Love is all around. I was around for the original version of this song, sung sweetly by The Troggs in the 1960s - a far cry from their earthy Wild Thing, but just as mesmerising. Nothing has changed. Love is all around us - if we look for it. And send it...
Valentine's Day is soon upon us. Many will be celebrating their love and expressing it with red roses, a candle-lit dinner for two, even a marriage proposal. This day of love may only come once a year, but it's up to us to make it last longer - even a life time. In today's world people are so buried in their phones, texting rather than talking face to face, that love can be found on the internet and terminated by a text. We need love to bring people together - to be kind, caring and loving. But why restrict ourselves to just romantic love? Why not give it to the poor, to your neighbours, to strangers, to people you don't like, to people who have hurt our feelings, to all beings on earth?!
It's easy to fall in love with someone we find attractive. We build them up to become overwhelmingly alluring and fall in love unguarded, partly through our own imagination and partly due to our reproductive instincts and hormones. Hence the bewilderment as we get lost in it, the frustration at the difficulty of maintaining it and the pain when we fall out of it. Yet most of us are convinced we can't live without it.
There is loneliness within us that longs for another person to remove. And because of that, love comes with conditional tags: expectations and demands for one's partner to keep us happy and satisfied. We want them to be what they are not! This possessive and demanding love imprisons our mind and makes us no happier. Hence the disillusion and disappointment.
When we're in love, the brain releases hormones to keep us looking good, feeling great and hooked on love. These hormonal releases have been found to have a shelf-life of around two years. When the euphoria wanes, sadness, boredom or unhappiness naturally resurface and we need a love top-up. Valentine's Day gives us a chance to reinforce and renew love in creative ways.
Like tending to a plant, regular watering and fertilising to stimulate more blossoms are needed. One way of doing this is by generating loving kindness to your loved ones. When you generate loving kindness, you wish for others' well-being, happiness and freedom from harm. Start off by sending loving kindness to yourself. You need to love and be kind to yourself before you can give it to others. Simply take a deep, deep breath, hold it, think of yourself and mentally say: may I be happy. Gently breathe out and send this well-wishing to all parts of your body. Then you can think of others whom you would like to send it to. Take a deep breath, send them loving kindness then breathe out.
Open your heart to love and transmit it to others regardless of who they are, including your enemy! Bitterly divorced couples may find it hard to send loving kindness to each other. If you can do it, it will free your mind from anger, leaving you feeling more positive and happier. It will even enhance your health, reducing the risk of heart disease. Generating loving kindness has been found to help stimulate blood flow to the left frontal pre-cortex, which is associated with positive emotion. Hence the more you send, the better for you! Love thine enemy! If you are unable to let go of anger, cortisol will be released, which affects your memory function and puts you at many health risks.
Loving kindness is infectious, a selfless kind of love. It doesn't cost you a penny. All you need is love, said The Beatles. They were right and you already have it. Send it to everyone, to people or animals, to those in pain, hunger, solitude. Send it to those in despair. The positive energy you send out will come back to you. With regular practice, you will find positive changes in yourself and the people you meet. You may find strangers smiling at you for no reason at all. People who weren't nice to you may become nicer. Send it to your exes. It matters not if romance fizzles out, is on the rocks or under maintenance; there is no void deep within you. So long as you continue to send loving kindness, there will always be a greater kind love in your heart.
If you have a loved one on this Valentine's Day, may your love grow stronger. If not, send loving kindness. Love is all around you. And so the feeling grows...