So much has been said of friendship and love that it seems on one level redundant to even write about it. In my own life I have found insight, understanding, awareness and suffering, as I engage the pursuit of its experience and the never ending conversations that occur around the dance of its expression.

Perhaps where there is loss and grieving around friendship and love, it is only then that we seek a deeper level of its understanding, meaning, expression, need and purpose in life? Perhaps a hunger or desperation inside guides and motivates our behaviors in seeking, engaging and celebrating its expression; to continue to find deeper layers of its company within all our relations?

One thing is very clear; the greatest killer to love, whether it is in the friendship of another, or to the companion we may call our “significant other”, is the attitude with which we bring or develop.

How do we show up in friendship and love?

Do we look for and focus on “what is wrong” with its expression or do we inquire and explore as to “what might be missing” within its potential? Do we pursue an imagined possibility or do we shrink from a shadow of doubt that may exist within our mind? Do we risk exposing our inner most thoughts and fears with the hope that in that exposure, we will be seen, heard, and embraced for Who We Are, or do we hide pieces of ourselves that will only, ever, continue to be shrouded in the shadow of past pain or unresolved emotion that has anchored itself to our heart? Are we willing to risk the unknown territory of its experience or will we retreat to the confines of a conditioned mind and heart? Do we force this relationship to fit into a box like any or all previous boxes, or do we allow the gift of its presence to be wrapped and unfolded, uniquely, originally, unconditionally?

A common thread within our existence is that we often suffer greatly as we stumble in the pursuit of friendship and love. There appears to be a rhythm and flow to friendship and love, and to find another, a friend or lover who rapports to and with the rhythm and flow of our own pace appears to be both the challenge and the ideal. When it happens though, when friendship or love does occur, a priceless magic can be experienced in the moment as one Soul connects to another; as a bond is established on the deepest of unseen, non verbal levels.

The actress Bridget Nielsen once said:

“the love story is always the same; I keep finding myself a step ahead or a step behind…”

I am no expert in this dance; I have fallen in friendship AND in love, more times than not. As a witness though, and an often unwilling participant in the “search” for friendship and love, I have made a few observations while on this path; a few insights which I share with you now; 7 reasons why love hurts…

1) Expectation: Expectation of any kind kills the present moment. When you can show up without expectation, you can be in the present moment; you can navigate the ebb and flow of the present moment. If you’re mind is busy, fixated on the past, or imagining a particular future, how can you ever hope to respond to the rhythm and flow of the moment? How can you touch, taste, feel, see or hear the pulse of friendship or love in this present moment now?

The present moment is going to happen and it will happen with, or without your attention or permission. When your attention is on the present moment, when it is freed from the fear of the past, or the seduction of a particular future expectation, you will be available to the present moment; you will navigate the present moment. You will thrive in the present moment, and be able to receive the gift of-the-present, in-this-momentary-now.

For every expectation there is a hidden need. We are distracted and deceived when we only focus on the expectation and not the need. When we can become aware of our own needs we will be less inclined to project those needs onto another; in friendship or in love. When we are clear of which needs are of importance while also surrendering those that have little or no value, we will be once again be free to show up without the influence of an unconscious, agenda.

2) Vulnerability: Vulnerability is the naked direct experience and expression of who and what we are in the moment, without judgment, evaluation or significance being placed on that experience or that expression of the moment. When we can express ourselves freely, honestly, in this present moment now, without the fear of being judged or evaluated by our self or another, there will be intimacy. Intimacy is an invitation; in-to-me-see, now.

The practice of Being vulnerable in the moment requires great courage. We don’t “do” vulnerability; we are vulnerable or we are not. Where there is courage there is also freedom; freedom to express one self with or in spite of the judgments or evaluations that may or may not be present in self or another. In the vulnerability of this moment, in the blatant honesty of this moment, there is a chance for the demise or consummation of that friendship or love; will it flicker out like a candle in the wind, or will it foster a new level of trust, understanding, compassion and love within that relationship? Will you risk the unmasking of a false self in order to reveal your true Self?

