“The way to know life is to love many things.” Vincent Van Gogh
It is safe to say that Valentine’s Day is a loaded gun – for as many people truly get to celebrate the love they share with their intimate relations, there are at least as many who struggle with feeling unloved and worse still unlovable. Our collective sense of being unlovable might well be the single most toxic belief that our culture suffers. We buy into the narrow, exclusive concepts and images that bind love with romance, but never reflect the power of what real love can do. As we search for the holy grail of what love is supposed to look like, we miss all the many ways that we are all loved deeply.
It begins with the idea that love is only true or real when it is reciprocal. We get stuck in the dead end of believing that if we love someone and that love is not returned to us, it is lost, or worse still, shameful. It confines love to the exchange between people and ignores the fact that love is an energy that lives inside of each of us with or without the exchange. We are never taught to tap into the energy of loving awareness that we all carry with us as our birthright.
Tragically, this lack of awareness that love is not something given or received from outside of us, but rather something that we wake up to inside of us, we never learn how to love ourselves. We spend years stuck on the imperfection of some body part, allowing the flaws of our character or courage to define us. We miss how lovable we are and we refuse the love that is coming to us, because it resembles the imperfections we see in ourselves.
Take this Valentine’s Day and wipe the slate clean of everything you thought you knew about love and being loved. Begin with a simple practice of learning to feel the seed of love that lives in you. Remember a moment when you felt love – think of any place in nature where you felt centered, at home. Or think of a time when you laughed freely with someone, even a stranger, or when you noticed someone on the street and you felt tenderness. All of these moments are experiences of love. They are everywhere around us if you look for them. Don’t take anything for granted as you create this new filter of love. Take breathing for instance – can you imagine that the air around you is loving you? Experience light as loving presence – can you imagine the sun shining into you is love?
This is a radical approach to love. It will change everything you see if you let it. When you begin, be prepared for your ego to fight this easy love. But if you can go with it for a few days, just suspend your disbelief long enough to feel the love coming towards you, surrounding you, it will be enough to change course. Life will lighten up, your heart will open up and gratitude will replace grief and cynicism.
In fact, once you start to realize how many times in a day that your ability to feel love gets activated, gratitude is the only reasonable response. Become responsible to and for this filter of love. Make your relationship to witnessing it and cultivating this healing awareness the most important part of your day. You will feel loved. You will know how loveable you are. You will be able to love anything or anyone that you want freely, because love will not be an exchange any more, it will just be the life force that lives in you. This could be the best Valentine’s Day of your life!