Valentine’s Day this weekend is a great opportunity to think about how we think about love. Hearts, flowers, champagne, chocolate, expensive dinners… are all nice in their place, but what does love really look like? How can we become more loving? How can we handle disappointments in love? There is an excellent article on the Yoga of Relationships at DharmaWisdom.org. I’ve shared an excerpt below. It’s well worth clicking here to read the whole article.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
The insights of mindfulness can help you clarify all the expectations and interpretations that determine how much you suffer with romantic love. As you learn the dharma, it becomes obvious that much of the misery you experience in relationships is not caused by the situation itself, or “what is,” but by your mind’s reaction to it. You quickly discover that you are tormented by what the Buddha described as “wanting mind.” Wanting mind leaves you dissatisfied with your relationship and your life because it defines life by what it does not have; therefore, there is never an end to the wanting. Or else you experience aversion to certain characteristics of your significant other, yourself, or your life together. You then compare these irritations or frustrations with an imagined perfect alternative and you suffer. These judgments about your life being insufficient build steadily until they form the reality of your perception. You then become restless and worried, or lifeless and numb, in the relationship.
This is not to say that the problems in your relationship are not real, nor is it to say that they are not sufficient reason for leaving. The point is that your feelings become so distorted that it is difficult to know what you truly feel, let alone make a wise decision.
Relationships inevitably involve feeling vulnerable, fearful, uncertain, and disappointed – how else could it be? Yet the untrained mind is not equipped to maintain equanimity, let alone compassion and loving-kindness, in the face of these difficulties. There is also the tendency to want, even expect, your love relationship to heal your childhood wounds, to be a source of unconditional love and endless praise to help you overcome self-loathing, or to rescue you from your boredom and unhappiness or from your lack of purpose. Being more grounded in your spiritual practice provides the strength and awareness to cope with all of these problems. Worked with mindfully, relationships become a vessel to help you travel deeper into yourself and, in time, to become more self-contained and less fearful or needy.
What does mindful love mean to you? Share in the comments.