I’m in love and feeling all the feels. And what better month to fall in love than February, running up to Valentine’s Day? Whether for the love for another being or the love for yourself, these books are like pills in small rectangular form. Vitamins for the heart.
I always find it a joy to read the statements and sweet truths of spiritual teacher, poet and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh. Like no other, he knows how to shine light on complex ideas in a way they can be captured in the simplest of languages, with tangible examples.
He decided to apply the concept of mindfulness to the concept of love. His insights are presented in the tiny pocket book How to Love. The Buddhist monk shines humour and simple clarity on the question of how to love, and captures the complex emotion called love in four essentials:
You can only love another when you feel true love for yourself.
Love is understanding.
Understanding brings compassion.
Deep listening and loving speech are key ways of showing our love.
He explores in simple but profound ways how we can practice love and understanding in our daily lives, transforming more than only our romantic relationships.
Every time I read this poem, I feel it so deeply. If my soul could speak to a lover, this is what it would say. It invites me to live life with the truth, integrity and ecstasy my spirit longs for.
If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to read it now and feel how it impacts you.
Does any particular phrase tighten your muscles, quicken your breath or slow it down?
Can you feel your stomach flip, your back arch and your pelvis clench?
Can you feel old pain aching in your bones?
Do your eyes close as you try to savor the words and their meaning on your lips, your fingers tingle as you want to dance to the rhythm and rhyme, and your toes curl with passion?
Sex psychologist Esther Perel takes a bold stance on intimacy and sex. She explains how these days we’re asking our partners to be our everything.
In the past, marriage was an economic institution; a partnership for life, that probably led to kids, social status and succession. You had an entire village, an entire communal structure, to fulfill the other roles and relationships you needed. Marriage wasn’t supposed to deliver love and passion.
Nowadays, in addition to the expectations of kids, social status and economic partnership, we also want our partner to be our best friend, psychotherapist, childcare, co-worker, laundromat and passionate lover, all at once. So we’re basically asking one single person to offer us what once an entire village used to provide.
We’re basically setting our relationship up for frustration and erotic disaster. Predictability, certainty and domesticity kill sexual desire. Esther Perel believes it's elements of uncertainty, longing and anticipation that feed desire.
So how can we set ourselves up for hot, steaming and satisfying sex instead?
If you love Esther Perel’s podcast 'Where Should We Begin?', you’ll love her book even more. She offers many insights on what it takes to bring lust home.
Written by a sex educator, this book translates scientific studies and years of common and uncommon questions into sexual wellbeing. This fun read explains how patriarchy has taught us that women’s sexuality is a lesser, broken version of men’s sexuality - which of course, it isn’t.
Emily explains in clear and no-nonsense language how for most women, context matters, desire doesn’t come spontaneously and wetness often doesn’t necessarily correspond with feeling turned on. She simplifies women’s desire into accelerators (how easily you find a reason to have sex) and brakes (how easily you’ll find a reason not to have sex). When you link this to context, you’ll find working on the mundane stress factors in your life can help you release the brakes and more fully enjoy sex.
I challenge you to read this book and not have a better sex life.
In these two books, philosopher Alain de Botton deconstructs the various aspects of falling in love and the complex course of a long-term relationship. He examines our very view of love and the survival of love over time.
These are a few of my favorite paragraphs (in no particular oder):
“Every fall into love involves the triumph of hope over self-knowledge. We fall in love hoping we won't find in another what we know is in ourselves, all the cowardice, weakness, laziness, dishonesty, compromise, and stupidity. We throw a cordon of love around the chosen one and decide that everything within it will somehow be free of our faults. We locate inside another a perfection that eludes us within ourselves, and through our union with the beloved hope to maintain (against the evidence of all self-knowledge) a precarious faith in our species.”
“To be loved by someone is to realize how much they share the same needs that lie at the heart of our own attraction to them. Albert Camus suggested that we fall in love with people because, from the outside, they look so whole, physically whole and emotionally 'together' - when subjectively we feel dispersed and confused. We would not love if there were no lack within us, but we are offended by the discovery of a similar lack in the other. Expecting to find the answer, we find only the duplicate of our own problem.”
“But our wild charges are a peculiar proof of intimacy and trust, a symptom of love itself – and, in their own way, a perverted manifestation of commitment. Whereas we can say something sensible and polite to any stranger, it is only in the presence of the lover we wholeheartedly believe in that we can dare to be extravagantly and boundlessly unreasonable.”
“Marriage: a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be, binding themselves to a future they cannot conceive of and have carefully omitted to investigate.”
Did you know we sometimes refer to your emails as 'love letters'?
Drop us a line and let us know about the books you've been reading, or let us know how your jewelry is doing! We'd love to hear the happy/funny/sad continuations of the Gardens of the Sun pieces you chose. Afterall, you're part of our journey beyond jewelry 😉