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February is here, bringing with it the excitement and celebration of Valentine’s Day. Whether you are excited about it or not, it’s definitely a day to dive deeper into a real understanding of what love is and why the presence or lack of it creates such powerful reactions in people of all ages and cultures across the planet.
Based on your own perspectives on love, this can fill you with expectations: of a romantic date with your sweetheart, a constant stream of messages with red heart emojis on social media, heart-shaped balloons, candies, Hallmark cards, gifts, or dozens of red roses.
But love is so much more than all these expressions.
So what is love?
Most of us think that love is an emotion, often demonstrated through different actions and expressions, but if we think about it, love is the force that governs the whole universe. Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar explains that love is the force that keeps the earth going around the sun and the moon around the earth, the force that keeps us glued to the earth, the force that keeps the cells in our body together.
Love is life. Life is Love.
Most yoga philosophy and ancient scripture tell us that love is the reflection of the Supreme Consciousness that is present in everybody and everything, every single particle on this planet. When we’re able to recognize love in this way, suddenly, we can see love everywhere. The immense love that is the core of everything, that reveals itself every time we feel a flicker of beauty, tenderness, affection, gratitude, joy, or compassion. Observing life through a filter of a grand love will either fuel the fire we already feel inside, or it will create a spark and start to fill a void.
Love is the very basis and essence of our existence. We are made up of love. Love is who we are, more than what we feel and express. Feelings and expressions are transient, they change and go away, but our innate nature is indestructible, constant.
I am love. You are love. We are love.
Meet Your Perfect Date This Valentine’s Day
This Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to intensify your search for your soulmate and begin a sizzling love affair. But not the way you think. Instead of looking for your soulmate somewhere outside of yourself, I want you to look within and find your perfect and most intimate soulmate—the one who’s been your constant loyal companion during all the ups and downs of your life. The one who has never left you and never will whether you pay attention to the one or not. Such is the unconditional support that your companion provides.
When you connect with this loyal companion, you will realize that you are full and complete just the way you are. On this day, instead of looking for your better half in someone else, take a few moments to connect with your real Self—your constant companion, and know that you are full.
This beautiful chant from Ishavasya Upanishad (one of the ancient yoga scriptures) says it all.
ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं पूर्णात्पुर्णमुदच्यते
पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ॥
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
Om shanti, shanti, shanti!
That (outer world) is the whole, this (inner world) is the whole;
from the whole (all-pervading supreme consciousness), the whole becomes manifest;
Whether the whole is added to or taken away from the whole,
the whole remains.
Om. Peace! Peace! Peace!
This is so profound, empowering, and liberating.
Drop this idea of incompleteness. Let go of the crazy expectation and feverishness of wanting love. Make the shift from looking externally for love to make you complete and begin treating yourself like the king or queen that you are, you’ll find your heart is so much full of love, that you want to give it to everyone around you.
As you cultivate this kind of relationship with yourself, you will notice that you are stronger, more independent, and more able to give as well as attract and accept healthy, genuine love. Moreover, other people’s actions, expressions, and choices won’t knock you off-center as easily. Their love will become a beautiful gift, rather than a lifeline.
3 Yoga Poses to Spark Self-Love or Universal Love
This Valentine’s day, get on the yoga mat and remind yourself that true love starts from within, that you are the source of love. Spark your lifelong love affair from the inside-out.
Spend 20 minutes with your real companion, your real Self, softening and opening your heart with these three intimate practices.
1. Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)
Sit with your spine straight. Bend your knees so that the left foot goes under the right knee, to the outside of the right hip. Stack the right knee on top of the left. Gently fold your left arm and place it behind your back. Inhale, stretch right arm above your head, bend and bring behind your upper back and gently attempt to touch the left hand behind the back.
Keep the trunk erect, and expand and open up your chest. Hold this pose for as long as you are comfortable. As you breathe slowly and deeply, this pose softens your heart and opens your Anahata chakra (heart center).
Repeat on the opposite side.
As you start to feel more centered, chant the above prayer of “wholeness”, either mentally or out loud. Feel that you are dissolving into the wholeness.
2. Ushtrasana (Camel pose)
To do this asana, kneel down, then lean back to touch the feet with both hands. If you can’t touch your feet, just keep your palms on your back to support your back.
Hold this pose for 30-60 seconds. As you breathe slowly and deeply, feel the opening of your Anahata chakra (heart center), promoting a deep sense of trust in the self, inner strength and fortitude.
Gently release the posture and relax into the shishuasana (child’s pose). Mentally chant the prayer again, feeling the tender love and protection of mother earth.
3. Wholeness meditation
Start seated in a simple cross-legged position with your sitting bones supported on a blanket or a cushion. Keep your spine tall and long.
Softly close your eyes and bring your awareness to the heart region. Deepen your breath.
Bring your right hand over your lower belly, and lightly rest the left hand over your heart center. Take 10 deep breaths into the space beneath your hands — expanding on the inhale and softening on the exhale.
Relax your hands on your knees with your palms facing up.
With all your sincerity, again chant the prayer 3 times at an interval of 2-3 minutes. Sit quietly for some time, soaking in the vibrations of the chants. Feel the fullness deep within and feel the endless power and presence of love.
Whenever you feel complete, gently open your eyes with a big smile.
You are ready for the day! Go out and celebrate. Treat yourself to a bright and beautiful bunch of flowers and celebrate the love and life within you. Rise (not fall!) in love with life, because that is the ultimate celebration of your existence. Keep smiling. Be the love and give love to everyone, including your loved ones.
Sri Sri Yoga Foundation Program