When you think of Valentine’s Day, you probably think in terms of romance, but there’s so much more to love than romance. There’s love of self, love of others, and love of life.
LOVE OF SELF
Self-love is not selfish love. It doesn’t mean indulging in material desires or putting yourself above others. It’s more about mindfulness. It’s about taking the time to know yourself — not how others may perceive you, but how you perceive yourself. It’s understanding the difference between your wants and needs, and forgiving yourself for your imperfections. Then it becomes about living life with purpose. It’s about honoring yourself enough to live a meaningful life. No matter what else you do on Valentine’s Day, let it be the beginning of more mindful living.
Create a comfortable space where you can be alone and meditate.In the morning, do some deep breathing exercises and be mindful of your intentions for the day.Before turning in for the night, do some more deep breathing. Cleanse yourself of the worries of the day so you can sleep peacefully.
Love of self strengthens and sustains, making it easier to love others and to love life.
“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” -Buddha
LOVE OF OTHERS
Take a good, long look at your relationships. Is there someone who needs your attention? Let Valentine’s Day be the springboard to renew that relationship. Remind yourself why this person was in your life in the first place. If the relationship was strained, let this be a day to forgive, to heal, and to move on.
Give something of yourself to others. Do it out of kindness, with no expectation of thanks or reward. Let the act of kindness speak for itself.
Visit your grandparents or an elderly neighbor who may be lonely.Visit your local animal shelter and give some attention to lonely pets.Donate blood. Blood supplies can be strained in winter, but the need for blood continues. Each donation can save up to three lives. It truly is the gift of life.Search for a local charity that could use your help. Let Valentine’s Day be the beginning of a year of giving. Let it become a habit.Perform at least one random act of kindness, however small. It can be as simple as holding the door for someone, even though you’re in a hurry. That someone may be inspired to pay it forward.
Take a few minutes each day to think about others. Consider those who enrich your life, as well as those whose lives are enriched by you.
“You never lose by loving. You always lose by holding back.” -Barbara de Angelis
LOVE OF LIFE
Life is a precious gift. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the business of everyday life, ignoring the deeper meaning and purpose of our journey. Let Valentine’s Day be about love of life itself.
This Valentine’s Day, a grateful California couple will be hosting a party called, “Dancing through the Decades: A Valentine's Day and Wedding Anniversary Party.” This very special party is meant as a celebration of life. Randy Peyser, breast cancer survivor and author of "The Power of Miracle Thinking" and "Crappy to Happy” (featured in the movie, "Eat Pray Love”), shares the story with Natural Choice Network.
“Pat has cancer. She knows her days are numbered. She and her husband of 39 years are hosting a celebration for her life while she is alive. It’s an opportunity for all who know her to shower her with love and celebrate a beautiful life and love.” The invitation calls for guests to bring a scrapbook page filled with photos or messages about the couple. They will celebrate life and show appreciation for their time together.
This particular celebration pays tribute to love of self, love of others, and love of life. No doubt, those in attendance will come away with a fresh perspective on their own lives.
“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.” -Benjamin Franklin
Sharon Janis, author of “Spirituality for Dummies,” offers this contemplation exercise from the ancient scriptures of Kashmir Shaivism.
“The method of this contemplation is to separate the experience of love from the object of love,” said Ms. Janis. “This doesn't dismiss or diminish the object of your love, but helps you to expand the experience of individual love into a bigger circle of lovingness, and ultimately a divine love that encompasses everything all at once.”
Sit in a peaceful posture and close your eyes. Think of something or someone you deeply love, whether it is your parent, child, pet, friend, or other person, place, or thing.Visualize and focus on that loved object, remembering moments when you experienced love in their presence. Allow all the feelings of love to build and surge like waves of love in your mind, heart, and soul.Now move your focus away from the person, place, or thing that has brought forth all these feelings of love, and focus on the feeling of love itself. Note how it feels in your body; notice how your thoughts may be feeling calm in some ways, perhaps passionate in others. Maybe you are feeling certain energies in your heart area, where the heart chakra energy center is said to reside. Feel the LOVE, undefined and unlimited.Now open your eyes and look around you. Allow yourself to see things in a new light. Shine your feeling of love upon whatever comes before you, whether physically or in thoughts. Practice keeping that feeling of love as you go through your day, walk outside, check social media, or speak with friends and others.
Janis has another tip: “Love is also nourished by feeling gratitude for all the blessings in your life!”
You know that feeling of awe when you stand in front of the ocean, catch a colorful sunset, or gaze upon a majestic landscape? That’s the earth’s gentle reminder to live a mindful life. May you have a loving and mindful Valentine’s Day.
Ann Pietrangelo is the author of "No More Secs!" and “Catch That Look,” a freelance writer, and a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors.