Five Unconventional Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day
"Love is a state of Being.
Your love is not outside; it is deep within you.
You can never lose it, and it cannot leave you.
It is not dependent on some other body, some external form.
In the stillness of your presence, you can feel your own formless and timeless reality as the unmanifested life that animates your physical form.
You can then feel the same life deep within every other human and every other creature.
You look beyond the veil of form and separation.
This is the realization of oneness. This is love."
~ Eckhart Tolle
As you probably are well aware, today is Valentine's Day. No matter what your relationship status, here are some ideas for how to celebrate this day. From my heart to yours, wishing you a most beautiful celebration of love!
1. Practice Random Acts of Kindness
“If you're feeling low, help someone else" ~ My Dad
Valentine's Day can bring up all kinds of emotions for some of us. Luckily, we just so happen to be right in the middle of Random Acts of Kindness Week! No matter how you are feeling today, and especially if you are feeling lonely, what a perfect time to share a little kindness! Doing random acts of kindness releases a whole host of feel-good chemicals in both the doer, the receiver, and in many cases, the witnesses (if there happen to be others around). So what better way to share the love than sending some simple love note texts, paying for the person behind you in line, putting flowers on your neighbor's steps, or going for a walk with a loved one? Even the smallest gestures can create ripples of joy!
Last week's post was all about this topic so head on over there for more info.
2. Who Have You Not Yet Tried to Love?
“Revolutionary love is the call of our times." ~ Valarie Kaur
The deeply moving TED Talk by Valarie Kaur on Revolutionary Love was just released this week. Do yourself a favor and watch this. I don't want to give away too much of her talk (her stories are so powerful and awe-inspiring), and it's best to just watch the video, but one of her central questions is, "who have I not yet tried to love?"
With the current state of divisiveness, blame, scapegoating, and outright hate in America and the world, can you imagine if more people started to earnestly ask this question and approach anyone that came to mind with curiosity, openness, and wonder? Wonder is one of the core principles that Valarie says is essential for Revolutionary Love. Can we ask, what is it like to be this person that I have not yet tried to love? What is their story? What does it feel like to be them?
The Love Army, in partnership with dozens of other groups, is organizing watch parties of this talk. You can look for gatherings in your area or host your own by clicking here! You can also watch the full TED Talk here.
3. Fall in Love with Yourself
“You can search your entire life for someone more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anyone in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection." ~ Buddha
Sometimes the person many of us have not yet tried to love may actually be ourselves. Valarie Kaur says Gandhi and Dr King spoke a great deal about loving the other and loving the opponent, but she says that loving oneself "is a feminist intervention." To her, Revolutionary Love is all three: loving the other, loving the opponent, and loving oneself.
If you'd like a simple and yet beautiful practice to help you explore self-love, I invite you to read the wonderful short book by Kamal Ravikant called Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It. One central question he asked himself over and over while learning to love himself was, 'if I truly loved myself, what would I do?' What if you tried that today? Even if you don't feel very loving towards yourself, what if you asked that question over and over and lived into the answers.
Another practice you could contemplate is an expansion of the question from suggestion #1: what part of yourself have you not yet loved? I invite you to sit down, pull out your journal, and contemplate this question. And by acknowledging the tender parts of ourselves that we are ashamed of or wish to hide, we begin the work of integrating them back into ourselves so that we may become ever more whole beings capable of loving ever more fully.
As I mentioned in last week's Wonder Wednesdays blog, Feb 13th is celebrated by many as Self Love Day, so go ahead and do something special for yourself, acknowledge yourself, and give yourself a pat on the back. It can be hard being a human on the planet these days. Even in the midst of the struggle, remember that you are a beautiful being made of stardust. How magical is that??
4. Lose Your Sense of Self
“The biggest embrace of love you’ll ever make is to embrace yourself completely. Then you’ll realize you’ve just embraced the whole universe, and everything and everybody in it.” ~ Adyashanti
When I started really exploring what it means to love myself, I began to question who is this very "self" after all. As my dear friend, Daniel Schmachtenberger often says, who am I without oxygen? Not too interesting. Then who am I without the plants and bacteria and soil that produce the oxygen? And the rain and sunshine that nourish the plants? And the clouds that contain the rain and the oceans and rivers that evaporate into the clouds? And the molecules that make up all life on earth that were forged in ancient exploding stars? And the entire history of humanity that allowed us to create language and the concepts through which I am able to think and make sense of the world as I do?
As Carl Sagan famously put it, "to make an apple pie from scratch, I must first invent the universe." Every apple contains the entire universe in it. And you are no exception. The entire cosmos had to exist in order for you to exist.
One way to directly experience the loss of identifying with a separate self is through flow experiences, peak states, and what Jamie Wheal and Steven Kotler call "ecstasis." When we are so immersed in an activity that we feel as if we become the activity itself, time becomes distorted, we lose our narrator mind, and lose our sense of a separate self. It is one of the most exhilarating and liberating experiences we can have.
So, beautiful, I invite you to "lose yourself" in a flow state this Valentine's. Go for a hike, play an epic game of chess (if that's your thing), paint a picture, play boardgames, go snorkeling or sledding (depending on your climate), or do anything that lights your heart on fire. One of my favorite access points recently has been through my macro photography adventures. This rose is one of the latest treasures I discovered!
5. Take the Cosmos as Your Lover
"The great tragedy of the cosmos is that supernovas became convinced that they are just people." ~ Vadim Keyser
As you follow that logic, that Adyashanti quote starts to make more sense. By loving oneself as a facet of the cosmos uniquely manifest as you for a short bit of time, you are ultimately having a love affair with the cosmos itself.
One way to take the cosmos as your lover is by going on a Wonder Walk and allowing yourself to be fully present to the beauty all around you, the beauty from which you emerged. Here is a gif of snow melting on a red rose that I discovered on my last Wonder Walk. May we not forget the beauty that always surrounds us.
Happy Valentine's D