While trekking through the Himalayan mountains of Nepal, on my way to Everest Base Camp (March 2017), I came across this sign, Lovism.
My heart was filled with warmth as I contemplated this term.
Surrounded by striking trees, mountains, and sunshine, I realized that love is everywhere all around me. I felt an intense warmth and gratitude for nature as well as my life and body in this place, at this time.
I remembered Rumi’s quote,
Through a bit of research, I learned that the red spiral of Lovism, a symbol of a sect of the Heavenly Path, represents blood and is drawn as a question mark to challenge our expression of Love towards the higher power, one another, and nature.
What does love mean to you?
Is it strictly romance, flowers, and kisses?
Does it only relate to wedding bells and diamond rings?
Although there are many different cultural interpretations of this word, one of my favorite definitions of love is “warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion.”
How can we express this warm enthusiasm towards nature, one another, divinity, and our own self?
As I walked, I started repeating one of my favorite mantras,
This blissful devotion to wonder and curiosity is a feeling that I strive to daily cultivate in my life.
Perhaps this is why during my Yoga Teacher Training at Yoga One in 2015, fellow yogi and artist, Sarah Stieber, approached me and said that she was inspired to paint me for Valentine’s Day as a queen of hearts. I was honored and surprised at this invitation, but how could I resist. We set a date and I came over for a photo shoot. With lights, camera, and action, Sarah and her partner, Christopher Kelly, directed me through their vision.
Months later Peaceful Warrior was released through local television and the famous San Diego ArtWalk in Little Italy. A couple of years later, it was featured in Bogamia Magazine. The painting sold for thousands of dollars and I am honored to display a canvas print in my own home.
Peaceful Warrior is my daily reminder to tap into the deeper love that connects us all through meditative patience. The delicate pink, of the toy guns (Supersoakers) and fun hearts, is the color of universal love of oneself and of others, associated with sweetness, playfulness, tenderness and charm.
I can’t forget to mention the fun circular red earrings, designed by Alexis Burns, that could be symbolic for connection. Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, drew a circle with a piece of red chalk and said: “When men, even unknowingly, are to meet one day, whatever may befall each, whatever their diverging paths, on the said day, they will inevitably come together in the red circle.”
The greenish halo of light could be reminiscent of a compassionate aura towards nature and others and the purple shows a connection to the higher consciousness.
Photo of my aura in Sedona, AZ (November 2017)
A few weeks ago, I was again surprised to learn that Sarah created another painting from that photo shoot, Love and War, just in time for Valentine’s Day and my renewed interest in dating!!! If you'd like to buy the original or a print, message Sarah Stieber for details, or attend her Open Studio Love Fest at 6pm on Saturday, February 17th.
Valentine’s Day is recognized as a significant cultural and commercial celebration in many regions around the world. Each year on February 14th, many people exchange cards, candy, gifts or flowers with their special “valentine” or children in the classroom setting have the opportunity to gives these small gifts to all of their classmates.
This day of romance is named for a Christian martyr and dates back to the 5th century where common legend asserts that St. Valentine rebelled against the emperor’s orders and secretly married couples, to spare the lovers from separating during war. The cards and letters grew in popularity due to the belief that someone sent a letter to him before his beheading stating, “From your Valentine.”
The romance aspect of this holiday is even more amplified as this day also has origins in more ancient Greco and Roman holidays about fertility.
Formal messages, or valentines, appeared in the 1500s, and by the late 1700s, commercially printed cards were being used. The first commercial valentines in the United States were printed in the mid-1800s. Valentines commonly depict Cupid, the Roman god of love, along with symbolic hearts (Britannica).
Although some call this Single Awareness Day, whether I’m single, dating, or in a relationship, my heart beams on this day as it is a special opportunity to give love to myself and everyone that I come in contact with, even if its just saying “Happy Valentines Day!” with a smile, to the grocer, neighbor, or homeless person in the park. On this day especially, I like to emphasize the importance of looking for the unity, spreading love, being of service, expressing positive emotions and feeling good.
