Tag Archives: longing

Open your Heart

A dear friend sent me a link to an interesting TED talk on love and relationships given by Mandy Len Catron. The theme of love and relationships had already been playing on my mind.

After watching the clip, I confessed to my friend that I long to share intimacy and affection with someone of the male variety. I quickly added that I’m just feeling impatient and that I should simply be present.

My friend replied: “There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a special connection with a man. What you mustn’t do is ever make yourself feel bad because that want is there. It’s human nature.” It was nice to read her words.

Mandy Len Catron’s TED talk came about because Mandy, in the midst of a breakup, turned to science to better understand love. While researching the workings of the heart, Mandy discovered a study undertaken by psychologist Arthur Aron 20 years ago.

The study involved having two strangers ask and answer a series of 36 questions designed to make the participants fall in love. Six months later, the participants were married.

One evening, Mandy described Arthur Aron’s study to a university acquaintance. He proposed that they put the questions to the test. And they promptly fell in love!

Mandy went on to write an article about her experience for The New York Times. Since then, she has received endless calls and emails from people who all want to know one thing: Are Mandy and her university acquaintance still together? And the answer is that they are.

This may seem like the happy ending that we’re all hoping for. But what Mandy learned from this incredible experience is that there is no happy ending. There is no ending.

Falling in love is the easy part. The challenge lies in the decision to continue loving each other through the good and the difficult times. The hard part is to allow yourself be vulnerable and to give your heart to someone who may or may not choose to love you back.

These are the parts of love that many single people forget about when we crave a relationship. We want the smiles and the glances, the cuddles and the kisses, the electricity of attraction and the rush of romance.

However, closeness with a partner can really trigger you and bring all your issues to the surface. The choice then is to succumb to the temptation to close your heart and retreat (or defend) or you can deal with these issues and expand, both as a human being and as a couple.

It’s exciting and scary to open your heart to another human being. Being loved can make you feel blissful and secure one moment and out of control the next.

life coach kildare


Today, I told another friend about all of this. She excitedly suggested that we ask one another the 36 questions. “Imagine if we fell in love,” she laughed.

My friend and I answered all 36 of Arthur Aron’s questions. The questions encouraged us to share our life stories, embarrassing incidents, favourite memories, fears, problems and dreams. We were also invited to tell each other what we liked about one another.

Did we fall in love? I can honestly say that my heart was bursting by the end of the exercise. In truth, my friend and I already love one another.

However, this exercise highlighted how much we have in common and how much we value our friendship. Being let into my friend’s life in this way deepened my love for her. Answering these questions also reminded me of how far I’ve come, how great my life is and how wonderful I am.

How do a series of questions make people fall in love? I believe that these questions inspire you to share yourself with another human being openly and honestly. This vulnerability allows someone to get to know the real you. And this can greatly speed up the falling in love process.

I’d definitely recommend completing this exercise, preferably with someone dishy. It may just make you fall in love – with your friend, your partner, or an attractive stranger. It may also make you fall in love with your journey, with your life, and with you, the real you.




The Christmas Present

It was the end of September and I was practising mindfulness. I had just had the best holiday ever. I’d also experienced a summer of fun, friendship and adventure. I remember telling a couple of friends that I was in a “really great place”.

And then things changed. The following few months were turbulent. I felt stressed and under pressure. My feelings swung from anger and resentment to guilt and fear.

Ten days ago, I was asked to make a difficult decision. And one week before Christmas, I found myself moving out of one house and into another. I was shocked and exhausted, upset and excited, free and frightened.

My friends rallied around and took me on a couple of big nights out where I drank a lot of alcohol. The days afterwards were strangled with panic and depression.

I certainly wasn’t feeling very Christmassy. I didn’t decorate. I stopped meditating and exercising. I was just too tired to take out my tools for well-being.

I convinced myself that people wouldn’t like me very much if I wallowed and complained but I couldn’t pretend either. I wanted to be left alone but I felt needy for company and love.

I beat myself up for not snapping out of it, for attracting in this turmoil with my thoughts and beliefs. It’s all my fault, I decided. But I didn’t know how to transform it. It isn’t fair, I wailed.



And today it’s Christmas. I meditate. I exchange gifts and well-wishes with family and friends. I gorge on chocolate and a variety of meats and vegetables. I take the dog for a walk. I watch movies. I give myself acupuncture. I rest. I write in my journal. I do everything I can to lift my spirits but I’m still lacking in enthusiasm and hope.

Suddenly, it strikes me that my suffering does not exist in this present moment. It has arisen out of my thinking. It lurks in my expectations about how I should be. It grows in my resistance to how things are. It expands with my longing for something more, something different. It strengthens with my doubt and self-flagellation.

I realise that this moment holds no pain. So I bring my full attention to right now. I become present to the dog as it snuggles up beside me. To the trees that line the quiet country road. To my laughter at The Big LebowskiTo my loved ones. To the clear night sky and the shooting star that dives before me.

