This Valentine’s Day, give yourself the gift of self-love

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The Beatles said, “All you need is love. Love is all you need.” While we could argue that our needs extend beyond love, no one can deny its tremendous importance in our lives. In fact, love has also been referred to as the greatest force in the universe and that which makes the world go round. 

It also may be said that there are two primary emotions, love and fear, and that other emotions are simply extensions of these two primary emotional forces. Love encompasses the emotions of appreciation, joy, compassion and happiness, while emotions such as anxiety, resentment and anger are extensions of fear. 

It may not surprise you that choosing to live from a place of love will improve your overall health.

As an exercise, close your eyes and notice how your body is feeling right now in this moment.

Then, close your eyes again and think about times in your life when you have been especially aware of love in your life, such as with a romantic relationship, when a baby in your family was born, or when snuggling up with a furry friend. Think about that love and check in with your body again. 

What changes do you notice in your body?

You may notice an increased sense of well-being and a sparkle of joy in your chest cavity. 

As it turns out, research shows that, indeed, experiencing love, as well as other positive emotions associated with love, improves health in these ways:

■ Extends life span

■ Reduces anxiety

■ Lowers blood pressure

■ Decreases stress levels

■ Decreases incidence of heart-related maladies

■ Decreases risk of diabetes

■ Improves mental capacity and improves clarity of thought.

“Our quest is not to be loved,” says craniosacral therapist Nykole Coombs, “but to remove the barriers to feeling that we are already lovable.”

She notes that symptoms related to such barriers may include experiencing a heavy feeling in the chest, an inability to reach a full breath or maintain good posture, middle back tension, feeling stuck in grief or depression and a feeling of tightness in the shoulders.

Mental health counselor Leslie Kittel points out that love is not something that is received or given. Rather, it is something we can nurture and grow. In relationships, we ultimately can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

So how do we nurture love and create a deeper sense of love in our lives?

One avenue is counseling. Kittel says counseling and related art therapies offer a safe place to examine ourselves and shed light into causative factors that may block us from feeling love. 

Love can also be cultivated internally by performing specific meditations. Here is an example of a meditation you can do at home.

For meditation in general, it is helpful to find some time alone and in a quiet space. 

Close your eyes and take a relaxed, deep breath. Imagine a sparkle of glowing light in your chest cavity. See that light as representing love. Using your imagination, expand the sparkle of light into a larger glowing presence. Continue to expand the glowing light of love until it is as large as you can imagine. It may fill your entire heart space, chest cavity or encompass your entire body. Imagine your day with that glowing light shining brightly for each and every person you encounter. When you are ready, gently open your eyes.

Remember, you have the ability to create love in your life, and you have the choice to live from a place of love (or fear). This Valentine’s Day, give yourself the greatest gift of all by loving yourself. 

Dr. April L. Schulte-Barclay is a doctor of acupuncture and oriental medicine and a licensed acupuncturist. She has been practicing in Grand Junction since 2004 and is an expert and leader in integrative and collaborative medicine.

Learn more at hhacumed.com, or call Healing Horizons Integrated Health Solutions at 256-8449.


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