Loving Myself through Yoga Poses (Asanas)
A couple of months ago I decided that I was ready to start dating again. I’ve been devoted to loving myself and I nurturing my solo journey for the last two years. However, I realized that I was ready to connect and learn from others in this way. I picked up Rachel Scott’s new book, Head Over Heels: A Yogi’s Guide to Dating, and it made my heart sing! She highlights what I had been feeling already, “Love is not about one person; love is expressed in all of our relationships and understanding of our own intrinsic wholeness.”
Playing the dating game is important to our human experience, similar to the tantric concept, "I am a spiritual being having a human experience." I’ve found that Tinder is a powerful vessel for evolving my human potential. Through texting and casual dates over the last couple of months, I’ve been inspired by hearing about their journey. We’ve exchanged our thoughts on books, music, places, foods, hikes, and philosophies. It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to keep my 5th Throat Chakra balanced and open. I listen and ask questions, devoting my present now awareness, and share my authentic stories of life lessons with confidence.
Opening the Throat Chakra, energy center relating to authentic communication
In what ways are you loving, nurturing and committing to yourself?
This time around, I’m more tuned in with my inner guide of intuition. I’m not trying to mold myself into what they want, but instead, let my inner love for myself shine through authentically. “Romantic love is expansive and inclusive, not a union about sacrifice and compromise.” If I feel a resistance to someone, even if they seems “great on paper,” I accept this as my intuition saying no, then I politely decline a future date and send gratitude for the opportunity to meet and chat.
Lao Tzu teaches, “Be really whole and all things will come to you.”
Earlier this week, I looked in the mirror the night before a breakfast date. I wondered if he was going to notice that I’ve gained a few pounds (winter holidays) since my posted photos. My egoic, small-self started worrying that he would notice the zit on my chin or wouldn’t like my dress. Rachel reminds us that “When we go on a date, the fundamental uncertainty and shiftiness of the world are exposed, and we can practice returning to the unshakeable ground of our Big Self. Here we can have less fear and more possibility in the game of dating…we are creating the world and collective identity…Worry is hoping for something bad to happen.” So, as soon as I noticed this nervousness, I tuned back into that knowing that “I am whole. I am patient. I am love.”
I decided to get up super early the next morning to practice many of my favorite morning exercises that help me be more connected with my Higher Self (Limbs of Patanjali's Path to Enlightenment in paranthesis). Starting with restorative Child’s Pose and Legs-Up-the Wall postures (Asanas), I practiced extended breathing with retention (Pranayama), recited my favorite list of affirmations, rang my singing bowl (Dharana), flowed through the Tibetan Rite Kriyas (Pranayama and Asana), and finished with twists (Saucha-Niyama) and a long headstand (striving for Dhyana) to keep my head below my heart, before setting out for a walk in my favorite nature space, Balboa Park, to watch the sunrise.
From this place of blissful knowing, I was able to stay peaceful in the present moment, like the Peaceful Warrior, careful to not let my imagination tell stories and build expectations. Instead of, “I hope he likes me and I land a next date,” I’m entering into this unknown with a peaceful curiosity, “What can I learn from this today?”
Standing in front of Klimt's The Kiss on a solo trip to Vienna, Austria
When I teach private piano lessons, I encourage my students to tap into this peaceful space of warmth and compassion for themselves and their imperfections by placing a “Love Yourself” stamp on their sheet music, when they complete a song in their Piano book.
“One has just to be oneself. The moment you accept yourself as you are, all burdens simply disappear. Then life is a sheer joy, a festival of lights.” -Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Osho)
Our culture, and most cultures from around the world, try to send us the message that we need a romantic partner to complete us. When I was riding in a car on the way to visit the Taj Mahal in Agra, from Delhi, our driver kept playing Bollywood music videos on the screen. Most of them were about longing and drama for a romantic partner. We are constantly reminded that we are not enough. Non-clinging is a part of the Yamas or Universal Morality Guidelines as outlined by Patanjali. This is why a daily meditation practice of affirmations is so important. We can raise higher and happier than these lower vibration emotions.
I send these daily affirmations into the universe:
Love is everywhere, all around me.
Hannah seeks to find relationships between nature, cultures, yoga, and art through her writing.
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My Paintings are now on Yoga Pants!
Fun Yoga in the Park
Travel the world with me through yoga!
These themed lessons are fun for all ages and levels at Mission Bay Park.
See the page, Park Yoga, for more information!
Lessons from Abroad