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Why is the heart associated with love? I was considering this question during a difficult sequence in yoga and it suddenly popped into my head that the heart is always there for you. Since the moment you were born it has never taken a break. Whether you were having a good day or a bad day, relaxing or pushing your body to the limits of your physical endurance, it has never given up on you.

When a lot of us think of love what we are really thinking of is passion or infatuation. It burns brightly like a shooting star only to quickly fade away. True love, the kind of love that nourishes, supports, and helps the other grow spiritually and emotionally is unconditional and unceasing. It pulses gently and you know you can always count on it. The Ancient Greeks called this kind of love Agape. We usually think of it as God’s love or a mother’s love, and it’s a tremendous gift both for the person who receives it and for the person who can give it.

Studies have consistently shown that outcomes for at risk youth improve dramatically when they have one person in their life who believes in them unconditionally and supports them through thick and thin. It doesn’t take a hundred people, or twenty people, or five people. It just takes one person to love you for you. I find this fact amazing and it reminds me how important it is for all of us to have a source of unconditional love in our lives, a person who cares for us no matter what and loves us for who we are rather than what we do.

Imagine how the world would change if each of us decided to be a heart for one extra person. Especially for those in the helping fields like teachers and counselors, it’s essential to recognize the tremendous effect we can have on a life solely through showing our unconditional support, believing in the other’s potential and their best qualities, and staying in their corner even when times get tough. Your physical body can’t survive without the presence of your beating heart, and I like the symbolic parallel that your spiritual self can’t survive for long either unless it is nourished by the beating heart of love.