Love is in the air!
"The Power of Love," the 1985 hit single from Huey Lewis and The News, describes love as "a curious thing." That's probably the understatement of all time! Throughout history, Love, that enigmatic entity, has been the focus of our music, literature, art; it has been a driving force behind our goals and dreams; inspiring, frustrating, fulfilling, intriguing --- love is an integral part of what it means to be human. Although this noun is intangible, it can be felt; unquantifiable, it can be cherished; incorporeal, it can be shared. Love moves us in myriad ways: fascinates, mesmerizes, taunts, intrigues, frustrates, inspires, fulfills, compels.
Today, we tend to use the word love freely, rather casually, expressing affection not only for other people but for activities, meals, television programs. The Ancient Greeks, however, took a more formal approach to the concept, demarcating love into seven divisions: Storge, Pragma, Ludus, Eros, Philia, Agape, Philautia.
Love for Others
A feeling of security emanates from Storge. It is familial love, the reciprocal feelings between child and parent; Storge involves forgiveness and acceptance, making one feel comfortable, out of harm's way. Picture this: At the end of the day, despite the missteps or the scolding, parent and child bond before bedtime.
As the term suggests, Pragma is a practical love; it pertains to the long-term love of a married couple, individuals whose commitment to the relationship has engendered a deep understanding of each other. Picture this: An elderly couple know exactly how to comfort one another, ever tolerant of the other's quirks.
Playfulness and flirtation characterize Ludus. While it implies a certain level of innocence, Ludus describes a casual relationship in which fun, not commitment is the objective. Picture this: Two individuals, whose spouses don't care to dance, meet for a monthly tango lesson. Occasionally, trouble arises when Ludus is mistaken for Eros.
Named after the Greek god of sexual desire, Eros, the source of "erotic," is romantic love. Individuals are physically attracted to one another; Eros suggests "falling in love," as if one were struck by Cupid's arrow. Picture this: I'll leave that up to you.
Philia, known also as Platonic love, is based on shared values and deep understanding. Plato saw Philia as a desire for a fuller life through others. Query and conversation, not competition, are hallmarks of this relationship. Picture this: Two good friends proofread and edit each other's term papers.
The practice of "paying it forward" is a manifestation of Agape. This love for humanity expects no reward for charitable acts, often is expressed anonymously. While Agape certainly benefits the receiver, the giver is energized through selflessness. Picture this: An individual regularly shovels the snow from his neighbor's walk and refuses any compensation.
Love for Self
Before you can love others, you must first love yourself. Philautia, the foundation upon which all other loves are derived, is a prerequisite before one can healthfully show true affection in any relationship. Yet, Philautia should manifest as self-esteem, not the excessive vanity of narcissism. Only if we care for bodies, minds, and spirits can we truly share love with other people. Positive self-love will improve your relationships with others and help you better manage those speed bumps in your life.
Acknowledging the importance of self-love is the first step toward actualization. But how can we achieve this sense of personal well-being? Just participating in activities that make us feel good is not the same as self-love, and we can't achieve it merely by reading self-help books. Philautia involves deliberate, healthy behavior --- a purposeful lifestyle that has your needs in mind.
Knowing how you think or feel about a situation or another person allows you to act according to you own understanding. This personal awareness helps you to avoid manipulation from others, enabling you to act according to your own goals and beliefs. Recognize the kindness of others and show your appreciation; make gratitude an integral part of your life. At the same time, be kind to yourself; practice self-forgiveness. Everyone makes mistakes, but the mindful individual learns from those errors. Spending 30 minutes a day in your sauna provides the perfect opportunity to reflect and renew.
Many of us have difficulty saying "No." Yet, if the endeavor or circumstance is negatively affecting us, whether physically or emotionally, then it's running counter to Philautia. Once you are aware of your own needs and those activities which are inconsistent with them, then self-love requires you to set boundaries. Participate in those activities which promote self-improvement.
The same goes for people who bring negativity into your life; avoid any relationship with individuals who will negatively affect you; if you must interact, then limit your time with them.
Surround yourself with people who bring you happiness and fulfillment, people who can share your own positivity.
We have been told that our bodies are the temples of our souls. Unlike our automobiles and house, we can't upgrade our bodies to newer styles; yet, we can improve and maintain the models we received at birth. Make a healthy lifestyle your priority: eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, hydrate. Adding a sauna to your life can help improve your overall wellness. As you relax in the deep penetrating heat of a Thera360 sauna, use the time to meditate and chart your daily intentions.
- Melody Besner