Let’s talk about love! There is a spiritual love phenomenon called Amigeist, a term coined by Dr. Jeffery Sundberg (2019). Broken down, ami is Latin for love and geist is German for spirit. In the field of Transpersonal Psychology, focus and interest is in human experience, particularly human spiritual experience. So, how is love a spiritual experience? In other words, what is it like to experience love in a way that is self-expanding, all-encompassing, and that makes a significantly transformative, meaningful impact on your life?
A spiritual love experience
Amigeist is the topic of my PhD dissertation research, and I’m specifically studying the experience in emerging adults. While I won’t get into the intricacies of my study, something notable is that I often refer to this experience broadly as intense, extreme love. Implications of intense, extreme love vary for individuals. Some may associate intensity with toxicity, while others feel it as euphoric. Intensity can be passion and excitement or grounding and calming. What does intense, extreme love mean to you?
Amigeist is a newly defined concept, and so far it has been examined in the context of romantic partnership. This type of love is distinguishable from infatuation, lust, and limerence. Infatuation is passionate in its own way, but usually short-lived and surface-level. Think band groupies or bedroom posters of teen idols. Lust is rooted in pure sexual attraction. You can be sexually attracted to someone without having any sort of deeper romantic feelings or affiliation with them. Limerence is slightly more complex. Those who feel love as limerence usually possess up to all 7 of the following characteristics developed by Tennov (1979).
Idealizing is only seeing how amazing someone is while ignoring or making excuses for their flaws. Unrequited is the sense that “you’re just not good for each other.” Think Romeo and Juliet. Having inescapable and/or intrusive thoughts about your lover are 2 other characteristics. Involuntary or unintentional thoughts about your lover is to, for example, fantasize about your life together and the reciprocity of love between you. And finally, fear of rejection and obsession. Think of the jealousy and paranoia of going through a lover’s phone or needing to know their whereabouts at all times. Limerence can easily disrupt your life, and in many cases becomes unhealthy or toxic.
From his findings, Sundberg (2019) identified these main qualities of amigeist in his population of people over the age of 30: dynamic connection, intense emotions, state of mind or change in thoughts, new behavior, impact and high value of the experience, and extraordinary nature of the extreme love experience. Intense, spiritual love has deep and multidimensional connection, life- or perspective-shifting impact from this unique experience and the personal growth potential that comes from it.
You may have noticed that limerence has some qualities that imply insecurity, anxiousness, and possibly even low self-worth. Part of this mentality is the belief that you and your partner are 2 halves who become whole. You need them to complete you and help you define who you are. This to me, is a major contrast to amigeist. With amigeist, the person who experiences it has a strong sense of self, yet moderately comfortable with and open to continuous growth. Instead, they understand themselves and their lover to be 2 separate entities uniting. That is self-expansion. (The researcher Aron is a great reference for more about self-expansion.)
Love beyond romance
With a grasp of the term amigeist and the spiritual experience of love, let’s add some depth and width. I am a firm believer that this experience can be felt with anyone or generally anything and is not limited to romantic partnerships. While it is a unique experience, I think it’s absolutely possible to feel it multiple times with multiple people. As you change, the experience may develop as well.
We fall in love with other people who are in love in the media, and many of us set a goal to find a life-long companion in order to feel true fulfillment and happiness. We look to horoscopes for compatible lovers. Talking about love in a general sense outside of its societal portrayals and expectations is important because it has become increasingly obvious that we need more of it.
Worst of all, we learn to hate love or avoid it because of the vulnerable positions it puts us in and the spell it casts. Proceed with caution or else you’re risking pain, loss, and destruction from heartbreak. I’m all for acknowledging the shadows of love, but we are depriving ourselves of something so much bigger.
So, of course we feel love in multiple relationships, familial, friendships, pets, etc., but how often do you tap into it in nature and in daily practice? There are many ways to attract love into your life. You can attract love into your life by greeting the sun each morning! Another way is committing to self-healing. This may take form through working with your chakras, setting intentions through ceremony, owning your independence, and expressing creativity. You could choose to focus on cultivating skills like compassion, trust, and communication. To me, love is also noticing with gratitude simplicities in the world, perhaps with a beginner’s mind.
My favorite example of noticing love in nature is when I was in Bali. Individual ants marching in parallel lines appeared to kiss each colony member across from them like opposing teams shaking hands post-game. Love is in the way a bee collects nectar from flowers and transforms it into honey. Some people like to find heart-shapes in everything from clouds to potato chips like the one below. I don’t normally eat potato chips, but the one I pulled from the bag was a heart! Love is in synchronicity.
I think many of us unconsciously or maybe consciously operate under a veil that keeps us from experiencing love like we would animism. As cliche as it may sound, love is all around! Immediately the song from Love Actually comes to mind “I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes…”
General, “big” love to me is energy. As I dabble lightly in quantum physics, I imagine the atoms and unseen particles that comprise of the entire multi-verse as love in its purest form. When we have consciousness awakening experiences like sensations of timelessness and oneness, or simply experience moments of acute, intuitive awareness of our existence, I believe we are closer to accessing that quantum or energetic vibration. Experiencing other realms through dreaming or connecting with spirits may bring us closer. Without going on a complete tangent, this is what I think we return to in death. I’m pretty certain we are not capable of fully understanding existence, but I’d argue that vibrations of love are our purest form.
Spiritual love is something we may experience with other people and beings, but it is also something available to us even in the most cruel or mundane situations. I hope presenting love as a philosophical concept has not deterred you. It is my intention that you rethink love in way that is inspiring, connective, and evokes the magic and invigoration of living life.
Go live fluently in love! If you like this page, please share it.