elisabeth hahnke coach und trainerin

Love – (this is the manuscript from my talk at Creative Mornings Munich)

Let’s talk about Love. Look at me, look around, look at yourself living your life. Love is what we desire. Love is what we search to…understand, experience, discover, research, give, receive… Love is our possibility, to deeply experience what it means to be human. Love is our only chance to live fully and express who we truly are.

A global conversation about true and radical Love is much needed in these times. We are in the midst of an essential shift. You may not recognize it, watching the news or observing people in the streets of this city. You will miss it, when you stay caught up in your own dramas and fears. You will sleep through it when holding on to being cynical for self-protection. You will only recognize this powerful yet so tender revolution, when you become still and listen. When you look beyond the walls of your own belief systems, you suddenly see it in people’s eyes. We are just at the beginning of a revolution called Love. And your heart already knows it.

All you need is love, all you need is love, All you need is love, love. Love is all you Need.

When I was 14 my music teacher grabbed my chin. He stared into my eyes and one could say that he was not at all amused by my musical performance. “You have the voice of a little girl. You cannot sing!” Tears rushed to my eyes and heat to my head. From this day on I was ashamed of my voice. When I talked to people I didn’t know well, I would speak very quietly. And of course I would not sing anymore, if I didn’t have to. In my school we had to be either in a choir or in the orchestra. I played the piano, so the choir it was. Once a year we had to take a singing test, in front of all the other kids and our teachers. Already days before the event, blood would rush to my face just thinking about it. I was terrified, I felt like a failure, I could not sleep and I deeply wished I would catch a cold! But I had to sing in front of 60 talented kids and 3 music teachers. I was so ashamed, so shy, so quiet and I sung so badly. My beloved grandmother loved to sing. When I went to church with her, she was the one in the crowd that sung her heart out. When everyone else would mumble the words in silent embarrassment, she would sing loudly, off key but passionately. She rarely hit a note. I loved her courage and fierceness but also I guessed that I had her talent for singing, which didn’t make it better. The judgement of my teacher became my own.

When our wonderful daughter Mina arrived in our little family I knew I wanted to overcome my shame of my voice. I wanted to sing for her. So I did. I sung summer songs, Christmas carols, love songs, children songs, all kinds of songs. And I enjoyed it very much. Some nights, when she would not sleep, I sang 2 hours in a row, every lullaby 20, even 30 times… Maybeeee she could not fall asleep because of my singing…?

There are two important points to this story: One, I could heal my shame through Mina’s unconditional love. She just would not judge me. The presence of this grand love is so powerful and healing. And second: I told our 7 year old girl the story of my music teacher and its impact on me. She looked at me bewildered and replied: “Really, mom? That was so silly of you! How could you believe such a stupid comment?” She is pretty wise. One must know one’s true teachers in life. That’s why, in preparation of this talk, I asked her, what she suggests I talk about? She paused and then said: “Tell them, they must love themselves!”

We must understand that Love is not a feeling, not an idea to keep us calm and kind. Love is not sweet. Love is not a construction of the human mind. It is not a clever marketing idea of the advertising industry. Love is not limited or bound to any religion, culture, society or way of life. Love is neither theory nor idealism. Love is who we are. And thus Love is a practice!

Love is the shortcut to everything we desire: safety, respect, grace, appreciation, wonder, freedom, beauty, awe, connection, healing, surrender. Life itself can only be felt through a loving and open mind and heart.

To love means to meet life with courage, to follow your joy and surrender your life to a peaceful and loving world, to realize ones dreams and appreciate the daily life. It is time to wake up and get up from the sleeping state of living a life on autopilot or a life based on fearful thoughts. This world needs you, fully. We need you! All of you, without exception! To be Love means to respect and heal your own wounds and to enter the realm of Love through your fears and your gifts. It means to acknowledge your uniqueness and that you transform your inner struggles within. Love isn’t easy, love isn’t sweet!

If you realize your own lovability, if you fully and truly accept yourself now, if you hold yourself dear in every moment of your life; if you will stay present in the midst of fear, sadness or anger; if you don’t run away from yourself in times of failure but stay with yourself fully awake, courageous and tender, you are in love. It really is that simple!  That’s the greatest joke in the universe: We battle for love, we beg for love, we manipulate love, we use love, we struggle with love, we die for love, when all we really have to do is, find love within. Love is a universal force that emerges from a certain state of mind and heart. Love is not an accomplishment that we can reach and then everything will be fine. Often we get this wrong, and then our relation to life stays ambivalent. You might say: “I am so kind and I try so hard, I am successful, I am always there for my friends, I meditate and I don’t eat meat… why the heck don’t  I feel loved, joyful or certain?” Love emerges from the ability to keep yourself and others in a place of unconditional acceptance no matter the circumstances. It does not emerge from choosing the “right” path or some “right” kind of behavior!

