© 2018 by MADELINE MCNEILL

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LOVE



As a body philosopher, I don't pursue love as an abstract ideal, instead I give attention to what is felt. I focus on needs: my needs and others. Then I try to work it out so everyone gets that warm swell of feeling. It's important, the swell. I feel it in the core (pelvis to head). The swell invigorates the core muscles, warms them as they move and feel.

It's a core posture of love--an experience of sensations and movement in the core. There's structure to the experience. The muscles, the heart, the gut, the pelvis, these core muscles, move into a posture, creating a full, felt experience. Eventually the core muscles relax. The experience dissipates. But it will be felt again. We need to feel it again. We need to experience the movement, just like we need to move the arms and legs into exercise, so we need to exercise the core posture of love.

But is that all love is? A movement, a core posture of full feeling?

I think of two main, but very different, ways of exercising love. The first is the core posture experience, the swell of sensation that I mentioned before. The second is intelligent living and caring. It's being able to accurately imagine the overall well-being of another person and then moving to make it happen. It's giving attention to the food someone eats, the sleep they get, the cultivation of mind, helping them exercise who they are. It's caring for others, challenging them, knowing them, exercising a range of feeling, of which the core posture of love may be a part. We use one word, "love" as the label for both activities I described above. I don't like it. I think it confuses things. I think we need two separate words. Our language only seems to vaguely differentiate between the two by context and inflection, something like saying: "I'm not in love with him, but I love him."

Being "in love" is a core posture experience. For me, it comes about when I subposture another person's rhythm: I subtly move within my core to the rhythm of who they are, which creates a felt experience. I acknowledge the experience as beautiful and then I feel a swell: love. I exercise the second kind of love to take care of people and myself, to create a life of growing and learning. The second kind of love describes a way of living with people. And no, I don't necessarily need to feel the core posture of love in order to exercise this kind of care. Sometimes caring requires getting pissed at people. But it's interesting...the more I think in this way, the more I might blend in a little bit of compassion, even if I'm angry.

What's the ideal love for me? Both kinds of love are activities I need to exercise. Everyone needs to exercise both, but how they do depends on the person. How I need to exercise love and be "in love" is different than other people. Ultimately, I aim to find my rhythm and learn to dance to what makes sense to me, and then invite people to dance with me.

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