Some Mindful Reflections for St Valentine's Day

Whilst this month’s mindful reflections have focused on manging change in our lives, it would seem a little remiss of me not to acknowledge this week’s secularised celebration of an early Christian martyr. This affords an opportunity to reflect on our relationship with change and our need for love and connection. These two forces and our relationship to them are incredibly powerful in determining the quality of our experience in life.

• The more comfortable we are with change the better our quality of experience is likely to be.

• The more deeply we feel a sense of love and connection within ourselves the better our quality of experience is likely to be.

The modern celebration of Valentine’s Day focuses on the desire for romantic love in our lives and while romantic love is undeniably a wonderful feeling, releasing dopamine into our system as a reward, it is as a consequence transient, causing a need to look elsewhere for the next “fix” of romantic love or connection in their life.

How do we typically find this fix?

Contemporary marketing invariably focuses on targeting our primary dopamine drivers, food. The romantic meal, the box of chocolates, champagne & wine. As I discovered on my recent podcast with Dr Michelle Irving, where we discussed the gut micro biome, some 90% of our dopamine is manufacture in the gut. What we eat can directly determine how we feel and if we are not mindful of this we can eat and drink ourselves into an unhealthy state.

In the famous psycho-philosophical model of our human needs, Abraham Maslow puts the need to belong and find love in the centre of the pyramid, above our physiological needs (food, water, warmth and rest) and our need for safety. The is similar to the Robbins/ Madanes model of the 6 human needs, although in their model, 4 of the 6 needs are of equal impact depending on our personal experience in life.

The top of Maslow’s model is not love, but Self Actualisation, the degree to which we achieve our full potential, essential an unassailable feeling of worth. A sense of deep and abiding love and connection with our sense of self.

And so, back to mindfulness, which is a process by which we can learn to pay more careful and discerning attention to the urges and wants to our lives and develop a healthier ability to nurture and care for our needs in a manner that does less harm to ourselves and most importantly, less harm to others.

I hope to see you soon 😊

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