Valentines is nearly upon us. Here we are, celebrating yet another holiday after a challenging year like no other. For some of us, these past 11 months may have been the biggest test of love we’ve ever had to endure.
Put another way: how do you not lose your shit occasionally when your significant other has been the only other in your little tight bubble for such a long time? Even the best of relationships have inevitably endured some ups and downs this year. So if your valentine is still your valentine, that alone is really worth celebrating. To go even further, it might be a good time to connect in ways that really honor each other and the struggles you’ve endured together over the past year.
This Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to engage in a little relationship maintenance, as it seems like we may still have a ways to go in our tight bubble of awesomeness. Wouldn’t it be great if equanimity and love could come to the top of our interactions for the next few months?
I was drawn to re-examine once more the Buddha’s teachings on love for a little Valentine’s inspiration. I didn’t find much about flowers and chocolates, but I did find the concept of dependent arising and the practice of loving-kindness. Dependent arising explains a way of seeing things as interconnected rather than simply being about a singular cause for a particular result. With every act, we set variables in motion that will affect an outcome. We cannot expect one direct action to lead to an immediate result. In our love garden, it’s not just the gardener who creates the fragrance. Many factors play a role, including the quality of the seeds and the variable climate. But the work of the gardener is also very important. The gardener creates the conditions of possibility through daily care. Such care can increase the likelihood of fragrant flowers blooming in the spring. And there are no guarantees; something could change it all. However, we can put wise intention to our actions and try to set up the best possible conditions for success.
This year I’m committing to a 14-day practice of loving-kindness with intention, speech, and action. Each day I will engage one small action to “water” or “fertilize” the “love garden” in our house. It could be as simple as cleaning the pot my beloved left in the sink or folding the blanket on the floor after her meditation practice. Maybe lingering a while after breakfast to enquire about her day and how I might support her. Or it could be bigger. Making a great meal, lighting candles, and showering my partner with a genuine appreciation for all she is bringing to my life and has done for me over the time we have been in our bubble and had to adapt to this different world.
I am also planning a date night like no other. Before our Valentine’s dinner, we are going to practice partner-yoga and meditate together. Towards the end – from our wise and knowing self – we will share our insights with each other. Then we will celebrate with a great meal.
We are opening up our before-dinner Yoga and Meditation practice as a workshop for couples who would like to join us. If you would like to participate in this workshop as a way of helping you celebrate you can find out more with the link below.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Michael Lee is the founder and creator of the Phoenix Rising Method based on his personal experience and the integration of yoga, Buddha dharma, and elements of contemporary psychology. Phoenix Rising now has training programs online and in several locations in the USA, Canada, the UK, Taiwan, and Japan, and over 2000 graduates. Michael and his wife Lori are parents to five adult children and bi-locate in rural Massachusetts and the North Woods of Maine.