There are all kinds of love. We know this deep down, but on Valentine's Day we think of giving and receiving jewelry, chocolate and flowers to and from our romantic partners. What if Valentine's Day was about love for your pets, for your kids, for your parents and grandparents, for your friends and even for strangers? What if it was a day to greet people with a smile and spread your love? I used to think Valentine's Day had to be about romantic love. I was a late bloomer in the dating world and I spent many a Valentine's Day watching girls and women receive heart shaped balloons and red roses, always wishing I could be one of them. What I came to realize - much later - in fact, recently - is that I was looking at love from a place of scarcity. What I failed to notice is that love was surrounding me; I just didn't see it. If you look with an open heart and a perspective of abundance, you may notice that love is all around.
We yogis often refer to backbends as heart opening postures. Yet from an anatomical perspective, the heart doesn't actually open - if it did there would be dire consequences. So what is the 'opening' that we feel? Being rather tight in the backbending position, I feel like I'm chasing rainbows as I attempt to feel my heart opening. But I have felt a release of tension in the upper back that allows me to stand taller and breathe easier. I have felt less tightness across the pectoral muscles, like there's more breadth to my front body. I've felt a little more range of motion in the shoulders and upper arms. The release of tension and tightness in these areas that surround the heart feels a bit like the heart opening from the front. The easier inhale feels like the heart has opened its front doors. It even feels a little bit like the heart has exposed itself to the world in a desire to give and to receive. So what if Valentine's Day was a celebration of just this - the heart's ability to 'open'?
For some reason, our nature is to look at what we don't have, perhaps so that we can search for more of it. Maybe that's a survival mechanism. In any case, we have to work to develop a perspective of abundance. Like yoga, this work is a practice. Artists through the centuries speak of love being all around. And yet it can be hard to feel it. Perhaps the missing piece is the action of accepting it. If love is there, then all we need to do is reach out and grab it. And there's another side - we also need to reach out and give it. Think of prana. In yoga class, you observe your prana being shared with that of others. Moving with your breath and with others makes it easy to notice. This prana sharing makes you one with your fellow students. Now, prana is easier to accept than love; and it's also easier to give. And when we don't feel like we're getting love, we don't want to give it. Giving and accepting love may take some practice; but if we all do it, then certainly love is all around. The artists are right. All you need is love. Reach out and touch somebody's hand. I'll be there. Stand by me. Love will keep us together.