When we swim in the vulnerability of the moment; when we give and are received completely and unconditionally in that moment, hearts can open. Minds can be freed of one thousand illusions, emotions can be transformed from a source pain and suffering into the innocence of Being. In this vulnerability, in this receiving, a space can be created for deeper levels of our inner Being to be experienced and expressed for both the speaker and the listener. In this moment, there is the potential for the speaker and the listener to merge, to become One.

3) Fear: Fear is a projection of the past or imagined future onto the present moment. As long as we are in our story of “what is going on” or “what could go on”, we will be an unwilling subject to fear. In fact it’s safe to say that all “adverse emotions” that bind and restrict the flow of friendship or love, can only exist while we are in a story.

As long as we are in our story; as long as we continue to act out from a story, we will NOT be in the present moment. This of course can be perfectly ok, if you are willing to be vulnerable, or if you’ve been blessed with a listener, a friend, or a lover, who is willing to receive you as you are.

There are times in life when the burden of our story becomes overwhelming, when it will overshadow our ability to simply show up, and Be present. While we may not be aware of this fact and the impact of our story in its ability to overshadow the present moment, most, are very familiar with its experience when it takes the form of overwhelm, where we suffer.

Our story is who we imagine ourselves to be. It combines memories of our past with our perception of who we are in the present moment. It is the assumption and meaning we give to self and the experiences that appear to occur to self, after they have occurred. It is a very personal, self engendered, tainted narration that is filtered through the mind. It is a subjective version of reality that we call “my story” and “my life”.

The story can only exist in our mind; it can only exist in the past. It takes the form of memories, associations, perceptions, ideas, notions, thoughts, feelings, beliefs and conclusions that arise out of the narration we give to all experience. Our story is based on how we see ourselves, how we see the world, and how we imagine the world see’s us. When we live in the story, we live in the projections of “why me?”, “how come?”, “it should”, “you should”, “they should” and “we should”. We lose ourselves in a conversation of: “if only”, “what if”, “it was”, “may be”, “when I”, “when he”, “when she” and “when they”. We lose ourselves in the justification of a narrative based on “why”.

The seduction of the story lies in its ability to provide us with “an out”, a story line that is based on a dichotomy. If the story is labeled “bad” then we can also have the possibility of “good”. If there is “lack” there is also a chance for “prosperity”, and if there is “sadness” there is always a chance for greater levels of “happiness”. This is the nature of the story; it is based on the coexistence of opposites: if there is “a down” there must also be an “up”; and you know how much we want, need, and desire the “ups” of our story in life?

The degree to which we identify with our story is the degree to which we will suffer. Much of the pain and suffering we experience in our story is a result of the meanings we give to our story. We fail to realize that at some level, any meaning can be given to any story. Detachment and freedom occur when there is a realization that we can have an experience without giving it a story; without interpreting or assigning our experience with a narration or meaning that can only come from the mind and the assumptions made by a blind, mind. We need to avoid at all costs the story our mind may presently be spinning, where we will only, ever, get caught up in the conspiracy of its conjecture and illusion.

Freedom occurs when we come to a place in awareness where no meaning is given to any experience. Without meaning, there can be no story, when there is no story, there will be no suffering. We can be in the story, but not of it.

So, how do you see yourself?

How do you see the world?

And, how do you think the world see’s you?

4) Acceptance: It was never about understanding. Understanding was, is, and will always be, the boo-bee prize; a necessary guest that always arrives late, to the mind. Where there is acceptance, there is love; what more would one need or want as a foundation to any friendship or love?

Awareness is the purest form of acceptance; where the totality of what is, is. Where there is awareness there is spontaneous, inner acceptance; there is response to the ebb and flow of the moment. Where there is awareness all external acceptance or not, becomes secondary; icing on the cake.

