Why Valentine’s Day is about more than corny gifts and secret admirers, plus the ways and benefits of loving unconditionally.
Loving is a sort of personal ecstasy – it raptures the heart, blisses the mind and pre-empts a kind of mutation of the soul’s DNA in which an eternal connection to another is formed like an augmentation, an increase in the soul’s capacity, and in so doing we are so much the better as people!
As we draw close to Valentine’s Day it seems appropriate to be thinking about love. Valentine’s Day, also known as Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is a celebration observed each year on February 14. St. Valentine’s Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. A popular story about Saint Valentine of Rome states that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. According to legend, during his imprisonment, he healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius. An elaboration to this story states that before his execution he wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell.
The day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love thrived. In eighteenth-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their feelings for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery and sending greeting cards. And of course that brings us to where we are today!
We don’t need a Valentine to experience love. Love for ourselves is paramount and then love for the earth upon which we live, for the people with whom we share and so on. We all benefit from giving and receiving love in some way.
Studies have even shown that love (categorise it as you may – Agape [altruistic, selfless love and compassion], Eros [passionate, romantic love], Philia [friendship and family love] and so on…) actually improves our longevity and health. Research carried out at The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, suggests that selfless love can increase our immunity by de-stressing us, as well as possibly extending our lifespans and improving our mental health states, including reducing depression. Dr Vernon Coleman writes states that the endorphins produced by the body when in love increase blood flow to the skin, which helps keep it soft and smooth, and reduces the development of wrinkles. The increased supply of “essential food and oxygen to skin cells when in love” also give the face a pinker, healthier glow … and the list goes on.
So let’s celebrate this thing we call love on Valentine’s Day by offering it unconditionally to all those we meet, to those we read about, see on television or just imagine. Let’s give out love to the whole world through all our little loving action ripples, and keep the dam of positive world emotions full. Let’s smile a genuine loving smile to our neighbour, hug an authentic hug with our children, laugh a warm laugh with our friends, give our sincere good wishes to someone who is having a difficult time, share our time doing something extraordinary and beautiful for random individuals at random times, give ourselves a deep and legitimate appreciation of who we are and remember to say “I love you” with simple authenticity to our intimate partners.
Let’s embrace the art of loving, opening our hearts to its bounties of giving and receiving and rejoice in the joy this will bring.
As the Dalai Lama says: “Compassion and love are not mere luxuries. As the source both of inner and external peace, they are fundamental to the continued survival of our species.”
How do YOU love unconditionally? What does love mean for you? Tell us in the comments below. We love hearing your ideas and getting feedback!