I’m reading a book about caring for plants to a group of second grade students. “What do plants need to live and grow?” I ask them. The students tell me what they know, how plants need water, soil, sunshine. At the end of the discussion, a girl with a cheery round face shoots up her hand, full of enthusiasm. I call on her. “There is one special ingredient, everything needs to grow,” she says. “And that’s love.” She smiles.

Yes, she was right. Love was the special ingredient.

How am I giving love to the world, so that people, plants, and everything around me can grow and thrive? How am I not giving love?

I have noticed that at times when I hold back from pouring love into the world it’s because of a lack of self acceptance. I am critical of myself, and judgmental of others, which are two sides of the same coin. In many ways, self acceptance allows me to love others more.

I came across this quote from Thich Nhat Hanh, which was published in Shambhala Sun, March 2006, and I really appreciated its perspective. I wanted to share it with you.

Love is the capacity to take care, to protect, to nourish. If you are not capable of generating that kind of energy toward yourself –if you are not capable of taking care care of yourself, of nourishing yourself, of protecting yourself–it is very difficult to take care of another person. Love is a practice. Love is truly a practice.

How are you practicing love in your life?

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