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Mindful : February 2015
68 mindful December 2014 Valentine’s Day—a sweet sexy reminder to wow your mate with passion and appreciation, or a Hallmark holiday that pressures you to cough up romance on demand? Your response to this single-item test is telling. Sure, it’s easy to be cynical on February 14 and ignore the whole thing, or g rab a random card because if you don’t your partner pouts until spring. But if you see only the super- ficialities, you are missing the possibili- ties. For love itself is...well, g reat, and cele- brating is not cliché. So this year, instead of refusing to participate, use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to love mindfully. My granddad Norman was great at mindful loving. He first laid his sparkling blue eyes on my petite blonde grand- mother Evelyn at a Valentine’s da nce. Though she was engaged to another man, he wooed her, won her, wed her. Together they shared affection and passion over a lifetime that ranged from wartime to hard-won success. Their retirement was filled with RV trips and tango dancing. Sixty years after that first meeting, his eyes, now old and pale, still lit up with delight every time she walked into a room. Most of us know a couple like my grandparents, and we want that sort of love affair, too. None of us plan to become the couple staring blankly across the restaurant table with nothing to say. But great relationships are created, not discovered. As marriage researcher John Gottman says, love is the conscious decision to magnify and cherish your partner’s positive traits and minimize the negatives. And that is what my grandpar- ents did. When the first flush of romance wore off they worked to make sure the real romance got stronger a nd stronger. Remember, “love” is a verb. Are you so busy that you forget to prioritize romance? Be honest. How strong is your current love connection on a scale from zero to 10? If it’s less than 10, the Mind- fulness Cupid is here to give you a poke. Treat Valentine’s Day like a meditation bell, reminding you to slow down and show up for love, over a nd over again. Tips for Mindful Loving Remember why you love them Take each sighting of cheap chocolates or drooping roses as a cue to take a mindful breath. Then connect with your hear t. Recall special moments the two of you have sha red—your first kiss, what they wore on your wedding day, the most outrageous place you’ve made love. Later, sha re those memories with your sweetie a nd celebrate some of the moments that led you along the path to now. Commit to date your mate Give the gift of interest and time, and book non-negotiable weekly dates. Try recreating your first date, but tell each other what you were privately thinking and feeling during that life-changing encounter. Plan occasional adven- tures—research shows that novelty and excitement heighten sexual attraction, so skip the movie and head for a climbing wall, an erotic massage class, or a spot for skinny dipping. ● Clinical psychologist and sex therapist Cheryl Fraser, Ph.D, is a writer, speaker, and meditation teacher. More mindful loving tips at drcherylfraser.com. Remember: “Love” is a verb— it takes time to be a good lover. Make Love a Priority mindful practices ms. mindful on relationships Illustration by Alessandro Gottardo