Here we find ourselves AGAIN facing yet another Valentine’s Day…this one in the fresh dawn of 2017. For some of you in the throes of a new and exciting love affair, this is probably a day you’re looking forward to and anticipating with fantasies of romantic dinners, red roses, and chocolates in a heart-shaped box.
For those of you who have experienced a break-up, divorce, or physical loss of a partner, this is probably a day you’d rather wish wasn’t popping up before you. You most likely feel dread at facing this Hallmark ‘day of love’ and are white-knuckling it until it’s over and done with for another year.
If you are single and couldn’t give a whoop about finding ‘that special someone’ and are annoyed that another person is writing about Valentine’s Day, you’ve probably already stopped reading this article…don’t worry. I get it. No feelings hurt this end.
Regardless of where you happen to be on the love/hate continuum of this yearly event, I know that for most of my clients, this day brings up a lot emotionally and often leads them to question the whole concept of love, healthy relationships, and what it means to be loving. Along these lines, I’ve previously written about this day by exploring the concept of self-love, and most recently, self-compassion.
Since our neighbours to the South have acquired a full-blown narcissist as their country’s leader who appears to be completely love-less, along with other ghastly world events representing the deep forgetfulness of entire nations of what it means to be compassionate and loving towards our fellow beings, I feel the strong need to focus this little piece on Valentine’s Day on sending love out to the world. This is, in the Buddhist tradition, the final step in the Loving Kindness Meditation (referred to from here on as “LKM”).
The LKM is a tool I use nearly every day personally to detach and find peace and kind-heartedness within the contexts of challenging situations I face. It’s also something I teach my clients if they are having a hard time letting go of resentment and anger and they find themselves suffering greatly as a result. I have yet to find anything as simple yet effective to shift out of a state of angst/worry/anger to a blessed state of loving detachment, relaxation, and deep peace.
I have explored many different versions of the LKM and believe me, there are many wonderful ones out there for you to try. In fact, you can pretty much substitute any words that feel most meaningful to you into it with fantastic results. I strongly urge you to give the LKM a try- and not just once. Try using it in all of it’s endless variations- when you’re being hard on yourself or someone else, when you find yourself judging yourself or anyone else, or when you are feeling completely distraught and disheartened by world events. In the theme of this article, I suggest focusing on the latter- praying for our world and everyone in it. I really feel that the world needs all the love and compassion we have to offer right now.
For a quick overview, this is how the LKM works:
Firstly, you focus on yourself as an individual (i.e. self-love and self-compassion)
Secondly, you focus on another person you are having a hard time with (i.e. your “Valentine” in 2017 or someone else you need to send love and compassion to)
And finally, you focus on sending love and compassion to the entire Universe (i.e. what I’m urging you to do right after you finish reading this)
I have found that you need to cover all three aspects when you practice the LKM: you, another, and the entire world/Universe. I’m guessing that this tradition has been around for thousands of years for a very good reason- it works! And if you know anything about the Dalai Lama and his attitude towards what has been done to his people for most of his life, you will definitely be curious about trying this method. If he isn’t one of the most peaceful, loving and kind people who has ever walked the planet, I don’t know who is.
So for this Valentine’s Day, I invite you to try the Loving Kindness Meditation and see what effect it has on you. Here is the version I use:
Loving Kindness Meditation
May I be happy
May I be healthy
May I be peaceful
May I be full of loving kindness
May you be happy
May you be healthy
May you be peaceful
May you be full of loving kindness
May the whole world be happy
May the whole world be healthy
May the whole world be peaceful
May the whole world full of loving kindness