Towards a Clear Definition of 'Love'

On the weekend I taught a class focused on the heart chakra as part of my Chakra Insights yoga series. The session began with a discussion on finding balance in this energy center of the body, so that we can move through life from a place of love for ourselves and others. But what is love? As each student gave their own interpretation of what love means I was reminded of a definition that I read in All About Love by scholar and cultural critic bell hooks. I promised to share it with everyone after class. I thought it would be fitting to share it with you too because it is difficult to do a good job loving ourselves and others if we cannot agree on a definition of love. Perhaps the definition below will resonate with you on your journey to a more open heart.

Malaika Brooks-Smith-Lowe in Wild Thing a heart-opening pose // Photography by Sabriya Simon

Malaika Brooks-Smith-Lowe in Wild Thing a heart-opening pose // Photography by Sabriya Simon

" I spent years searching for a meaningful definition of the word "love," and was deeply relieved when I found one in psychiatrist M. Scott Peck's classic self-help book The Road Less Traveled, first published in 1978. Echoing the work of Erich Fromm, he defines love as "the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth." Explaining further, he continues: " Love is as love does. Love is an act of will - namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love." Since the choice must be made to nurture growth, this definition counters the more widely accepted assumption that we love instinctually."

- bell hooks