Acceptance thrives in awareness; it takes the form of witnessing what is. When you witness what is, there is total acceptance without reason or justification. In the innocence of awareness you are, and all is. While the mind may need to calculate the “whys” and “wherefore’s” of being; awareness as acceptance, celebrates the moment as it is, without judgment, without evaluation, without significance. In awareness the value of acceptance is elevated by spontaneous compassion, effortless understanding, and unbounded Being. In awareness there is no cognition of “this” or “that”. In awareness, there is the simplicity and freedom of Being.

5) Attention: When we give something our attention it will flourish and thrive, when we withdraw our attention it will wither and die. Friendship and love can only exist in this present moment now.
Where is your attention?

If your attention is on the past, you will also be in the past. If your attention is on fear, you will also be in fear. If your attention is on doubt, you will also be in doubt. If your attention is on this present moment now; there can only be love.

Where is your attention, now?

Is it lost in a memory of the past?

Is it overwhelmed by the story of who you imagine yourself to be?

Perhaps it is seduced by the distraction, fantasy, or romance, of what might be?

Is your attention placed “out there” into the foreground of your worldly experience, or does it settle gently into the quiet, still, background of Being?
There is great freedom and power in the quality of your attention. When your attention is in the present moment and your mind is not clouded by unimportant things, you are free to navigate the day to day circumstance of your life. You are free to simply Be.

The quality of your attention is affected by objects of your attention. When your attention is anchored to the background of Being, it enables you to witness what is; without judgment, without evaluation, without significance. When your attention is anchored to the background of Being ~ the One who is Being attentive; your attention will spontaneously illuminate what is vital, necessary, and relevant to the elevation and evolution of your life and the friendship or love that exists or could exist, in this present moment now.

If your attention is scattered, distracted by form and phenomena, distracted by the circumstances or experiences that lie in the foreground of your life, your attention will be bound. Your attention will fixate on unimportant details and you will swim in the delusion of your mind and the distracting thoughts that appear as that mind.

Attention energizes and activates the objects of your attention. It gives life to the objects of your attention. Anything that has a beginning, middle, and ending is an object, including something as subtle as your thoughts or feelings. Your body/mind is an object; everything contained within your world is an object. Your ideas of friendship and love are also concepts; subjective ideas that exist in time and space. They are transient in nature, they come and go. This narration is also concept: it has a beginning, middle, and an end. Will you highlight the transient, bound objects with your attention, or will you highlight the infinite, eternal, unbound, background of your Being?

When your attention is focused, anchored to the background of Being, you will simultaneously be fully absorbed, awake, and aware, to the present moment now. You will not be distracted by obstacles, which can only, ever, exist in the foreground of your life experience or mind. Quiet attention, gathers and informs, organizes and orchestrates what is. In the stillness of attention; when you are standing still in attention, you have access to energy and information which can inform Who You Are and who you will Be. With attention, any relationship will flourish; without attention, it will wither and die.

6) Listening: We all want to be heard; deeply. We all want someone to listen to our story; to be a witness to our story, in spite of our story. Can you listen without assumption? Can you listen without judgment, evaluation or significance? Can you Be present in your listening: to my sadness and pain; to my purpose and joys; to my fears and delusions; to my hopes and dreams? In friendship or love, are you ready and willing to be present in your listening, with what is, what was, and what might be? In your attentive listening, can you celebrate and honor the humanity of my life and the humility of your own?

When we listen innocently with intention, we create the space for acceptance to unfold. To give complete attention to a friend or lover, by listening attentively is to give one the opportunity to be heard; perhaps for the very first time. It is a gift. It is a precious gift of unconditional love.

In friendship and in love, the power of attentive listening can transform and heal. When you listen, you provide affirmation, validation, and appreciation. In your attentive listening, you demonstrate: commitment, care, concern and compassion. In your taking the time to listen; in your making the time to listen, you give and receive the gift that lies within listening. In your listening you find a common, neutral ground; you find your own humanity and the humanity of another; you momentarily share a vision of what is, creating the space for what can potentially Be.

