Like the Beatles, do you believe love is all we need? You can count Raphael Cushnir among the believers. He is an emotional and present moment awareness coach whose heart opened after a profound experience of grief.
Today, Cushnir coaches people from all walks of life on the spiritual practice of love. He’s written six books, all sourced from a moment in which he decided to stop turning away from pain and embrace it as an opportunity to “wake up.”
Cushnir shared his advice with Esalen’s Christine Chen on practicing love for freedom and authenticity in your life. Cushnir’s upcoming workshop on campus is called: Setting Your Heart on Fire, A Passionate Practice to Liberate Your Life, June 25-27, 2021.
Christine Chen: What does it mean to live with love?
Raphael Cushnir: The wisdom of mind and body connect, converge and complete at the heart. There we have access to our greatest power, purpose, connection and joy. When we learn how to quickly and effectively tune into the heart, especially when it's most difficult, it's then possible to live in alignment with love.
CC: Are we capable of falling in love with every moment?
RC: Falling in love with every moment means loving them with radical acceptance, inclusion and attunement, even when we don't like or want what's happening. This yes to life, and to all experience doesn't mean we're stuck or victimized by it. To the contrary, this kind of love is what allows and fosters the greatest possible change, whether that's in regard to our inner experience or to anything "out there" regarding the state of the world.
CC: Does love heal all? How?
RC: Love does indeed heal all, because it makes whole what has been previously hurt, torn, repressed or denied. This refers to the personal, social and natural realms. But...it's important to stress that healing doesn't always mean that the person or situation gets better. Sometimes things need to evolve, or even pass away, in order for the greater life force to continue expressing. Therefore, someone might experience an amazing healing into wholeness by aligning with love, even if they are not able to overcome their actual disease.
CC: You offer something called “inner surfing” as a practice and a way into the heart. Can you explain?
RC: Surfing in the ocean involves two things moving in exquisite union - the surfer on the board, and the wave beneath. Surfing in the body is similar, but your attention is the surfer, and the wave is the present moment emotional sensation in your body. We use this approach especially with difficult or painful emotions. If you're able to ride such an emotion like a wave, this allows it to be felt in the exact way it needs to in order to release within just a few minutes. It's important to note that you can't surf a wave from the shore. Meaning: traditional mindfulness from a distance won't allow the process to succeed. You need to bring your attention all the way to the place in the body where sensation is greatest. It's an engaged, relaxed, surrender to the wave that creates a great ride and brings you to your "inner shore," which is a place of renewed, expanded, peaceful presence.