How To Make Love™

  • The status quo, dominant culture of our society was not built to and cannot bring about liberation and justice for all people.
  • What we practice with our lives — our habits and actions — often reinforces that status quo culture, even when we don’t mean for it to.
  • Our opportunity is to become more conscious about what we’re practicing and make choices about how to practice in more liberatory, disruptively self-compassionate ways.
  • Creating collective liberation — out in the world, for all people — starts with, and in fact depends on, our own inner liberation.

That is the heart work we’re doing here.

Published: August 1, 2018

 

How To Make Love™
by laura brewer

Genuine love is a personal revolution. — Thomas Merton

The great irony of love is that it is simultaneously the least and most powerful force on the planet. Or, as bell hooks says: “We use the word love in such a sloppy way that it can mean almost nothing or absolutely everything.”

As a society, we invoke love as if we are summoning a holy spirit: “I did it in the name of love,” “Unconditional love is the answer,” “We just need more love in the world.” We believe in the power of love.

And yet, behind its back, we scoff. We roll our eyes. We skepticize. We speak in platitudes. We’ve built a cheap idol. At a distance it looks vibrant, sturdy, illustrious. But as we get close up to lay flowers at its feet, we see the table beneath turning green, the cracks in the foundation, the spray paint instead of gold.

Someone has stolen the authentic statue off the table and left a cheap replica in its place. We can either grieve its absence and pray, wish, and hope for its return — or —
We can make something new in its place. Something from truth, from wholeness, from and toward liberation.

We can try to find love, or fall into it.
Or we can say “fuck that,” and MAKE it. Everywhere.

I’ve made my choice.

How To Make Love™ is the name of my new podcast, launching September 4th. And it’s also my heart’s obsession right now: reclaiming love, (re)designing love, creating an intentional recipe for custom-to-me-love that allows me to make it, to wield it, to choose it, to be it. At any moment, and in any place.

At first glance, the topics my guests and I have discussed on the podcast seem to have little to do with love:

  • Death
  • White supremacy and white fragility
  • Depression
  • Colonized land and peoples / decolonization as revolution
  • Work culture
  • Politics & Hate
  • Trauma

And yet, as guests and I have explored together, the question of “how do we make love here?” has been boundless. Notice the question isn’t: “can we find love here?” It’s: “how do we make and create love here?” How can we make love in and through death? How do we call upon love intentionally and powerfully to guide us through white fragility and dislodge white supremacy?

The conversations have been humbling, moving, inspiring, challenging, unsettling, uncomfortable, and transformative — everything love is.

 

Here’s what I’ve learned so far about How To Make Love™:

  • You need a definition. When we keep love in abstractions, it remains obtuse. When we allow love to be illusory by not defining it, it will be elusive. I ask all of my guests to define love — what it is to them. “Connection,” “energy,” “understanding,” “a story.” The responses have been — appropriately — as unique as the guests and topics themselves. You can’t go about creating something in your life if you haven’t taken the time to define it.
  • You need a recipe, or list of ingredients. If you want bake a cake, you need to know — and have — the ingredients first. If you wanted to bake up some 100% genuine love in your life, what goes in the batter?
  • I believe in my core that if Justice is not on that list of ingredients, your recipe is incomplete. If we leave justice for ALL people — freedom for ALL people — off that recipe, we might be able to make love in our own life, but it will get its meaning from being exclusionary. It will be precious to us because it’s rare, and we will hoard it and protect the conditions that make it such. I don’t believe that’s love. And I also don’t believe I am free until we are all free. A part of this podcast is about pushing people to build a more intimate and defined relationship with justice and to learn to see love — making love — as incomplete without it.

I’m going to share my personal recipe for love-making with you. I’ve been tweaking the recipe for 36 years. But the thing about creating love that suits you uniquely — that fills you uniquely — means making a custom recipe. So start here and explore, experiment, look like a mad scientist in the kitchen of your life until you’re in love with your own recipe.


