Meditations on the true nature of love.
We’re all looking for love in all the wrong places, according to Chen (Door to Inner Voice, 2015). In this book, she writes that she used to wonder why she was “always starving for love” and playing “the role of deserted woman,” so she looked inward and discovered that she needed to learn to love herself before she could find love with another. She shares her resulting insights in this brief volume. “All of your troubles will evaporate at once,” she explains, “if you allow self-love to heal that broken piece of your heart and restore the healthy version of yourself.” Her process of self-love starts with meditation, which she outlines in the first two chapters. Specifically, she urges readers to practice both static and dynamic meditation, although she doesn’t clearly explain the difference between the two practices or how to engage in them. She also discusses how to recognize signs of low self-esteem that can cause one to seek out unhealthy, unbalanced romantic relationships. The book’s latter half consists of notable quotes on love from Mother Teresa, St. Francis of Assisi, Zora Neale Hurston, Lao Tzu, and others, followed by Chen’s analysis. Throughout, she offers the sensible message that if a person can’t nurture and care for a healthy self, he or she will never be able to develop a healthy romantic relationship. However, its emphasis on karmic debt and the law of attraction is troubling; statements such as, “If someone mistreats you or hurt you badly…somewhere and sometime in the past you have done something wrong to that person” and “We all get the love that we deserve” seem dangerously close to rationalizing abuse and victim blaming. Some awkward phrasing may also trip up readers, such as, “Something that defines self is the key for the love to pierce through the hurdles of our days and years and remain long lasting.”
An uneven self-help book that still offers a solid starting point for those trying to discover why romantic happiness eludes them.