As Valentine’s Day approaches, I find myself thinking about the meaning of love and relationships even more than usual. We often think, and Hallmark might encourage us to believe, that love is something that exists only in relationship and between people. In reality, love is an expression and an extension of an inner state of being. When you realize this, something awesome happens. You realize that love is something that can be cultivated within yourself and is not dependent on another person. Once you cultivate it, you can create greater levels of love and
happiness in your life and see more love reflected back to you.
There are many practices that help us open our heart, from practicing gratitude, to practicing forgiveness (especially radical forgiveness) to practicing compassion and self-compassion. This Valentine’s Day, whether you have a partner or not, I encourage you to take some time to yourself to grow and cultivate your own ability to love. Your heart is a muscle, so make it work to help it grow!
Take stock of what’s in your heart.
In a journal or on a piece of paper, answer the following questions:
• What is true for you?
• What do you love and value?
• Is your heart in the work you are doing?
• Is your heart in the right place?
• Are you living a life that you love?
There are no wrong answers. This is simply a practice to get more in touch with what’s in your heart and to become aware of who you are and what you have to give.
Make a list: “Things That Delight Me.”
This morning I found a list I’d written awhile ago entitled “Things That Delight Me.” With each item on the list, I found my heart opening and a smile bubbling up to my lips. I realized how true the adage is that “what we put our attention on grows.” I’ll include mine at the end, just because doing so would delight me.
Do the things on your list.
As one of my favorite people and teachers, Elena Panova, recently said to a classmate in her great/adorable/amazing Russian accent: “I can help you, but I cannot do all the thing.”
Being in relationship is not about finding another to “do the thing.” It is about sharing yourself with another. When you share yourself, you must do the things that make you who you are.
Love starts with you. Take stock, make a list, and “do all the thing.” This Valentine’s Day, cultivate love and see what happens when you shift the focus to yourself.
Things that delight me…
Working from my bed on a raining morning
When a horse walks directly up to me
Talking with little kids about their perspective on life.
Playing games with kids
Learning about people who think so differently than I do–i.e. men, from the source
Losing track of time
Making chocolates, cupcakes, and other cute desserts
Making treats for gatherings and surprising the group with them
The perfectly timed glass of wine.
Reading a good book
Lauren Korshak is a San Francisco-based Dating & Relationship Coach, Marriage and Family Therapist, and professional connector (and former matchmaker). She has a BA in Psychology from USC and an MA in Somatic Psychology from California Institute of Integral Studies. In her free time, Lauren can be found dancing, meditating, adventuring outdoors, making music, and spending QT with loved ones.