This moment is perfect. My suffering is simply an illusion created by my thoughts, attachments and misguided beliefs.

Today, my brother gives me a gift of a beautiful necklace. I decide to use this chain as a reminder to be present.

Today, I give myself the gift of my presence. I shall stop telling myself that this moment is not enough, that I’m not enough.

Because when I’m truly present, this moment is complete. I am complete.



Awake and Aware

In order to wind down for the evening, I stick on an episode of The Mentalist. After about five minutes, I switch it off. I sigh. There’s nothing happening on Facebook. Nobody’s texting me. I don’t feel like reading. I self-diagnose “boredom”.

I take out my iPod, turn off the light and lie there listening to a Sleepy Time playlist I compiled a few years ago. A recent conversation with a friend comes to mind. She spoke about feeling that she has to be doing all the time. When she’s doing nothing, she gets into a bad mood. “Why can’t I just be,” she asks rhetorically.

I become aware that, right now, there is a need in me for excitement. I’m not being present. I’m wishing and longing for action, for something more. With this realisation, comes a feeling of space and acceptance and gratitude for what I do have.

I notice the beauty of this moment. The darkness of the room. The feeling of the bed beneath me. The lamplight pooling underneath the curtains. The music with its keening harmonica and evocative expression of passion. And the energy that I feel coursing through my body.

I don’t have to wait for something big to happen so that I can relish the moment. Every single moment is an opportunity to be present to it, to welcome it, to expand into it, and to be all that I am.

I think, therefore I am.

As I tucked into a pita bread heaped with feta cheese, olives, tomato, cucumber, olive oil and oregano, I imagined that I was lounging on a sunny balcony overlooking the Mediterranean. A smile crept across my face as I soaked in the beauty of the scene that I had created. I instantly relaxed.

But it’s not as good as it would be if I were really there, I thought. The image (and the feeling) disappeared. Then, I realised that I could just as easily be on holidays and be so caught up in thought that I wouldn’t even see the white strand or the sun-kissed flowers. The worry, fear, disappointment or anger would smother the sounds of the ocean and the trilling of the birds.

It doesn’t matter where you are when you are not present. When you become lost in thought, you flee from the now. You are not accepting of what is. You tell yourself that you should achieve more and look better, that he should have done this, and she shouldn’t have done that. You long for the past and you wish for the future. You regret yesterday and dread tomorrow. You don’t recognise that you are in the company of another wonderful human being or that your eyes can witness the light in the sky. You forget to use your hands to touch, to feel, to embrace. You don’t appreciate the perfume of the sea air or the grass and trees after a sudden rainfall. You close yourself off to the peals of joy and the miracle of music. You don’t even notice that you are breathing, that you are alive.

Many people think that they are controlled by their thoughts. But you can decide what to focus on. Allow your thoughts to occur, then let them drift on by, like ripples in a stream. You don’t have to attach to or identify with them. Because these thoughts have the power to create your reality. What you think, you feel. And what you feel, you experience.

What reality shall you manifest today?

Image: favim.com/image/417857/

Desire Always Tastes Like More

Desire is something that’s glamourised by the entertainment and advertising industries. It’s exciting in its provocative promise of something better than what you’re currently experiencing. But have you ever wondered if it’s your desire that’s making you unhappy?

Every time you long for those shoes or that car, or whenever you sigh in frustration because you won’t be happy until you find your perfect partner, your desire is taking you out of the present moment and into a place of dissatisfaction. A place where you are displeased with how things are so you want something different from what is.

That is not to say that your desires should be repressed. It is healthy to want something and to go for it. Eknath Easwaran writes: “Desire is the fuel of life; without desire nothing can be achieved.” However, desire often takes over and kidnaps you from the present moment, holding you captive in a hellish existence of How I Wish That and If Only. You’re not really living when you’re longing for all the things you haven’t got.

In this case, you have identified with the mind’s idea of an ideal world. You could be content if you just had more money. You’ll finally find happiness when you start a family. You’ll be able to relax when you’ve bought your own home. Well, maybe not until you’ve paid off the mortgage… The mind has tricked you. The ego’s desires can never be satiated. Eckhart Tolle writes:

“As long as I am my mind, I am those cravings, those needs, wants, attachments, and aversions, and apart from them there is no ‘I’ except as a mere possibility, an unfulfilled potential, a seed that has not yet sprouted.”

The trick to all this is to become aware of your thoughts and the feelings that arise from them. How attached are you to the fulfilment of these desires? And who are you without them? This means becoming present. In the present moment, you can learn to be content with what is. What you have or haven’t got doesn’t matter when you’re truly present.

