Be your own valentine this year. Recommit to “the most important relationship of your life: the one you have with yourself.”
Valentine’s Day is a holiday with a lot of pressure. It’s the only holiday for a stretch during late winter, and it’s all about romance. That can be nice, but it can also be stressful, especially if we are single or dealing with tension in our relationships. Whatever your romantic situation, this can be a wonderful day to recommit to the longest and most important relationship of your life: the one you have with yourself.
Here are some suggestions for self-love practices this Valentine’s day.
1. Take Stock
How are you doing? Take a look at how you are serving and supporting the most important aspects of your life.
The following practice is inspired by the Medicine Wheel, a concept used in many Indigenous communities to support a person’s health and wellness. The Wheel represents the idea that our health is not just about the physical body, but a series of interlocking realities that influence each other.
Separate your thoughts into a few categories. The classic four are Body, Mind, Spirituality, and Emotion. You could add others as well if you like, such as Social, Financial, Family, Romance, and so on. Classically, the Wheel is drawn as a circle with slices cut out for each category.
For each segment, write down what you are currently doing to support your health and wellness in this area. Then write down what you would like to be doing.
Look at what you wrote down. What do you notice? Where are you succeeding at taking care of yourself and where is there room for improvement?
Put the date on your document. Set up a reminder in your calendar for a month from now. At that time, repeat the process and see how things are changing (or not).
2. Focus on Pleasure
There is a difference between genuine pleasure and numbing practices that are intended to stop us from feeling.
[Read more: “6 Tantric Techniques to Improve Your Sex Life.”]
Genuine pleasure is a full-body experience. It allows us to be fully present both physically and emotionally. For example, if you buy yourself a nice bottle of wine for Valentine’s day, do you drink it quickly in order to get drunk while binging Netflix? That’s not pleasure, that’s self-numbing—or maybe even self-punishing. But if you buy the same nice bottle of wine and sip a glass slowly, savoring it with some of your favorite foods, focusing on the experience of taste and texture, then you are in a pleasure practice. Pleasure practices always bring you closer to your experience of your body, not farther away.
Line up some of the activities that give you the most pleasure on this day. Is it taking a bath? Making food? Ordering out from your favorite restaurant? Taking a walk in a beautiful place? Prioritize these activities today and enjoy the hell out of them.
3. Care for Your Body
Your body is special—it’s the only one you have. Whatever your relationship with your body might be, do something today that is good for your body. This activity should also be pleasurable—don’t try to run five miles if you hate running and rarely do it. Get a massage, take a yoga class, or simply take a nap. When you close your eyes and tune in to your body, see if you can feel into what it would like to do today. What would feel nourishing, comforting, refreshing, and sweet from the perspective of your body? Enjoy some sensual pleasures today in the ways that feel best to you.
As with all these self-love practices, meditation should be pleasurable. It should bring you closer to your experience of your body, not force you to sit through pain. There are many nourishing and pleasurable ways to meditate. Specifically, try my meditation on self-love.
Whatever your romantic situation may be this Valentine’s day, you will not regret taking the time out to love yourself today.
Keep reading about self-love practices: “Practice of Self-Love.”