Learn to fall in love with life itself, and watch your relationship blossom.
When I broke up with my “one true love,” my life suddenly took a turn for the better.
I’ve heard it said that the best way to attract love is to love oneself and to approach life as if it were the ultimate lover: with reckless abandon and the understanding that our recognition of our own innate wholeness is the best foundation for any kind of intimacy.
Now that the dream had been shattered and I was tasked with the very real work of coming home to myself, I could finally relax. I could take off the masks I’d worn in order to convince myself and my lover that I was worthy, capable, deserving.
I could stop pretending I was a diamond in the rough and finally claim my magnificence once and for all. The breakup melted me down into formless gold so that I could decide how I wanted to reborn. After three days of sobbing into my pillow and watching Netflix, I emerged from the cocoon of my apartment a new woman.
I was ready to start over. I was ready to experience oneness. I was ready to have a tawdry love affair with life itself.
So how do you begin the task of starting over when your heart has just been mercilessly, messily broken?
As many of us have discovered, post-heartbreak is the best time for reinvention. A broken heart does one of two things: It cracks open or it collapses closed.
From my experience, a closed heart precludes the possibility of effective healing. So as much as it hurt, I wanted to keep my heart open. I wanted to experience the magnificent healing alchemy that occurs when you say yes to life in the face of deep grief.
There are plenty of ways you can learn to turn on and fall in love with the world. Here they are:
Believe in your desire.
Turn-on is the response your body has when you are truly following your desire. And of course, our best gifts and deepest pleasures are to be found in close proximity to our delights. If you are seeking the purpose of your own life, the best question to ask is, “What turns me on?”
The source of all pleasure and aliveness and desire is so simple it’s profound: it’s your body. To be clear, a sense of being turned on by life itself can come from anywhere, but you only know it’s present when you feel it in your body.
To desire is an act of faith in ourselves and our world. Our everyday turn-ons, when fully trusted, are a trail of breadcrumbs leading us ever deeper into the experience of pleasure and fulfillment. When we follow that trail of breadcrumbs, our turn-on becomes even more pronounced. And there is a quality of effortlessness about it, even in the midst of what might appear to be tremendous exertion, because there is no resistance.
So trust what you love, and move toward it. It will do wonders for your heart.
Be the Divine.
People who love themselves attract the best parts of other people, and of life itself. Their power is clear and self-evident; thus, they will never hide behind a lover or feel diminished by a lack of relationship. Moreover, their beliefs are customized to fit who they are at their core rather than what they may have inherited from a culture whose ideas about love are severely broken.
When you walk around exuding an innate sense of self-worth and love, this isn’t the same as mental masturbation or ego-tripping (which tend to arise from an inferiority complex). Rather, you are connected to your power source: the universe, God, cosmic awesomeness, whatever you wish to call it. When you are that deeply attuned to the Great All That Is, you might still have bad days and you might occasionally feel lonely, sad, angry, or fearful—but you’ll recognize these as passing experiences that need not detract from your essential wholeness and openness to life.
I won’t lie—this one takes practice. But the practice enables you to recognize your own intrinsic perfection. One of my teachers, Tosha Silver, suggests going through your day with the statement, “I am the Divine … walking down the street … doing my laundry … making love …” because it jars you out of a self-pitying sense of smallness and into the conscious realization that you are part of the great force holding the universe together. It’s also really, really hard to hold on to grudging, small sentiments like “life done me wrong” if you are busy repeating this mantra to yourself and owning your own innate divinity.
Connect with your sexuality.
Relationships are amazing—especially because they have the capacity to reveal aspects of ourselves that we might not have immediate access to, such as our sexuality.
In general, we discover the cataclysmic waves of our desire and our sexuality in the throes of love. But connecting with your sexuality transcends interpersonal intimacy. It’s (obviously) a form of pleasure, and (less obviously) a source of power. When you connect with your sexuality not as a way of blowing off steam but as a way of maintaining an intimate and sacred connection with yourself, something incredible happens: you discover your capacity to be turned on and enlivened by all the circumstances, people, and situations that life throws your way.
The background hum of your sexuality is extremely beneficial. Make no mistake—turn-on isn’t something you can feel merely in sex, but also in the most mundane of moments. It truly is a natural state, and when we step into it, others can sense it as soon as we walk into the room. While they may not be sure of what it is, they’re certainly aware of it. Also, when you are in this state, you aren’t automatically fixated on finding the right circumstances or person in order to express your sexuality—you are always capable of having a fantastic experience, and you are infinitely freer to express love and desire.
When you love, love all the way.
There is so much love we have to give every single day. We don’t have to wait for special opportunities or the right lover in order to give it. We can offer our unabashed appreciation to the customer service representative that we’ll never see again. We can say, “I love you—and let me count the ways” every time we get on the phone with the parent or sibling who lives across the country. We can afford to be spontaneous and risky, simply because we choose not to shut our emotions down and be in mediocre relationship with ourselves and the world.
Our purpose, after all, is to love—not just to be loved.
I want to finish by telling you what happened to me after my lover and I broke up. We spent several months apart—and in that period, I lived the hell out of life. There were ecstatic peaks and soul-crushing valleys. I worked, I wrote, I went on meditation retreats, and I entered the most serious period of rigorous spiritual practice that I have ever experienced. None of this was because I was trying to get over him. It was because I wanted more than anything to return to myself.
Eventually, we met up for dinner and immediately recognized that something had changed. As we sat across the table talking to each other, the ubiquitous static of anxiety and desperation that had clouded our old relationship seemed to have melted away entirely. Being with each other was effortless. It was easy for me to pay attention to what he was saying without detecting perceived slights or figuring out what I was going to say next. I felt simultaneously self-contained and exquisitely capable of being present, with no conditions.
“You’re glowing,” he insisted. “What happened?”
As I revealed the ins and outs of my journey, it became abundantly clear that we weren’t finished with each other. Or rather, life wasn’t finished with us.
Fast-forward five years: The relationship continues to flourish.
What made the difference? I’d like to say that we both learned to fall in love with ourselves, but I think it goes beyond that. I believe that strong relationships are fundamentally about a curious, loving engagement with the world around us, and an unwavering faith in what life has in store for us.
The second iteration of our relationship is wildly different from the first. It is a relationship that isn’t stunted by the desperation for love (which resulted in all sorts of debacles) or by a claustrophobic definition of intimacy. It is, rather, supported by a simple desire to share a love that is sourced in abundance—that can literally be collected from all four directions.
Love is not the scarce commodity you may believe it to be. And when you truly tap into it, for no other reason than that it is in your most vital nature to do so, it will transform your relationship to yourself, to your partner, and to life itself.
Nirmala Nataraj is an award-winning writer, editor, desire coach, and self-described taboo slayer living in New York.