And if, in this moment, you desire something, your presence of mind will allow you to achieve it. And so you will be able to bake the most delicious cake. Or share some wonderful intimacy with a loved one. Or pluck up the courage to ask that person out. Or feel confident enough to go for the job you really want. Or simply take yourself to the ocean’s edge and really see it and hear it and feel its spray on your upturned face.

"If you desire many things, many things will seem few." Benjamin Franklin

Image: http://photo.99px.ru/i/?pid=21942

Unrequited love: I love him, he loves me not

Unrequited love is bittersweet. Feelings of passion, promise, and affection are diluted with feelings of longing, rejection, and frustration. Your life is plunged into a cocktail of excitement and disappointment. You had been plodding along contentedly in your plain little world until you develop a crush on some oblivious character and suddenly, everything is brighter and louder, fun but scary. Kind of like a fun fair. Unfortunately, your crush doesn’t know you exist, doesn’t realise your lust for them, is currently attached to some other lucky so-and-so or, worst case scenario, knows you’d cart-wheel through hoops of fire to snog them and would prefer to forget that little tidbit of information.

How do you cure a serious dose of unrequited love?

1) Wear your heart on your sleeve

Better to know one way or the other, and sooner rather than later. Right? Tell him/her how you feel. Maybe they feel they same and you’ve just saved them the daunting task of opening up to you. Either, you’ll be cosying up on the couch with the object of your affection before you know it, or you’ll find out it’s a no-go area and give up.

Unless, deep down you know that this person will never live up to the leading star you’ve created in your (crazy) mind. He/she is so nice to you in your head, and a fantasy lover never doubts themselves, disagrees with you or farts in bed. And they definitely won’t resemble a bleary-eyed, cranky skunk in the mornings. In this case, tuck your heart under your cuff and enjoy the reverie.

When I was about 12, I knew a boy with movie star good looks. Every girl in the town was after him. I fancied him and I must have fancied my chances with him because I ordered my friend to tell him that I liked him. He never did anything about it. And that was enough. I had given it my best shot. So, I moved on to fantasising about other guys I had absolutely no chance of meeting let alone dating. Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, Jordan Catalano, to mention but a few.

2) Milk it

Make the most of how alive you’re feeling right now. Colours are more vivid. Every song on the radio talks to you. The slightest glance from your amor is enough to spread warm tingles all over. You have all this love, passion, angst, and pain, and nowhere to send it. So, feed these intense emotions into song lyrics or poetry, run through the hills, take up kick boxing. Get out all that energy and turn it into something positive and creative. At 15, I wrote a poem about an unwitting hottie in my ninjitsu class, with the spectacularly surprising title “Unrequited Love”.

You can also milk it with your mates. Girls love discussing unrequited love. Get them to call over for some vino, Ben & Jerry’s and a good ol’ chinwag. They can empathise and offer advice or slate the dude if that’s what you’d prefer. If you’re a guy experiencing a nasty bout of unrequited love, you can also try get yer mates over with choccies and hankies. Alternatively, head down to the pub.

3) Wallow in it

Once in a while, it’s nice to be able to indulge in a bit of wallowing. Kind of like when orange juice stings the crack in your lip and you take another sip ‘coz you sorta liked it. In the case of unrequited love, you may not have even known the chap(ette) so your heart probably isn’t broken broken. Seen as it’s not totally devastating, you may simply enjoy lying in your dirty bath water for a bit longer than necessary. Hence why I played this song on repeat for about a week after a break-up when I was 16. 

4) Self-love

Sometimes, unrequited love is less about your fantasy partner and more about you. Sure you hardly know them. But you’re certain that if they knew the real you, they’d fall deeply in love with you. If only they knew how talented, sweet, funny, and generous you are. You post cool YouTube videos on your blog and update your status constantly with witty comments and inspiringly intelligent quotes just so that he will finally figure out that you’re the one he’s been searching for. Newsflash: this is a pointless exercise because he’s probably removed you from his Facebook news feed for taking up his homepage with irrelevant drivel.  I know, I know, you want to share your magnificent self with someone. But you’re aware of all these wonderful things about yourself. So why not love and enjoy yourself for a while? One day, you will share these things with someone else. Someone who values all you have to offer and who has a hell of a lot to offer you as well.

5) Don’t boil any bunnies

Seriously, don’t stalk the poor fecker. Don’t even engage in any of that modern-day, socially acceptable stalking. Checking his Facebook page several times a day is not healthy. Especially if you’re not even friends. And saving his profile picture onto your computer is just not cool. And please, don’t drive by his house every evening. Particularly, if his is the end house in a cul-de-sac.

We all want to be loved and appreciated. More than that, we want someone (other than ourselves) to notice (and adore) all those lovable and quirky things that make us who we are. This lovely clip sums it up. 

Observe all the best things about yourself. Write them down. And forget about needing someone else to notice how nice you are. You will always (and rightly so) be your own biggest fan.