 

Ingredients

1 lb Presence
-4oz deep listening (without formulating responses)
-4 oz learning to witness/be witnessed, without trying to fix or change
-4oz learning to rest in what is, without trying to fix or change. Accepting groundlessness…
-4oz authenticity (which I define as refusing to perform roles, expectations, labels, aspirations…)

1 lb Connection
-4oz intimacy
-4oz understanding, without agenda
-4oz eradicating the tendency to separate, disconnect, numb out, lean away
-4oz vulnerability

1 lb Justice
-4oz dislodging the automaticity of white supremacist conditioning from my relationships and
way of being in the world (for example, UNlearning perfectionism or asserting it onto others)
-4oz disentangling from power over (See above. Craving power and control is the heartbeat of white supremacy. Can I learn to put down my desire for control or my tendency to exert power? “We cannot know love if we remain unable to surrender our attachment to power.” bell hooks)
-4oz alchemizing my shame and guilt to radical love/action (Shame and guilt are forms of
oppression. They separate us from one another — and especially from ourself.)
-4oz building a practice of justice: truth telling, knowledge building, voice activation, solidarity,
love-centered work with other white people (“To know love we have to tell the truth to
ourselves and to others.” bell hooks)

100 lbs Radical Self Love (*without this, you cannot procure any of the other ingredients)
-100 lbs deep, inner work:

  • Healing my own traumas, wounds, and pain (“Healing is knowing our woundedness; it is developing an intimacy with the ways in which we suffer. Healing is learning to love the wound because love draws us into relationship with it instead of avoiding feeling the discomfort.” Lama Rod Owens)
  • Attuning to the work of not needing the love of others (“When we attempt to love out of our woundedness, then our loving is only violence.” Lama Rod Owens)
  • Learning to feel — deeply
  • Learning to be in my body — with acceptance, love, and attention
  • Chiseling away at my ego and my old stories that don’t serve me anymore and keep me from love
  • Honing a practice of courage that honors my heart’s truest, most liberated wants and needs
  • Solitude/learning to be with and for myself from a seat of love (“The difficult road is the road of conversion, the conversion from loneliness into solitude. Instead of running away from our loneliness and trying to forget or deny it, we have to protect it and turn it into fruitful solitude…Loneliness is painful; solitude is peaceful.” bell hooks)

 

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients and PRACTICE the fuck out of them, like your life, and freedom, and joy, and healing, and liberation depends on it. Because it does.
  2. Daring to define love is radical. Daring to practice it is total rebellion. Get to work and make some love.

 

 


 

3 Comments

  1. sarah lightfoot

    How Can We Make Love Here?
    I love this question.
    A version I ask myself in situations: does this move me closer to human dignity or further away (if I’m relating to others in a one-up or one-down way consciously/unconsciously, I’m moving further away). Does this move me closer to compassion or further away (If I’m judging myself or others, I’m moving further away).
    Case in point: yesterday a homeless man moved near our office door. Our boss asked us: what would you do in my situation? We talked. We asked ourselves questions holding compassion for ourselves and the man. Our obligation to be in this world (our landlord, our “safety,” our customers, etc. It was hard.

    Reply
    • Laura Brewer

      Thanks for this insight, Sarah. Your question (“does this move me closer to/further away from human dignity”) really speaks to me, too. I imagine there are so many situations for all of us that will be grey — and — I believe the habit and practice of asking a question like this one, no matter how complex the situation, will only help us illuminate the complexities and hold them with more compassion rather than to simplify or ignore them. Thank you so much for sharing.

      Reply
  2. Colleen Hall

    Laura,

    I’m really enjoying your podcast. I wanted to share a resource with you that is connected to social justice. You may ready be aware, but I thought I’d share just in case:
    1. The National SEED project with Peggy Macintosh …this week long program was transformational for me.

    2. Dr. Stevenson at Univ of Penn

    Reply

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