One of the most important things that I have seen develop in people through meditation is their awareness of how they treat themselves. For years I'm sure we've all heard that you have to love yourself before you can love another, sure that's a great phrase, but what does it really mean?
It can be very difficult to have patience, understanding, and compassion for those in our lives when we don't even know what it is like to treat ourselves with patience, understanding, and compassion. The roses, the chocolates, and other niceties are appreciated, but what are they representing? Many times a band-aid for a bigger problem boiling below.
Now, I'm not interested in denouncing the holiday by any stretch of the imagination, no one loves flowers more than me, but imagine if we made the investment that society encourages us to make once a year in flowers, chocolates, and other more expensive gifts and invested that same kind of presence in ourselves. Taking that kind of passion and investing in the betterment of yourself from the inside out becomes an investment in your relationships with others. Valentine's day then becomes the love and appreciation you feel for each other every day.
As far as I'm concerned, Valentine's Day isn't about love, it's often about commercialism and often contributes to those with mental illness feeling pressured to "be the love" for someone else that they don't even have for themselves. Very interesting perspective on it, isn't it?
I encourage you to make an investment in how you treat yourself from day to day and notice what begins to unfold in how you interact with others. The love that is developed for yourself will radiate back to you and you will see that real love begins within. It is not cliche' nor selfish to care for yourself. A balanced you, leads to an open-hearted you, a responsive you, a loving you, and a you that your marriage, your family relationships, and your friends will benefit from and truly appreciate.
Know that the love your are seeking starts inside and the passion you've had for serving your country exists inside you as a passion for loving those who you fought for. We all need you to continue to have that passion for living and serving, but now it takes on a whole new light. Learn the art of loving yourself, no matter where you have been, what you have seen or what you have done. You are still here because there is more for you to experience, more for you to do, and people for you to love and be loved by. I certainly have not given up on each of you because every interaction I've had with veterans, active duty, police, and firefighters has resulted in a handshake that meant something, a hug that was heartfelt, and many times a tear in their eye that shows me love resides there no matter how they are currently feeling.
I hope to meet many of you at the veterans/spouses meditation class starting on March 9 in my new office space. March 9 at 7:30pm with the support and cooperation of Meghan's Foundation, there will be a free class every week for veterans/active duty and spouses. Come meet me, learn about what I do, and join a bit of camaraderie with people who get where you're at. It's a safe space, free of judgment, and you don't have to know anything about meditation to be there. I'll teach you what I know and walk you through it step by step. The only thing you need to bring with you is your willingness to give it a whirl and see how you feel. It's okay to feel uncertain or nervous.....I wouldn't expect anything less from stepping outside your own boundaries, but remember that's where the healing begins.