7) There are many “reasons” why love hurts. The greatest of all reasons is that love can only hurt where there is already hurting. The most painful of all hurts is to acknowledge and accept; to realize that the hurt that you are feeling appears to exist within you. The perceived wound of hurt lies in the heart and awareness of the one who is hurting. What is “outside” can only, ever, reinforce what is perceived to be “inside”. The same hurt you see or feel in another will reinforce and affirm the symptoms of a deeper wound of hurt that lies within you. It’s a perceived wound, so deep and familiar; an experience and memory so real, that you will believe it’s you. You will identify “it”, as “you”.

You are not your hurt. You are not the one who is hurting. Prior to the word hurt; you are. During the perceived wounding of hurt, you are, and after the hurting, you will Be. To be free from hurt, the imagined “you” must shift its attention from the wound of hurt, to the One who is observing or witnessing that hurt. “You” must shift “your” attention from the foreground of “your” life experience where the hurting occurs, to the background of Being which lies beyond all hurt.

You must witness the wound of hurt from the background of Being, not the foreground of hurt, in order to realize that you are not the hurt; nor, are you the hurting. You must innocently identify with the peace that lies in the essence of Being; that exists before, during, and after the hurt, to know that you are the peace of Being, and not the hurt or the hurting.

The violence of hurt will happen on “you” or “to another”, but the hurt always lies in the mind and heart of the one who is hurting. The One who is observing the hurt was there before the hurt. The One who is witnessing the hurt will always be present when there appears to be hurt, and the One who is aware, will be always be there for every progressive moment after the hurt has occurred.
Hurt happens “on you”, not “to you”, or “in you”.

As long as you continue to identify yourself as, with, or to the “hurt”, the “you” you imagine yourself to be will suffer. If your attention is on the hurt, you will see hurt, feel hurt, think hurt and believe in hurt. You will be the hurt. Hurt is a story that you give attention, meaning and life to. As long as there is a story, there will be hurt. If you pull your attention from the story of hurt to the background of Being, you will be free to Be. The bound becomes un-bound; what presently appears vincible becomes invincible.

There are times in life where you may appear to experience hurt beyond measure; the kind of hurt that makes you imagine, believe and feel you are irreplaceably broken inside. It will feel as though priceless parts of your Being have been stolen, or even died inside; forever lost to the ash of an experience or memory of what was, is, or might have been. In those moments where friendship or love seems absent, when it seems to hurt the most, you might be tempted to focus on the story of hurt only.

The greatest hurt, lies in the story you subsequently create around your perceived hurt. It lies in the thoughts, memories, emotions, perceptions and associations that arise out of your story of hurt. Hurt lives in the story of hurt; hurt thrives in the story of hurt. The story of your hurt will become more dangerous than any survived event could ever possibly be. You will suffer more in the story of your hurt than you ever possibly could do, in the experience of hurt. Hurt as an experience, has a beginning, middle and ending. The story of hurt can live on forever in the minds and hearts of the hurting.

The stories we tell ourselves about the perception of hurt and who we are, can morph into dishonest betrayals to our Being. They can become selectively edited and sanitized versions of reality; something we subjectively believe to be true. The danger in the allegations of our story is what we decide, assume, and believe about the experiences we have, that become our stories, which we then identify to and with. As we lose our attention to the details of our story, we forsake and abandon Being for the mis-beliefs and lies we tell ourselves.

In our stories we pretend and we imagine, we fear and we judge, we assume and we minimize Who We Are for what we imagine ourselves to be. We distort what is, and create a version of reality that perpetuates the deepest conclusions, illusions and delusions we have about a self that lives and breathes in our day to day existence.

What is inferred and implied in those stories become the foundation of agreements that we then live our life to. We derail and deny the existence of Being for the sake of an agreement we made to our story of self, and we suffer.
While the story may justify; while it may allow us to cope, it will only, ever, provide a false sense of security and perceived strength from the perceived chaos of the moment or past experience. The loss of attention to Being only amplifies the loss of equanimity within our lives; impersonal Being is substituted for a very personal philosophy: the mythology of an “I”.

