Valentine’s Day is traditionally associated with romantic love.
Yet love isn’t bound by romance. Love has many facets. Whether you’re in a relationship or not, Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to celebrate love in all its forms.
This might be close friendships, family relationships or belonging to a community. It could be a connection to your work or passion. Maybe it’s places, experiences, sensations. Moments that lift you out of the ordinary and bring self-discovery and connection. Whatever it may be, it’s all about attuning to what brings you joy and makes you feel alive.
The more broadly we connect with these different aspects of love, the wider the benefits.
The benefits of positive emotions
Love is one of the most powerful feelings we can experience. It brings us happiness and fulfilment in a way that nothing else does.
Positive emotions such as love and joy have a huge effect on our wellbeing. They help to bolster our physical health and immunity. They are a wonderful resource when we’re feeling sad or low, helping to buffer against stress and reduce depressive symptoms. And they increase our emotional resilience and support life satisfaction.
The things we love nourish us. They shape us. They bring contentment, replenish our bodies and expand our hearts and minds. Sometimes they challenge and teach us, helping us to grow. They create meaning within the mundane.
Each of the things we love offers us something unique. One may bring feelings of pleasure, another of beauty, closeness, excitement, compassion and so on. There may be a blend of many qualities. Cultivating all the forms of love in our lives helps us to appreciate the varied gifts it holds. The more multi-faceted our relationship to love, the richer our lives and the greater the joys.
Reflections on love
This mindfulness journaling exercise is a great way to connect with feelings of love.
- Create two columns on a sheet of paper. In the left column, make a list of all the things that you love. Take your time and think widely. Try to include even the smallest things.
- ·Look at the items on your list. Think about the qualities of the love you feel for each one. In the right column, next to each item, write down any associated words, images or feelings. Defining these qualities helps us to understand the different aspects of what love means for us.
- Choose one of the things you love from your list. Close your eyes and visualise it. Feel the special qualities connected to it. Notice how your body feels when you do this. What sensations are there? Where do you feel them? Sit with the feeling and allow the sensation of love to radiate inside you. Try repeating this practice with different things on your list. Observe the subtle differences in the feelings you experience.
- Make a commitment to connect with one or more of the things you love every day. If you’re not able to connect with it physically, simply hold it in your mind and heart for a few moments, as in the exercise above. Even just thinking about something that we love has powerful benefits for body and mind.
- Re-read your list regularly and keep adding to it. It’s good to place the list somewhere you can see it every day. Over time, this practice helps us to be more aware of the things we love and to truly appreciate them.