Love is like sunlight: it always shines, it radiates. The sun cannot help itself. Our mind may not like it. Our minds want justice, and distinctiveness, and rationalization. But that does not matter to love. It just keeps on loving! Giving itself away freely. And the more it gives, the more powerful it gets!

You do not have to do anything to feel this unconditional love. You do not enter love through activities, like:

  • Drinking green smoothies
  • Eating vegan
  • Meditating every morning
  • Knowing who you are and following your passion
  • Material success
  • Being nice and friendly to everyone
  • Exercising every day, or “giving it your best”

…although all these activities may result from your unique loving perspective. We must understand that we do not have to become someone else in order to be worthy of love or experience love. Love is not bound to any of our rules. There is no model to follow, no teacher or guru to copy, no lifestyle to realize. There are grumpy vegans around, righteous meditators and very sad millionaires. So it cannot be a program, there is no right path that leads to love. And love does not necessarily lead to outward success. Love leads to yourself and that, my friend, is more than enough, more than we could ever ask for. Since love is limitless, we cannot access love through limited perspectives! Since love is unconditional how could we access the realm of love through conditioned practices? Love can only be found by yourself, and by yourself alone. And the way you will arrive at the center of your heart will be just as unique as you are. It will be shaped by your dreams, your talents, your gifts, your surroundings, your interests, your friends and your circumstances. There are no conditions in Love.

There are essentially two ways to experience the human nature in this world. We are creating our lives either from a place of fear or from a place of love. We unconsciously choose love or fear with every breath we take, in every moment we live. And we experience the consequences of our own choices individually and collectively. That’s what we call life.

See, your heart informs your thoughts, your feelings and your actions. Your heart is the center of your life. When you are grounded in love, your thoughts will be loving. They will be thoughts of gratitude, appreciation, wonder and joy. They will be thoughts of acceptance , responsibility, trust and forgiveness. If you are grounded in fear, your thoughts will be thoughts of doubt, of anger, of disconnection and loneliness. If love is radiating in your heart, your hands will be guided to touch the world tenderly and with great respect. Your hands will be able to hold another being who is in pain with grace. They will be guided to create beautiful art. Your hands will give and receive love. They will be gentle, strong and of service. If you grew fear in your heart, your hands will protect you, they will not be in touch with life, they will destroy, manipulate, break, steal and hold others at a distance. Your hands will grow friends or enemies, just like your thoughts. Your heart is the essence of who you are in this world. Just to know love transforms us so deeply, so radical. But you have a free will. It is you who decides, whether you want to grow love or fear in the center of your life. Choose love, consciously, from moment to moment. Only then we can create arenas of love and safe places in this world.

Look around you with an open heart. Let yourself be touched by the people sharing this safe place with you today. If you look in the eyes of another human being, you see as much light as you see suffering. The very small idea, of not being enough can cause so much pain in someone’s life. Just this small thought will block you to understand your true beauty and being. And we are all full of these ideas, of not being enough, sufficient, worthy. All of us seek true fulfillment, forgetting that no one can ever be fulfilled when believing that one is not enough.

Although there are no outer activities needed to connect with Love (and also no other human beings once you are a grown up), there are indeed universal inner practices that help us uncover the love that is within: be present, discover your blockages to love and release them, and decide to experience love in every moment, that means: root yourself in gratitude and set your vision on love.

There are some underlying fears to experience unconditional love that we all share in one way or another. How these blocks are manifested in our lives is pretty unique again. We don’t need to change the manifestations, but the underlying thought that create tensions in our daily lifes. Open your heart for these blockages now, you’ll know exactly where you resonate and thus you know what you need to transform:

  • “Deep down in my heart, I fear that I am not enough.”
  • “Deep down in my heart, I fear that I am helpless.”
  • “Deep down in my heart, I fear that I will fail.”
  • “Deep down in my heart, I feel excluded from life and love.”
  • “Deep down in my heart, I fear that I am not worthy.”
  • “Deep down in my heart, I fear that I am not loveable.”

These fears result in so many myths about Love that we believed and perpetuated. We just didn’t know better:

  • We wandered around deciding to give love only when we could be sure, to get it back
  • We believed, that there is something wrong with us and that we must fix ourselves, when we didn’t feel loved by our partners, friends and family
  • We tried to be different in order to be appreciated or we tried not to be different at all, in order to be accepted
  • We battled with our closest friends, partners and family and forced them to change, so that we could finally love our ideal version of them
  • We got addicted to the person we thought we belonged too, and we felt like dying when this very person left our life
  • We believed in the methods and teachings of spiritual, political, cultural or business leaders and followed their paths, hoping that at the end of their paths we would find ourselves
  • We blamed others when they failed trying to fill our own void
  • We held others down, to feel better
  • We forced our own perception of reality onto others
  • We expected our partners to fully and unconditionally love us exactly as we are, when at the same time we were filled with doubts about our own kindness and wholeness

We felt the pain that came along with these attempts. We learned that we were going nowhere. So we changed our approach. This is the tender and powerful revolution that is going on.