All stories are acquired. We gather and adopt all hurt. The story of hurt is an internal commitment; an agreement that was made. Do we question and confront these stories? Do we examine the agreements we have made? Do we investigate the lies we tell ourselves? Will the legacy of your life be a story, or will it be the discovery and truth of Being?

You are so much more than your perceived hurt. You are so much more than the perceived story of your hurting. If you want to keep on hurting then allow yourself to stay focused on the story of why you are hurting. If you want to elevate the wound of hurting, let the mind focus and fester; let it harbor on the details of those hurts that have become your story, that you imagine yourself to be.

If you want to move beyond hurt, you will need to shift your attention from the story of the one who appears to be hurting, to the background of your Being. In Being, you will find freedom from hurt. In Being, you will once again be reminded of the peace that you were and are, before the hurting began. The “you” that you imagined yourself to be, will be replaced by a “you”, you could never have possibly imagined. In Being there is no hurt. In Being there can be no hurting. When you are in the present moment, there is no story and there is no hurt. The story of hurt must disappear; the one who is hurting must also disappear.

The story of friendship and love appears to be always the same, you might find yourself a step behind, or even imagine yourself to be a step ahead, but the potential and possibility always exists that you will on occasion step outside the “up” and the “down” of its quest, to find the magic of what can Be.

Are you hurting in friendship or love?

The feeling of hurt is learned and there is always something to unlearn, in order to free yourself from that hurting.

Who came first, you or the hurt?

Until then, be gentle with your self. Be kind to yourself; and if you are hurting you can trust that with a little attention, that unknown part of yourself will become available to play its greatest role; to move you from that perceived hurt of experience, into happiness. To move the you you imagine yourself to be, beyond the experience of happiness, into the bliss of Being.

Until then, you might want to allow? There is something very precious in the field of allowing; something innocent, and something very, very, life affirming. Allowing nurtures, it embraces, encourages and elevates all contained within the spectrum of its comfort and light. Allowing, expresses the deepest aspects of our Being were body and mind, heart and Spirit, become One; where we can celebrate the moment of now, with the Spirit of yes.

As we allow; in our natural allegiance to allowing, the mechanics of a dualistic mind come to an end. In the spontaneous expression of allowing we abandon judgment; the mind and its notions are relegated to mere proposition. In allowing, we withdraw our attention from premature, cognitive, commitments. We withdraw our attention from ideas and philosophies that have no place in Being; that are not needed for the cultivation, experience or expression of Being.

In allowing; the experience and expression of our essence can percolate through the perceived obstacles to friendship and love; through the struggles, the hurts, the strife the gains and losses of friendship and love. In allowing; our essence can move from its marginalized position in the background of our awareness, to become the innocence that lives in the foreground of our awareness. It will thrive, to become our awareness.

Notice or observe “your” experience of hurt…

What observer is observing that hurt?

Where do those thoughts of hurt arise from?

Where do those feelings of hurt subside to?

There are thoughts of hurt and there are feelings of hurt; but who is it that is hurting?

Who is that “I”?

Be gentle in your allowing.

Be innocent in your Friendship and Love.

c) Copyright - Michael Sean Symonds. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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Author's Bio: 

Michael Sean Symonds is a facilitator and self-published author of A Path of Relationship, 1998, and Zen Shredding, 2008. Both books are about Personal Growth and Spirituality. His training includes Polarity Therapy/counseling [1989], and Rebirthing [1991]. In 2001, he became a certified Primordial Sound Meditation instructor with Deepak Chopra and The Chopra Centre for Well Being.

Michael facilitates one-on-one and group explorations in personal growth, healing and consciousness. His intention: to mentor others through his creativity, teaching, speaking and writing; his desire: to elevate and ennoble the lives of others by inspiring them to nurture the wisdom of the Soul. His studies continue, based on the work of Stephen Wolinsky [ founder: Quantum Psychology ] and the late sage/seer Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj.

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