Love is available to all of us, whether or not we happen to be in a romantic relationship right now.

Yet, thanks to the commercialism surrounding Valentine’s Day, many people feel unloved on the one day of the year set aside to celebrate love.

Feelings of loneliness, grief, and regret can be amplified. Memories of good times with old lovers can be stirred up, bringing painful emotions with them.

And, while we may not welcome these feelings, it is more than okay to experience them. We don’t need to suppress them or numb ourselves through food, alcohol, a one-night stand, or Netflix bingeing.

The most helpful thing we can do for ourselves when these feelings arise is to simply be with them. When we allow ourselves to fully feel our emotions, they disperse. When we suppress them, we hold onto them in our physical bodies—and they will be triggered to arise again and again, until we finally allow them to fully emerge.

To help release these trapped emotions, try practicing metta, the Buddhist loving-kindness meditation.This is a meditation to help us increase our own self-love, as well as to send love to others—and not just those we most care about.

It’s a five-stage meditation, whereby we bring different people to mind. For each person, we consider the qualities we admire in them, and then we send them loving energy.

The usual format is to start with ourselves, then move on to a person close to us, followed by a person with whom we are acquainted but not close to. The fourth stage, the hardest, is to send loving-kindness to someone we’re experiencing difficulty with, and the final stage is to send love to all beings.

For Valentine’s Day, I suggest adopting this meditation to send love to all those people we have loved, both romantically and platonically, including those who are no longer in our lives.

Begin with yourself, because this is the foundation.

When we fill ourselves up with our own love, we are better able to send love out to others. So, allow yourself to feel appreciation for your best qualities. If this is difficult, then silently recite the following mantra to yourself:

May I be well.

May I be happy.

May I be peaceful.

May I be loved.

Next, move on to all those who you currently love.

Allow all of your loved ones to come into your consciousness, and silently express your appreciation and gratitude to them. And use this mantra to send them all loving-kindness:

May you be well.

May you be happy.

May you be peaceful.

May you be loved.

For the third stage, bring to mind your past lovers.

Remember why you loved them, and focus on that, rather than the reasons your relationship fell apart. Of course this may be difficult, and if it is, then go straight to the mantra.

May you be well.

May you be happy.

May you be peaceful.

May you be loved.

For the fourth stage, bring to mind anyone you’re currently having difficulties with.

This may be someone you’re currently involved with romantically, but there’s conflict in the relationship. It may be someone you’ve recently broken up with, and there’s still lots of anger between you. Or, there might not be any romantic association with this person. It doesn’t matter—if you can, bring to mind qualities in this person that you do admire and appreciate. If that’s too difficult, then simply use the mantra to send them well wishes.

May you be well.

May you be happy.

May you be peaceful.

May you be loved.

Lastly, send loving-kindness out to all those who are struggling emotionally today.

For those who are coming to terms with a recent breakup. For those who are grieving the passing of their life partner. For those who are experiencing unrequited love. For those who do not know how to love themselves:

May you be well.

May you be happy.

May you be peaceful.

May you be loved.

First published on elephantjournal.com

Photo: Tim Marshall/Unsplash


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