Here’s a simple little bit about love.

Every morning, I say thank you. First thing. It’s a practice.

When I put my feet on the ground to get out of bed, I take quick account of my many gifts. Legs work. Cognition: check. Hands open and close. Eyes see. I’m fortunate. I love my life. Thank you.

And then the day starts.

I share this because I’ve come to realize a few things in the last year of living alone. Whether you’re fortunate enough to have a love share your bed or if you’re simply growing love in your heart, it’s the love that counts. Not the partner. Not the bed. Not even the legs or hands or eyes that function. It’s the love YOU have. It’s your love.

We may initiate other practices to help us stabilize the love inside us. Some people choose to scrapbook memories; some people bake cookies for their friends. Other people surf, go to church or volunteer somewhere. We might cook or clean or teach or draw horoscopes for people or make necklaces to give away to those who need them. Our practices are usually about being of service, whether to ourselves or others. About taking ourselves out of our routines and offering ourselves to another moment. And in that other moment, we rediscover our connections. To ourselves first. And then with others. And the world around us.

And when we find those connections in whatever idiosyncratic practice we keep, and when we let ourselves experience a sense of gratitude for the connections and the practice itself, we discover a totally cool feeling. The connection we’re feeling is just a longer word for love.

Check it out for yourself. I’m pretty sure I’m not wrong. We all love love. We all have our little ways of cultivating it. I, for one, practice yoga— did you know it means union? Another word for connection.

But my practice doesn’t mean I buy $100 mats or sticky-soled socks. It just means that I do my best to remember—no matter what I’m doing—that I conduct my life honestly, kindly, moderately and with devotion. I take care of my body and my mind. I study myself. I express gratitude. I do my best to be compassionate. I remind myself to see the light inside myself and inside others.

But all this, with all due respect to yoga, is somewhat of an abstraction. A necessary one because it helps to have a practice that guides me. But an abstraction nonetheless. The practice simply helps me remember a very simple thing.

Which leads me to my point. The simple bit. What if you remembered on a daily basis that your entire purpose on this fine earth is the act of making connections? Of creating love? That your highest and best use is to be of service to love. Whether you share love with another, teach others about love, receive love without condition, inspire others to love or help love to grow where it hasn’t yet rooted.

The only important consideration for you and me and everyone else is connection.

Love.

It’s the whole point. And it makes the whole point much, much clearer when you just surrender and accept it.

I love you!

What’s the sound of you inner voice shrieking?

Ahem. Excuse me a moment while I clear my throat. I’m just choking a little on that inner sage I’ve been ignoring. Fortunately, she’s a patient, if volatile, woman. Also, not averse to punching my hyoid to remind me of her existence. A-hem. Now where was I?

Have you ever had the experience of knowing something is wrong for you but you do it anyway?Strike that. You don’t just do it; you fling yourself head over ass into the void with some sense that here is a hole you can plug. Despite your aversion to the dark? Despite the blood-curdling, horror-movie, don’t-open-that-door-just-don’t-oh-my-god-really-you-idiot scream issuing from your subconscious? Despite the fact that the hole is, well, potentially more than a hole? It could be a chasm of despair. A wormhole. A soul-sucking vacuum in which you may lose the very authenticity that distinguishes you from the borg.

Don’t fib.

I bring this up because I’ve recently returned to Yoga Nidra via Richard Miller’s very good book on the subject.

‘Aw geez,’ I hear you sighing, ‘another brand of yoga?’ Take heart. This one isn’t a brand so much as a process– a subfield of the broader science of yoga. In yoga, we’re scientists researching ourselves. In yoga nidra, we do our research in a state just shy of sleep. No poses to learn here but sleepy time savasana. Mmm. Deep, deep, juicy savasana. Sew some footies onto your lab coat.

But wait. There’s more. And it isn’t easy.

Yoga nidra is all process. Complex process. Mind-blowing process. A process, I promise, that’s a greater challenge than any ekapada hooha arm balance you’ve mastered. Also, a process that makes you very aware of how many holes you’ve plugged just to keep from doing the hard work of filling it, covering it, avoiding it, firebombing it, whatever. You arrive in savasana, relax and the work starts. Richard Miller says, ‘most people are trying to change themselves; yoga nidra asks them to welcome themselves.’ Can you think of anything more daunting?

One of the most compelling ideas in yoga nidra is that our careful observation of the sensations in our body, expectations of our intellect, traumas of our damaged egos– and an exploration of their opposites– will allow us to hear the messages each of these perceptions are giving us. Maybe you call yourself a fake. Or unlovable. Maybe you believe only you know what’s right. In yoga nidra, we get quiet; we travel close to sleep. In the silence, we might hear the familiar chatter of our self-doubt or aggression. But instead of hearing it and believing it, we pair it with its opposite. ‘I’m genuine.’ ‘I’m lovable.’ ‘I may not always know everything.’ In the silence, we respond to the prattle of our minds with other possibilities. We comfort ourselves with other ways of thinking. We revise old stories. And, strangely, it works.

Suddenly, hearing this dialogue of possible thought, the prattle starts to seem absurd. Like a very bad joke. An offensive term your fat, weird uncle uses to make it clear he’s a racist. An anachronism. The old story is a tale no longer appropriate and, importantly, no longer true to you. In fact, it never was true but a pretense of truth. In this discovery, weirdly, truth arises. In your deep savasana, you start to recognize truth in a new way. And, with practice, you start to respond according to the demands of what is actually true to you. You start to react appropriately.

The timber of your inner voice stops reaching shock and awe level. The flinging ceases. The holes aren’t even of interest. Not unless you’re interested in sowing seeds or listening for echoes.

I admit I don’t have a great conclusion here. I’m learning as well. I can say that the process is confrontational but not brutal. I can say that several of my peers report tears and anxiety in the practice but none of them have let it go. I think that’s because the process goes on. This idea of opposing limiting beliefs takes on a life of its own with very little effort. It resonates. None of us want to loathe ourselves. All of us, I think, sense that hate is only love in uncomfortable clothing. Why not undress it?

So maybe look this up. Yoga nidra. Try it out, report back. Let’s mess around with the integrity of our beliefs and expectations to see whether any of them serve us for anything beyond sending us into holes.