining the components of intimacy, passion, and commitment in different combinations to form various types of love. Erich Fromm, a psychologist, and philosopher who wrote extensively on the subject, described love as an art demanding knowledge and effort, in his book "The Art of Loving”.

Innumerable artists have tried to capture the essence of love in their work.

“Love is an ever-fixèd markThat looks on tempests and is never shaken;” – William Shakespeare.Sonnet 116

“Love recognizes no barriers.It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope," Dr. Maya Angelou

And yet, this ineffable force that has fascinated philosophers, poets, scientists, and spiritual leaders across the ages continues to defy precise definition and categorization.

Love is as vast and diverse as the universe itself, intertwining with every interaction, every connection, and every moment of existence.

In the words of Rumi "Love is the bridge between you and everything."

It is, ultimately, in our heart that each one of us have our own, unique experience of Love.

And that is why I urge you to go inward and listen to your heart.

What does your heart say about love? How does love make you feel?

How can you expand this experience of love, so you can share more with the world?

Take some time to think about this, there is no rush.

Write your thoughts down on paper, share your reflections with someone you trust…You will be stronger and freer once you have found your own definition of love, I promise.

And when you think you know what love is, ask yourself this:

Are you ready to fully and unashamedly love yourself?

I believe that in order to bring more love into our world, we must first learn to love ourselves. And once we learn to love ourselves, we can open our heart to everyone else – to the whole of humanity.

In this month of heightened discussions on love, at a time when our world is clearly suffering, it is more than ever important to explore these two aspects less talked about, but pivotal for a brighter future for humanity: Self-Love and Compassion. These two aspects are intertwined. To love others, we must first be able to love ourselves. And to love ourselves, we must learn to love our humanity.

Self-love – the basis of all true love

"To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness." Robert Morley

"Self-love is the source of all our other loves." Pierre Corneille

Self-love serves as our connection to humanity, opening our hearts to embrace life in all its expressions. It forms the foundation upon which all other forms of love flourish. Without it, we are like ships adrift at sea, tossed about by external validations. But with it, we become the captains of our souls, anchored in the deep waters of self-acceptance and self-respect.

It's crucial to recognize that self-love isn't about narcissism or self-absorption. Instead, it is acknowledging our inherent worth, treating ourselves with kindness and compassion, setting boundaries, and prioritizing our well-being.

As the Buddha wisely said, "You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection."

Let us shower ourselves with the love we readily give to others, for in loving ourselves, we enhance our capacity to love the world.

And if self-love is an aspect you are less comfortable with, let Rumi's words guide you: "Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."

Take a moment to reflect on this.

How do you practice self-love in your daily life?

Decide today to be a bit kinder to yourself, to give yourself credit for who you are, for who you are becoming. Remind yourself that you are a unique being, with a valuable contribution to life and to humanity.

If you need a bit of help with this, you may want to read my book "Being You and Loving You – the Ultimate Guide to Fulfilment”. It will take you on a deeply transformative, and liberating journey of self-discovery. You will be surprised to realise just how powerful, abundant, and creative you are, and how nurturing yourself and co-creating your life with joy can transform your reality. You will also discover how embracing your purpose and falling in love with your life opens the doors to lasting happiness, and how sharing your unique gifts in service to humanity will bring you the deepest form of fulfilment.

As a Coach, I know no greater joy than to help those who work with me learn to truly love themselves, acknowledge their uniqueness and fully appreciate their valuable contribution, to find lasting fulfilment.

Now that you have contemplated self-love, it is time to go a step further:

Are you ready to open your heart to the whole of humanity?

Empathy – Compassion as the highest form of love

"Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own." Robert A. Heinlein

Compassion, the most sublime form of love, transcends the boundaries of the self, embracing all beings in its warm, tender hold. It is the ability to feel another's pain as if it were your own, coupled with the desire to alleviate that suffering. Compassion recognizes our shared humanity and vulnerability, understanding that we are all waves on the same ocean of existence.

In many spiritual traditions, compassion is seen as the highest expression of love. It calls us to step outside ourselves, connecting with others on a deep, empathetic level, beyond the illusion of separation.

The Dalai Lama beautifully puts it,

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."

By showing compassion to others, we also extend it to ourselves, acknowledging our interconnectedness and interdependence.

