I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day in its usual incarnation — the flowers, the chocolates, the unfortunate unreachable expectations — but beyond the messages and dominance of the greeting card gods, I do believe this day holds great potential.
Much like how Thanksgiving allows us to express gratitude for all we receive, here's a day focused on love, which provides us the opportunity to understand the softness of our own hearts.
In this spirit, here are nine steps to cultivating, perceiving, and receiving more love this Valentine’s Day:
1. Find your awe.
The sensations of awe and wonder are housed not in the mind, but in the heart, and they emanate from there throughout the body and into our surrounding community. We need awe like a plant needs sunshine, because it serves as the fuel with which we maintain our curiosity, verve and passion for life, no matter what our age. It keeps our hearts and minds open. Try spending some time thinking about the vastness of everything, looking at your own eyeball in the mirror, or type in "awe" into YouTube and set aside a few minutes to visually explore the phenomenon that is our planet.
2. Love your heart.
Cultivating a sense of love must include our physical body, and our heart is an area that often doesn’t get supported until very specific conditions show up later in life. Try a hawthorn berry tincture and a good-quality fish-oil to give your physical heart a boost, getting it ready for the rapid influx of love that’s going to be coming your way.
3. Express gratitude.
Actively training our mind to see the good in life results in more of it. There's always something to be grateful for.
4. Express you.
Whether that means dancing, singing, making art or cooking a beautiful meal, find some way to get yourself — your innate, beautiful, perfect, creative and unique self — out into the world today. This is the highest expression of self love, as you're saying that what's held within you is fantastic, and deserves to be let out.
5. Do something randomly kind.
It might seem small, but try experimenting with the possibility of a random kind act today, then notice how your body and mind respond afterward. Buy a stranger a coffee, give the biggest smile you can muster to someone on the street, or dedicate your day to telling people all the good you see in them. We can only receive what we give.
Our brain and body don't discriminate between what we see in "real" life and what we imagine. Within this fact is the magic of visualization. Imagine there's a light within your heart, and that with every inhale you are able to make that light brighter, warmer, and more unwavering, and just see how that feels. Just FYI: my Shamanic teacher informed me recently that at some point humans are going to start being bioluminescent (walking, talking glowworms, basically), so if this starts happening while you’re practicing this please email me, because I really want to see it.
7. Hug a tree.
It might be a very icy and cold tree right about now, but you could find a houseplant if you prefer that. The point is to actively cultivate a sense of connection and love for something that might not immediately give it back to you, though you're receiving that gift in the form of oxygen, food and environment in every moment.
8. Seek out beauty.
Depending on your particular aesthetic, this may take the form of a poem, a song, a piece of art, or that houseplant you accosted a minute ago. The heart seeks beauty, while the brain seeks reason, and while the brain is great for many things, when it comes to love it really has no idea. Invigorate the heart by actively seeking that which you seek for its beauty alone.
9. Touch someone.
Wow, that sounds both hilarious and creepy, sorry. But all jokes aside, the act of making physical contact with another being (I’m afraid your houseplant won’t quite cut it for this one) does miraculous things for both your well-being and theirs. Just please make sure the affection is welcome!