Love yourself. Radiate love. Bring love to every situation. Be the love you wish to see in this world. You are not here to experience an endless symphony of fear, sadness, ambivalence and anger. You did not come here to struggle with life. Life is not your enemy. Life is your lover. And it loves you genuinely, unconditionally and in ways you cannot comprehend. It is indeed not always a sweet love. If needed, Life hits us in the face to wake us up, it brings us to our knees to finally open our hearts.

Fear is often the door to love. Think of fear as a learning. When we fear we bring up walls and fences around our heart. We lock away exactly that which we desperately seek. We keep our love in a small safe to protect it from the often so harsh world, and then we forgot that it is there. We put more locks on our safe, we forget the number code of this safe, we forget the possibility of unconditional love! And then we go and seek it out there, in relationships, in the appreciation of others, of our jobs and successes! Suddenly we are prepared to do all kinds of things for love, although we already have it! We make life decisions based on how others would appreciate these decisions! We surrender our life energy to jobs we don’t like and careers we don’t really want. We stay with people that hurt us. And we get further away from what we know to be true. So the way back is a way back to yourself. Open your safe, rediscover your heart, let yourself be guided by the walls you created within. Let fear lead you the way to the wounds that want to be healed. And they heal just by your presence. Crush these inner walls one by one, or all at a once – just as you wish and feel it to be true for yourself.

The keys to your locks are acceptance and awakening. You awake by freeing yourself from your own created illusions: You are not enough? Is this true? How can this possibly be true? There is no one like you around the corner, your combination of talents and resources, your special kind of vulnerability, your own perspective of life – no one can bring this to the table of life but you. So do it. You are helpless? Is it true? Didn’t life give you a body, a mind and a soul? Then use it to express your joy, your wisdom and power. Can you be sure that you will fail? Of course you can! Of course you get bruises from living! Of course you will fall and get up again. Sure you’ll get worn by life. Love your scars. Use life, too. Is it true that you are excluded from life and love, that you don’t belong? How could that be, you are here, breathing, aren’t you! That means you are part of life, you are right in the middle of it. And if you have a heart, you are also in the middle of love. And are you not worthy? Think of yourself being a child. Look into the eyes of that child that you still are. Tell me: are you not worthy? Is it true? Do you have to do anything to deserve to be loved? No. You are the highest worth, just because you live. You are already here, you don’t need to earn being loved. And then… is it true, that you are not loveable? We think we must be perfect to be loved, right? But it is just not joyful to be perfect! And then for me it’s joyful to be me, not an idea of me or an ideal version. You could try it too, to just be you and love yourself for it.

If you practice loving acts, love will grow immensely. As the number of people grows focusing on the highest love and compassion possible, we will change this world!

  • Practice gratitude
  • Uncover your illusions
  • Leave the concept of right and wrong behind you
  • Be here and now
  • Change the circumstances holding you and other people down
  • Decide to love, not to hate and ground your thoughts and acts in unconditional love
  • Speak up, when you have to!
  • Change the world, and let yourself be changed deeply in this process
  • Surrender to life, to love, to your own true power
  • Set people free, because it sets you free
  • All that you do, devote it to Love for all of us
  • There is no need to actively create love, just express what is there right here, right now and it will become stronger
  • Be a student of Love, not a teacher
  • Be tender with yourself, you have all the time you need.

A conversation about Love is sacred and goes beyond the spoken word! That means we have to talk, listen and act not only with our minds, but more importantly with our open hearts and our guiding hands. Often we are dumbfounded by other’s cruel and horrifying actions. We wonder how anyone could ever do such gruesome things. We cannot comprehend what is happening. And we have to ultimately accept our incomprehension.

So why not accept the much more joyful fact that we cannot fully understand love? When we witness an act of kindness, we seldom wreck our brains as to why people act in such a positive, friendly, and loving way. We don’t need a reason to love our children, do we? We just do! We don’t analyze the friendly smile of a passerby, a fellow driver letting us go first, the compassion of a nurse, the life-saving selflessness of doctors working voluntarily in war zones all over the world.

It really is that simple: you can choose to cut someone off, or use the same situation to create kindness. You can focus on what bugs you about your coworkers input, or you can emphasize what’s good about it. You can be stingy, but might as well be generous. Love is not a zero sum game – which goes against the grain of this zero-sum world. Love actually increases as you spread it!

We are called to find our own way to the realms of love, yet inspiring others through our acts of radical kindness. Love is a practical way that we are all called for to pursue in our daily lives. There is no Love without integration. There is no Love without compassion. There is no Love without true surrender. There is no Love without humility. There is no Love …without us.

Life is so beautiful when we are in love. Love is so extremely wonderful, when we are alive. In this miraculous game called life, we are not alone. Find your unique melody. Become the song of your heart and sing it out loud, like my grandmother did. Because all you need is…

Sing, sing, sing!

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