Ahhh... Valentine's Day. It's the day where we hand out Valentine cards, buy lots of chocolate, and send flowers. In a newer relationship, we panic about what is the right thing to buy/give to show the right amount of our affection. Is the gift enough to say I really really like you or is the gift too much too soon, maybe sending messages of love and commitment we aren't ready to express? If love is why we are here, if love is our purpose, our true essence, and our natural state of being, why have we made it this hard?
A couple years ago for my Valentine's class, I brought in chocolate heart shaped candy. I didn't do that this year. This year, I brought in something much bigger and much longer lasting. It is something you can accept and take home with you and keep forever. It is also something you may choose to reject if you are not ready for it. In that case, however, I ask you to leave it behind to be recycled into the earth for others. This time, I brought in love.
Close your eyes for a moment and feel what love feels like. Imagine a hug wrapping its way around you. A warmth pervading your senses with a sense of protection. Because love feels protecting, right? Why does it? Love seems to let us know we are accepted. We are okay just the way we are. And under that awning, there is no room for fear or inadequacies. Love will hold our hand and allow us to stretch out as far as we want to fill our space to its highest potential.
So even though it is Valentine's Day, a day of expressing outward affection for others, our practice should be to focus on loving ourselves. We've all heard the numerous quotes touting 'you cannot love someone else until you love yourself'. And maybe we read that and nod our heads in affirmation. But then why do we struggle with doing it, with loving ourselves?
Alan Cohen was once on the radio giving advice to a caller who said she was working very hard on loving herself. And Alan said something like stop working. He said if I were to tell you that the place where you love yourself already exists within you, it will no longer become work. It then becomes a place to go to.
Ahhh. So much easier.
Sufi poet Rumi wrote, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” Rumi is also telling us, from thousands of years ago (!), that our self love is a place within that never leaves us.
If you are frustrated with yourself, mentally or physically, I want you to see that as little. Love is BIG. If your ego voice is chastising you for making a poor decision, I want you to notice how that voice is little. How love is BIG. If you are feeling inadequate tonight on the mat because your poses aren't good enough, you can yell that as loud as you want. But I will yell back at you louder your poses are good enough for me, why not for you? In fact, your poses are perfect for your body tonight. Because love is LOUDER. If you are feeling lonely and Valentine's Day depresses you, understand loneliness is temporary. And being alone, quite a different word, can be a great thing. It may even give you the time you need to seek out the place inside I was telling you about where you always have love for yourself...and that love is HUGE.