With the celebration of Valentine’s day this month, I have spent a bit of time reflecting on the various ways I live from my heart. How do you offer and receive love? We all have many opportunities every day to make small choices to amplify love.
I believe a person cannot love another beyond their level of self-love. It is important to love ourselves unconditionally. Sure, there are choices I make that are less than stellar. I do my best to stop behaving badly as soon as I notice. I take a deep breath, center and ground myself, apologize if I need to, and move on. That event has a beginning, middle and end. It takes me out of the present moment if I ruminate about it later. I am continuously learning to forgive and let it go. If I can do that for myself, I can do it for another when the need arises.
How else can we live from our hearts?
Express your gifts, talents and passions generously in the world. Be bold. Live out loud. Playing small does not serve you or anyone else. Feel the delight when you are engaged in activities that make your heart sing. When you express your inner essence outward, you invite others to do the same.
Make time each day to relax, day dream, be creative. Take care of your body. Stretch, walk in the woods, do yoga, eat your vegetables, drink water. Talk to a friend, have a massage. Breathe deeply, notice your surroundings with all 5 of your senses. When you are in balance and full of vitality, you increase your capacity to love another also.
Be grateful. Notice the magic, intuition, and synchronicities in your life. Take 60 seconds every day to name 3 things you are thankful for. This literally increases the number of brain cells and connections in your prefrontal cortex. This region of the brain is implicated in decision making, planning, organizing, and being socially intelligent. Living from our heart can make our brain more functional as well.
Communicate authentically. Know and express your thoughts, feelings and needs from your heart. Being clear in your speaking is self-love and love for another. Listen with an open heart. Hear what is spoken and unspoken. Let the person you are listening to know that you genuinely understand their point of view, feelings and experience. Being heard is a way of feeling loved.
Live in abundance. Love is not limited or scarce. It is not like a pie that needs to be rationed out. Love is like the sun whose nature is to shine. Living from your heart you feel the continuous sense of love flowing through you and out into the world. There is no need to look to another as the source of love. Being love is your birthright.
Looking to strengthen your heart this Valentine’s season? Here is one of my favorite meditations:
Loving Kindness Meditation
Take a long and deep breath. As you exhale, smile a half-smile.
Scan your body from head to toe and notice any tightness or soreness in any muscle or tissue of the body. Breathe into the soreness and soften it. Breathe and let go, so that all the tightness dissolves.
Make these affirmations –
May I be safe and protected.
May I be happy, peaceful and calm.
May I be strong and healthy.
May I live with joy and ease.
May I be filled with loving kindness.
Let your heart open now and let love flow from it. Silently say to yourself loving kindness, loving kindness, loving kindness.
Visualize a loved person – your spiritual teacher, a family member or a friend and intensify your loving feeling for them by saying the phrases above inserting “you” for “I” and end by saying loving kindness, loving kindness, loving kindness, and extend your love to them.
Now imagine a neutral person in the form of a neighbor, colleague or a stranger you met, and extend your love to them through the same process.
Next, imagine a person you are having difficulty dealing with and without stopping to allow any associated emotions to overcome you, project loving feelings to the ‘difficult’ person through the same process
Finally, generate loving feelings for all beings – past, present and future. Extend your love to them and wish that they be happy, healthy and free from suffering at all times.
When you are ready, open your eyes, wiggle your fingers and toes, stretch and move about your day with an open heart.