Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Wondering what to give your friend or lover this Valentine's Day?

Wondering what to give your friend or lover this Valentine's Day?

Give them the gift of your presence. Take a moment to make actual contact with the one in front of you: take a risk, allow them to matter to you, be curious about how they are making meaning of their life: what moves them, what scares them, what keeps them up at night, what lights their heart on fire. Meet 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. See that the "other" is not merely an object arising in your awareness, but is an actual person, a subject in their own right. They are alive, their heart is beating, they are longing for connection, and trying to make sense of it all. They want to be seen, held, and loved, just for a moment. Just like you.

In a moment of pure contact, remove the burden that they change, become someone different, or see things the way you do. And set aside the secret requirement that they confirm who you think you are in order for you to love them.

Honor the reality that they will never, ever be able to meet all of your requirements and needs. They will never be able to take care of that which remains unresolved in your heart. This is their great gift, to return this sacred activity to you. Rather than unconsciously shaming or blaming them for this, honor them for it. Bow down to the altar that is formed in the space between.

Make contact with the one in front of you, perhaps for the first time, and let the dream figure go that you have created in your mind – the one you hoped was there, needed to be there, or feared would not be there. They were never going to turn out the way you thought they would anyway. For who and what they are is far too wild and creative for that. Meet the one who is actually here, for that one is an outrageous miracle.

In addition to contact, you can provide your beloved the space to be who he or she is. This space is not actually something that you can give to them, but is what you both always already are. You do not need to spin around them, ensuring they are okay and that they are continuously confirming your hopes, fears, and unmet longing. 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 inside and outside them, 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.

Perhaps these are the greatest gifts you can give on this Valentine's Day, but please don't take my word for it. Look into your heart and into the eyes of the beloved in front of you and see for yourself. 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.

Wishing my friends a Valentine's Day of true intimacy and wild aliveness, from the holding of the Boulder mountains. From the clear water in the creek, from the ducks and the geese, and from the deer who have come near to give the gift of their presence on this new morning. Humbled on the muddy earth. Totally alone. Unbearably connected. I feel you. And honor you. And accept the gift of your being.

Art credit: "Valentine's Tree," the inspiring and visionary work of my friend Alice Mason

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