Presence Over Presents: The Makings of a Mindful Valentine’s Day

Presence Over Presents: The Makings of a Mindful Valentine’s Day

This time of year you don’t have to look far to come across messages about what you need to give to your special someone to express your love. Most people turn to flowers, jewelry, a fancy dinner or a box of chocolates to mark the occasion. And, it becomes routine for Valentine’s Day to become just yet another item to check off on your to-do list.

What do we get each other for Valentine’s’ Day?

Every February, my husband and I are faced with the same question:

What do we get each other for Valentine’s’ Day?

We’ve been together long enough that flowers and chocolates are no longer quite as special. They’ve become routine, in a way, and have lost their meaning. And at this point in our lives, neither of us want to spend a lot of money on a gift that won’t really be appreciated.

This year, I don’t want to just buy my husband something. I want to give him something. I want to offer him my time and attention. And that—my time and undivided attention—are far more valuable than what is in my wallet.  

I thought there might be others out there also wanting to give their time and attention to their partner rather than spending money on flowers that will end up in the compost or a big box of chocolates that can lead to a tummy ache and extended waistline.  

Here are a few ideas that help us mark Valentine’s Day

Express your love and appreciation and celebrate presence over presents:

  • Instead of going out for a fancy dinner, prepare a simple, favorite meal for your beloved. Spend time while preparing the food to really be present in the experience. Take time beforehand to really think about why you love this person and allow your attention to focus completely on the feelings of love you experience in your heart. Then, carry that feeling in your heart throughout the meal preparation and into the sharing of the meal.
  • Instead of buying a card, handwrite a letter. You could write about a favorite memory, or list all of the reasons you are grateful to have your loved one in your life. Go wherever your pen takes you.
  • Instead of a dozen long-stemmed roses, place your beloved’s favorite flower somewhere you know he or she will see it. This could be on the bedside table, next to the computer or even in front of the coffee maker. This shows your partner that you pay attention to his or her routine, know what flower is loved most and that you have tailored your gift to be meaningful—and sweet, surprising and fun—rather than generic.
  • Instead of getting a huge box of chocolates, buy one or two specialty truffles. Spend some time practicing the mindful eating of them, really letting yourselves fully savor them together.
  • Pick something that your partner enjoys that really isn’t your thing, and offer to participate in it without resentment. This can be tricky, so don’t go too far outside your comfort zone or you won’t be able to do it without feeling resentful and/or your partner getting annoyed. This could be watching a football game or going to see the ballet. When there, genuinely try to learn more about it—even if it’s the last thing you usually like doing—and why your partner enjoys it so much.
  • Create a sensual experience for your beloved, such as a massage or a bath. Think about what your partner most enjoys, and try to create a tailor-made experience. Think about music, scents, lighting. Give your partner full permission to relax and fully focus on enjoying the experience without having to do anything to reciprocate.

Valentine’s Day can be more than a Hallmark holiday. In spirit, I think it’s a lovely idea to set aside a day to honor love and really spend some time appreciating the love in your life—in whatever form that love takes. This year, I invite you to expand your aspirations for Valentine’s Day. The world could use more love right now, in my humble opinion, so let’s reframe the holiday to be about more than just buying things for the special person in your life. Let’s make it about gratitude and offering appreciation and homage to all the relationships in your life. Partner love, love of your children, love of your pets, extended family, teachers, mentors—all the places it exists! Spread the love wherever you find and feel it because the funny thing about love is that the more you give, the more you gain.

Samara has an experience of over 15 years in providing coaching and therapy using mindfulness based approach. She is a licensed psychologist, she helps people struggling with depression, grief, life transition, chronic illness, self esteem issues and anxiety.
She has done her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies and her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from the University of New Hampshire.

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Have a Merry Mindful Holiday

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