Valentine’s Day is for All Those Who Love

…and that’s all of us.

The flip side of love is loss. Even as we fall in love, we feel loss coming. This haunting feeling of impermanence makes love real, sweet, heartbreaking, tender, open, raw, vulnerable and precious.

Love begins anew each morning, each moment. Love is a practice, much like meditation. The hard part about love is letting go. Letting go may not be pretty. It may involve heartache, angst, sadness.

There is a Buddhist meditation practice – tonglen – to essentially keep such heavy feelings flowing through instead of getting stuck. It works against the ego’s tendency to push away pain (dukha) and cling to pleasure (sukha), even when reality is painful and pleasure is temporary. Tonglen is a sending and taking practice. It is a way to connect with suffering – ours and that which is all around us. It helps us to overcome fear of suffering and open our heart to all that may come. Tonglen is one way to awaken the compassion that is inherent in all of us.


Here’s how to practice tonglen meditation:

Sit comfortably with good posture.

Breathe in the wish to take away the pain, stress and fear from the person you have in mind. Conjure an image of someone who you know is hurting, be it from pain, sorrow or grief.

Breathe out and send that person happiness, ease, and courage.

Do this for five minutes, imagining this person’s relief from suffering. Release them from your mind and focus on your breath for a few more minutes. End the session by putting your palms together.

I wish you a genuine Valentine’s Day. Feel what you feel with the knowledge that emotions are fluid. Know that you are loved and lucky, and that everything is impermanent, and that sadness will help you love all the more. If you are lonely, know that you are not alone.


© 2013 Amy Dara Hochberg. All rights reserved.