Ultimately, self-love and compassion meet in a deep awareness that closely resembles love for life gratitude for being part of life, and acknowledgement of the mystery and sacredness of existence.

In his work "Symposium," Plato suggests that love is a desire for the perpetual possession of the good. Compassion is that connection with the good in us.

To be truly happy and to create a world we feel proud of, we must all learn to cultivate more compassion in our hearts, to let it guide our thoughts, words, and actions.

Let us remember that every act of kindness, no matter how small, is a ripple in the ocean of existence, creating waves of love that touch all beings.

As you explore the path of compassion, consider the insightful resources available at Service Space, an organization dedicated to fostering acts of kindness and compassion in the world, whose motto is “Change yourself, change the world.” I have recently had the joy and privilege of participating in some of the wonderful pods organized by Service Space, and the experience of collective growth and oneness has been palpable, and truly uplifting. It was also during the Interfaith Pod organized by Service Space that I learnt about the transformative practice of CBCT(Cognitively-Based Compassion Training) offered by Emory University, Atlanta, US, to enhance understanding and cultivation of compassion.

Of course, there are many other organizations striving to build a more loving and compassionate world, and many other opportunities and ways in which you can practice compassion. Find the one that best suits you – or find a meditative practice that helps you open your heart a little bit more every day.

Remember that when you do so, you are doing it for yourself and for all of us, you are doing it for humanity. Give yourself credit for it. And let me say a big, warm, and loving Thank You.

"Our task must be to free ourselves by our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty." Albert Einstein

Do you already practice compassion in your daily life? If not, how could you start to do so?

Here is another beautiful quote to help you:

"Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all things." Thomas Merton

I sincerely hope that our brief journey from attempting to define Love, through understanding the importance of Self-love, to opening our heart in Compassion has given you food for thought, inspiration, and a nudge to continue the exploration about the mysterious force of Love even further.

This month, and every month, take some time to celebrate your life, to celebrate those around you, and to celebrate humanity.

After all, love in all its forms is a celebration, isn’t it?

All we need is love

It’s true. We all need love. Our world needs more love.

Love can heal old wounds; love can open hearts and minds. Love can unite us in a common goal, to finally create a kind and inclusive world we are all proud of.

It is possible. We all know what love is, in our hearts. Together, we can inspire each other to open our hearts and manifest a better reality.

Let us start by being kind and loving to ourselves.

Slowly but surely, we will be able to expand loving kindness to everyone else… and, in the process, write a brand-new story:

Humanity A Tale of Love.

“I love the song of the mockingbird, Bird of four hundred voices, I love the color of jade and the intoxicating scent of flowers, But more than all I love my brother, man.”―Nezahualcóyotl

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Read more from Silvana!

Opening Our Heart To Compassion – Navigating Love, Self-Love, And Empathy (3)

Silvana Avram, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Silvana Avram is a successful, Inspirational Life Coach, philosopher, author, teacher, and founder of Life Coaching with Silvana – whose mission is to empower us to embrace our uniqueness, fall in love with life, fulfill our potential and create a beautiful legacy.

Fascinated from a young age by the mystery of life and our place in the universe, Silvana has been on a quest to find her own answers to the big existential questions facing humanity. Now an acclaimed Coach and Author, she draws on her extensive study of Philosophy, Psychology, Meditation, Holistic Healing, and Spirituality to create a uniquely inspirational and empowering style of Coaching – also reflected in her Book “Being You and Loving You” in which she guides us through an unforgettable, transformative journey of self-discovery and self-love.

Convinced that we can overcome the prevalent paradigms of fear and division, Silvana has recently focussed her attention on developing a radically innovative approach, outlined in her upcoming book, “Living in Eternity” – and which has earned her an unexpected nickname: “Miss Eternity”! She argues passionately that, rather than chasing goal after goal and living for tomorrow, we should, instead, live every day, every moment, with the joy, awe, and serenity we experience when we see our lives from the perspective of Eternity. When we choose to live in Eternity, everything falls into place, everything we do takes on a different meaning, and we become aware that, as humanity, we are, in fact, constantly creating our common legacy.

Silvana’s ambition: is to inspire us to write a better story for ourselves – and for humanity – in Eternity!

Opening Our Heart To Compassion – Navigating Love, Self-Love, And Empathy (2024)


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