Love Starts Here

Love starts here –
gently placing your own hand on your heart,
feeling this breath as it arises – full or shallow –
and loving what is,
however it is,
within you.

And then, slowly, from such radical acceptance
love begins to flow again within you
and all around you
as abundant blessing
at the breakfast table, the post office,
and commuter train.

Love starts here –
tenderly cupping your own hand to your cheek
the way your mom
or someone who cared for you very deeply
used to do –
or should have done –
gently holding all that arises
without judgement,
only tenderness
and spaciousness.

Love starts here –
in this moment, this choice,
to soften, open and connect
to your breath
and your beloved,
feeling yourself finally
beginning to let go
and let love in.

And then, slowly, from such radical compassion
kindness lights a path into the dark crevices
of your inner landscape.
The stone walls around your heart
begin to crumble,
revealing a soft, tender heart
that pulses with the light of the stars
and longs to breathe and shine
its light into this hungry world.

Lisa McCrohan, © 2015

She came to therapy wanting to heal her relationship with her husband. She was tired, frustrated, and -quite frankly, she was done. After being with the same person for two decades, we have our ways of relating, arguing, and…hurting each other. We can get so absorbed in just surviving, working, making it happen for our children and spouse day in and day out that we can lose ourselves. “I don’t know who I am anymore,” she said. “I don’t know anything anymore. I feel lost and overwhelmed. I don’t know where to start.”

“Love starts here,” I gently said to her. “It starts with allowing whatever is present in this moment to be here – with kindness and attention.”

She began by noticing her feet on the earth. She noticed the warmth of her socks. She noticed the tension in her legs, the knot pulling down in her stomach, the clenching in her jaw. She noticed she was trying to get in a full breath. As she named her present-moment experience, she noticed how tired she was…then how in the tiredness, there was sadness.

I asked her if she noticed how she instinctively put her hands to her cheeks and face – gently rubbing her face and then neck – it was a way of offering herself comfort. Her body knows what to do. And she was honoring her body’s wisdom. “Love starts here,” I said, “It starts with just what you have done – noticing what’s here…the sensations, the thoughts, the emotions – the unknowning, the confusion, the tightness in the body…and holding space for them to be seen. And then watching how your body instinctively is drawn to offer yourself comfort.”

“Can you feel that comfort?” I asked her.

“Yes,” she said. And she softly began to cry. As some tears came, she didn’t try to wipe them away or stop them. She now had her hand gently cupping her cheek. I didn’t interrupt her tears, trying to make them better or analyze them. We just HELD SPACE.

“My mom,” she began, “used to tuck me into bed at night when I was little. She always kissed me on the forehead and cupped her hand around my cheek. I always felt so warm when she did this – like her hand was still on my cheek and her kiss was still on my forehead after she left the room.”


“Like you are doing now,” I said, “With your own hand on your own cheek.”

“Yes,” she said. “Just like this.”

We created the space to “take in” this comfort, for her to allow her body to do what it knew it needed to do. And in “holding space” in this skillful way, she was remembering that she KNOWS what to do. She and her body instinctively know where to start. She knows how to tend to the “overwhelm.” She knows what she likes and what she doesn’t like, she knows what is comforting and what is not comforting. She was remembering this and accessing this once again.

Over the course of several sessions, she came to see how love HAD to start here – loving her own self by allowing “what is” to be here…with tenderness and compassion. She came to experience that THIS IS how love feels – spacious, holy, authentic, and so very tender. She came to believe in the true power of things like “gentleness” and “creating space” and “honoring” that enabled her to soften, open and connect – STARTING WITH HER OWN BREATH and her own moment-to-moment experience. AND THEN…it organically flowed from her to her beloved. She opened to her beloved. She could truly SEE her beloved again. She could let go of things she no longer needed to carry. She could name what she needed. And she could let love in.

Yes, the stone walls around her heart that were built over time began to crumble – revealing her tender, pulsing, powerful heart. And over time, I saw how she let that heart of hers breathe and shine its light for this “hungry world”, as my poem says. This hungry world that longs for compassion, that longs to know how love feels, that longs to know where love starts.


Love starts here. “Tenderly cupping your own hand to your cheek the way your mom or someone who cared for you deeply used to do – or should have done.”

Love starts here. “In this moment, this choice, to soften, open and connect to your breath and your beloved, feeling yourself finally beginning to let go and let love in.”


Family, friends, clients, readers: People often come to me in Compassion Coaching or psychotherapy feeling overwhelmed, unsure, lost….and wanting to feel alive again, wanting to connect to what really matters…and wanting to know HOW. How do I connect? How do I love again – my own self, my life, my partner?

LOVE HAS TO START HERE – in this moment, this choice, this moment-to-moment experience. It has to start with PAUSING. It has to start with tenderly SEEING and “holding space” for what is here – within you AND within your partner and children.


Additional Resources:

Tracy Ann Brooks, the author of Soul Beckons on Facebook, shares such beautiful messages of “listening within” and honoring how love starts in this very moment.

Meghan Nathanson lives what she writes. Just reading her reflections, I come into stillness. I recommend her writings and her facebook page because Meghan knows where “love starts” – she knows that by connecting to her breath, by honoring her body’s innate wisdom, and by deeply SEEING, this is where love begins, flows and deepens.  Find out about her here.
And her facebook page.

You can find such nourishing meditations on my shop. Relax and be guided by these gentle meditations.


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