Valentine’s Day is known to most of us as a romantic holiday where significant others adorn their lover with red roses, chocolates, sweet poetic cards and candies with heartfelt messages such as ‘Be mine.’
It is also the fun crafty holiday.
In school we cut out hearts with construction paper, we might glue messages onto them and then put one in each of are classmates handmade mailbox that sits on top of lined up desks.
In other cultures, Valentine’s day is known as Saint Valentines Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine. No matter what you call it, it’s celebrated every year on February 14.
What exactly does it all mean? and why all the cut out hearts, chocolates and red roses?
Historically, February 14 is the day that the Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni were honored. Both of them were martyrs. The day became first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering candies, and sending cards, also known as “valentines”.
There are many legends and folklore about Valentine and Valentines Day. Some believed that February 14 meant the coming of spring. A proverb says that “Saint Valentine brings the keys of roots”. Plants and flowers start to grow on this day. This day has been celebrated as the day when the first work in the vineyards and in the fields commences. It is also said that birds propose to each other or marry on that day.
In modern times, we’ve taken this holiday as a day of love, romance and expression towards the one or ones we love the most. Stores start stocking Valentines day merchandise in some cases as early as the days leading up to Christmas. Shelves are designated for Valentines candies, cards, stuffed hearts and teddy bears.
My Mom and Dad got engaged on Valentines day. How romantic right? It’s pure love, like the color gold.
I’ve been dissed and dumped on Valentines day and I’ve also been loved and adorned. To me this is not just about love, but about joy and acceptance. I’ve learned to accept myself at times on this day, I’ve danced in joy in the jungle of Costa Rica and I’ve immersed in divine love with humanity on this day while chanting with Krishna Das overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was pure love, like the color gold; with my heart feeling BIG and filled.
What about another possibility for what Valentines day can represent? Modern people seem to have a way of repairing and fixing old belief systems. Instead of people getting depressed because they don’t have a lover on Valentines day, they have the potential to create a new loving perspective. How about “Love for all beings.”
When the Dalai Lama was interviewed by Andrew Harvey on the day that he received the Nobel Prize, he said “The world can only be saved now by everyone trying as hard as possible to love all beings.” His holiness paused and with a smile, he said, “This may seem impossible.” While slowly clapping his hands, he continued by saying “But with spiritual practice all things are possible. Your Buddha nature is as good as the Buddha’s Buddha nature, and who was not embraced by the Buddha’s compassion?” He then began to quote from Shantideva’s Mind of the Bohisattva: “Those who are unhappy are unhappy because they look out only for themselves. Those who are happy are happy because they seek the joy of others.” After pausing for quite some time, he said, “The secret of life is to try to make others happy. People often ask me what is my religion. My religion is kindness.”
On Thanksgiving we celebrate Gratitude. We give thanks for the blessings and people in are lives. On Valentines day, we have the ability to celebrate Love, pure love. We have the potential to celebrate as ONE and to vibrate only through our hearts. That’s pure love mixed with pure joy.
Here’s a yoga sequence taken from Karuna Erickson & Andrew Harvey’s book Heart Yoga: The Sacred Marriage of Yoga and Mysticism.
Try this sequence in honor of Valentines day or to feel the joy and love for all beings.
*Sun Salutations- Surya Namaskar
*Supported Heart Opener
*Sphinx Pose- Bhujangasana modification
*Cobra Pose- Bhujangasana
*Hero Pose- Virasana
*Camel Pose- Ustrasana
*Bridge Pose- Setu Bandhasana
*Wheel Pose- Urdhva Dhanurasana
*Bridge Pose- Setu Bandhasana
*Reclined Leg Release- Supta Padanguthasana
*Reclined Back Twist- Jathara Parivartanasana
*Legs Up Wall Pose- Viparita Karani
I hope that you can take the time to celebrate this practice this Valentines Day. I realize that yoga may seem like a solitary practice, but the inner journey that one goes on can birth a love for one’s own being, which then gracefully leads to an all embracing love for all beings.
Oneness and Enlightenment.