February 8, 2017

This Valentine’s Day, Love like a Buddhist.

I have been single for more Valentine’s Days than I have been coupled, and I have often felt a sense of impending doom as February the 14th approaches.

Friends and I share snarls and eye rolling as we ask one another, “So, what are you doing for V-Day?’ As if we already know the answer will be, “Oh, you know…feeling let down and slightly depressed.”

The truth is, this is a loaded day for those in and out of a relationship. Either way, we harbor hidden expectations around it.

As with other widely celebrated holidays, a piece of us will always want V-Day to be perfect. However, like most “special” days, it never quite lives up to the vision we hold in our minds.

In Buddhism, it is our attachment to a perceived outcome that causes suffering.

We would think as the years went by we would learn to put less pressure on each other and ourselves, but some deep belief stops us from lightening up. We cling to the idea that external circumstances get to decide whether we are happy.

Valentine’s Day, for many of us, is traditionally focused on receiving positive feedback from others.

It all began in our early school days, when we drew names on paper hearts and gave them to each other—and then solemnly counted every heart we collected.

Already, in primary school, we learned to give others the responsibility of reinforcing our self-worth. Now that we’re adulting, I think it’s time we altered this perspective.

We can each rebrand this holiday if we choose. In fact, we can reclaim it as the ideal time to practice heart-centered living, whether we have a sweetheart or not.

In Buddhist practice, we’re taught to move in the world from a place of inner validation, rather than outer. So let’s use Valentine’s Day as a time to come back to our own hearts—the only place where we will experience true, lasting love.

Many overlook the fact that the Buddha separated from his wife and children in order to pursue his path of awakening. That’s a key point to remember when we idealize a relationship as the best way to lead a fulfilling life.

Ancient wisdom understood that our true happiness does not rest with others.

As we seek something outside of ourselves to improve and solidify our current state, we are endlessly disappointed, for the exterior world is unpredictable and ever-changing.

Let’s take this Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to become more enlightened—not further bogged down.

The task of awakening depends solely on our point of view.

As we grow into healthy adults, we must own the role of becoming our own “happiness creators.”

Buddhism perceives every moment as an opportunity to wake up. This holiday is another pathway to deeper contentment and compassion.

If we are coupled on this day, let’s take the pressure off our partners, too, by returning to the greater tenderness within.

When we experience love overflowing from our own hearts, it matters less how others respond.

We can become our own soulmate this Valentine’s Day. This very heart beating in our chest is ours for the rest of our lives.

Here is a meditation I worked on creating to bring about more love on this day (and on any other day when we need a little lift). If we are suffering because the world is not meeting our expectations the way we think it should, it is our choice to step outside of the pain.

The Light Heart Meditation:

Sit, lie or stand and become still. Notice the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe in and out.

On the next inhalation, imagine breathing into your heart and filling it with light.

On the next exhalation, imagine this light extending out from your heart into your whole body, and filling every bit of it (even each bone and cell) with loving light.

Continue this practice for five cycles of the breath, filling the heart and then extending that love out to your whole body. When finished, pause and silently repeat a loving phrase. I like, “Perfect love is created within my chest.”

Continue this meditation until your heart is overflowing.

This Valentine’s Day, let’s discover perfect love. Inviting it in is simpler than we think. We don’t need anyone or anything else to unconditionally adore ourselves.

Breath, heart, and light equals love.


Author: Sarah Norrad

Image: @elephantjournal on Instagram

Editor: Toby Israel


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Sarah Norrad Feb 10, 2017 9:38pm

Hi Ed, Oh, my goodness, those words gave me goosebumps. Thank you. How beautiful. May we make more love, Sarah Norrad

Sarah Norrad Feb 10, 2017 9:37pm

What an honour to recieve your message! I am so happy you are walking this path of transformation too. It truly is a brave and incredibly rewarding one. Much love to you for this journey, Sarah Norrad

Sarah Norrad Feb 10, 2017 9:35pm

Thank you, Valerie! That is so wondeful to hear. I will try to include some more of my meditations in my articles as an offering. Also, I am currently working on a book in which I will be including lots more!

Ed Gibson Feb 10, 2017 6:32pm

Very timely and inspiring! I loved Robert Holden's words when he said that when we are searching for love we are really searching for ourselves.

Rasha A. Al-Jabi Feb 10, 2017 12:14pm

Dear Sarah, Thank you for sharing your beautiful words, thoughts and meditative practices on Valentine's Day! Your words truly inspired me to continue walking on the path of learning and enlightenment. Amazing work! �

Valerie Maynard Feb 9, 2017 4:20pm

Absolutely love your light heart meditation <3 would love to see some more you have come up with :) thanks for sharing!

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Sarah Norrad

Sarah Norrad was born a wild woman in the rural and rugged forests of the Nimpkish Valley, on Vancouver Island, BC. This is a place where the mountains, forests and rivers speak louder than the people. A transformational coach, certified yoga instructor, mindfulness and lay counsellor, and authoress, Sarah muses at the world through a lens steeped in mindfulness, adventure, and tenderness. Currently, she exploits the cracks in her own heart to write as a columnist at elephant journal, her busy brain to create content for others through her business and her keen spirit to sit as coach and counsellor, teaching powerful tools for success in all aspect of our lives, especially personal power. Please track down her offerings and her mindful self on elephant journal, her writer’s page or her personal Facebook, her website, Cowbird, Twitter and Instagram.