Today we celebrate Valentine's Day named after St. Valentine, who as some stories and legends be told was a priest during the third century in Rome who helped perform marriages for young lovers in secret when the Emperor Claudius had outlawed marriage for young men so they could serve as soldiers.
There are several other stories surrounding Valentine including one which suggests he had been imprisoned since he helped Christians escape from Roman prisons. Legends say an imprisoned Valentine sent his first "valentine" greeting after he fell in love with a young girl who visited him in prison signing it 'from your Valentine'.
Regardless of legend and folklore St. Valentine and Valentine's Day is associated with love, the greatest and most powerful feeling of all.
Merriam-Webster defines love as. . .
: strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties
: attraction based on sexual desire : affection and tenderness felt by lovers
: affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests
Incorporating love into our daily lives not just on Valentine's Day but every day allows us to feel more joy, happiness, and gratitude. A full and grateful heart has the power to overcome some of life's constant challenges.
I incorporated a very special meditation practice rooted in love, into my morning meditation a few years ago. It is a form of meditation based on lovingkindness called Metta.
The practice of metta, or loving-kindness, meditation is one which I was fortunate to be introduced to in 2017 when I attended a meditation retreat led by Sharon Salzberg at 1440 Multiversity. Metta is the Pali word for lovingkindness. This form of meditation is taught by cultivating kindness upon yourself so you are able to have the capacity to bestow it upon others. It is a beautiful and profound type of meditation which helps to enrich compassion, open your heart, receive love and give love.
During Sharon's retreat I learned the metta mantra and adapted it slightly for my own practice. Each morning after I practice my silent meditation I then transition into my metta meditation by reciting the mantra below to myself and then bestowing metta to others. I first bestow metta to myself, then to my family, my loved ones, my friends, and then humanity.
My metta mantra:
May I be safe.
May I be happy.
May I be well.
May I live life with ease.
Today in honor of Valentine's Day I bestow metta upon all of you and wish you peace, joy, happiness, and most of all love on this special day.