“You yourself, as much as anyone in the entire universe, deserves your love and affection” – Buddha
In many countries around the world, people celebrate Love in February for Valentine’s Day. The idea of celebrating love is great however, I was always puzzled about a few things. Why should we celebrate love only one day a year? What does celebrating love really mean? Is it giving or receiving gifts, planning a romantic getaway, going out to dinner or some other activities we tend to partake around Valentine’s Day? What happens the day after?
To me, celebrating love means celebrating yourself every day of your life. We always hear the cliché that you have to love yourself before you can love anyone else. Well my friends, it is true. Over the last several years I have been on a journey of self-love. I have been learning to fall in love with every part of me (even the parts I once thought to be less perfect). This is not an easy task as you have to be willing to go deep into the dark caves of your soul and face your shadows. You have to be willing to identify self-destructive patterns and have the courage to change them. It helps to have a mentor or a coach during this phase.
However, before you dive into the deep end of self-discovery, it may be helpful to start with a few simple things. Here is a technique I learned from a Kabbalist Rabbi David A. Cooper. Take a sheet of paper and divide into two parts (left/right). On the left side write down all of the activities you do through your day/week and how much time you spend doing them. On the right side write down activities that you do or would like to do that inspire or make you feel in the present moment (hiking, painting, yoga, etc). By looking at both sides of the page, see what kind of pattern is formed. Most of us we spend a lot of time on the left side of the page and the right side gets neglected. Try to see which activities you can decrease on the left and increase on the right. Try it with just one activity and notice how you will start to transform yourself and your life.
You can also practice one of my favorites, Metta loving-kindness meditation.
Metta is first practiced toward oneself. Sit in a quiet space, focus on your breath and mentally repeat the following phrases:
May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.
After a period of directing loving-kindness toward yourself, bring to mind someone you want to share this intention with. Repeat slowly the following phrases:
May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful and at ease.