Wondering what to give your friend or lover this Valentine's Day?
Give them the gift of your presence. Take a moment to make tender contact with the one in front of you: allow them to matter to you, be curious about how they are making meaning of their life: what moves them, scares them, keeps them up at night, lights their heart on fire. Touch their longing to feel heard, to feel seen, to feel felt. Flood them with the warmth of empathy, attunement, and deep listening.
Stay close to the actuality of their lived, embodied experience. Send your presence into the core of their heart, into the cells of their nervous system, and into the secret caverns of their body.
For just one moment, remove the burden that they change, become someone different, or see things the way you do. Set aside the secret requirement that they confirm who you think you are in order for you to love them.
Make contact with the one in front of you, as if it were for the very first time. Allow the dream figure you have created to dissolve in the place of clear seeing. Say goodbye to the one you hoped was there, needed to be there, or feared would not be there. So that you can finally see the one who is here. No, they were never going to turn out the way you thought they would. For who and what they are is too wild and creative for that. Meet the one who is actually here, for that one is an outrageous miracle.
In addition to contact, provide your beloved the space to be who he or she is. Through the cells of your heart, the light-strands of your DNA, and the mirror neurons lighting up in your brain, let them know you are there for them, that you will stay close… but not so close that you fuse or engulf them with the shadows of your unlived life.
If they need you, you will be there, but not otherwise. You will not impinge upon the unfolding of their unique journey, even if it triggers you. You will allow them to live their life, make their own mistakes, make their own meaning of what is happening, and to chart their own course. You will allow their heart to break, to touch the depths of their own pain and vulnerability, and to stand in their existential aloneness, with you by their side in deep, mutual knowing just how alone the path can sometimes feel.
Honor your separateness as well as your connection, and provide space in which they can make the journey in their own way.
And even if you find yourself alone on this day, the beloved is waiting for you inside the mirror of your own being. Look carefully and you will see. Even within this field of aloneness - which we are all standing in together - you are in the perfect place to make this same offering, by giving these gifts to yourself.
Be your own Valentine and watch what emerges from that radical commitment to self-care and non-abandonment. Watch as this world lights up with the outrageous activity of love and as the veil separating "self" and "other" reveals its translucency.
Stay in close, intimate contact to whatever is arising within you and offer the space for your experience to unfold and illuminate exactly as it is. For you will never be able to provide to another what you are unable to give to yourself.
The next event is The Healing Shame Retreat: Spiritual Awakening and Transforming the Core Wound of Unworthiness, April 24-29, 2019 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado, with co-facilitator Jeff Foster