February 14, 2017 | by Michelle Meier

TIPS ON TUESDAYS are weekly tips offering you therapeutic yoga poses to help you improve your health, combat stress or recover from an injury and/or mindfulness techniques to give you that extra boost you need.

Today's Tip is a little different from the usual.  My heart led me to write about this...

The brigade of men lining up at Whole Foods this morning to buy roses was almost comical but to be expected on Valentine's Day.  Some looked excited about the beautiful bouquets they were buying; others looked annoyed, like it's another thing they "have to do" to make their significant other happy.

Those who are trying to make others happy or looking to others for their happiness often end up being the unhappiest.  Expectations not met.  Dreams unfulfilled.  Because it's all hinging on someone else.

Whether you're in a relationship with a significant other or not, the most important relationship of all is the one with yourself.  Remember, happiness can really and truly only come from within.  It is a choice.

If you follow my social media and blog, you know I talk a lot about self-love.  I talk about it this much because it's something I've struggled with for many years and am only really just getting the hang of now.

I used to think it would come across as pompous or self-centered to "love myself first".  As I get older, it has taken on a whole new meaning.

Loving myself means so many things.  It means taking care of my body by feeding it with nourishing foods and plenty of water. Though I'll be the first to tell you that I'm happy as a clam drinking martinis here or there.  Everything in moderation!  BTW, what studies have proven the happiness levels of clams??  Well you get the drift...

It means exercising and stretching to maintain or improve my strength and flexibility.  Yoga gives me this and so much more.  It means getting enough rest.  I used to push myself to the point of exhaustion because I wanted to be "good enough".  Good enough for whom??  How about myself?

Loving myself means being able to stand in front of a mirror naked and, instead of nitpicking at the things I want to change, embracing every curve and imperfection as beautiful.  I am--WE ARE--after all, God's creation.  It is a mirace we are even alive.

It means being mindful with my thoughts.  How often have I gone down a negative spiral of thoughts, thinking worst case scenario and playing into my fears?  It's so easy and tempting to do so, isn't it?  Now I catch myself in it and gently redirect my thoughts to things I want to create in my life.  

This is sometimes easier said than done.  Sometimes I stop and take a few deep mindful breaths before I can shift into more positive thoughts.  And sometimes I let myself go down the path of negativity just to get it out, thinking "what's the worst that can happen?"  "Then what?"  And I realize the answers are never as bad as my fears make them out to be.

That's the key.  To love yourself, you have to open your heart.  We've spent years putting up walls around our hearts based on past experiences and past hurts and it keeps us from growing and experiencing new and different kinds of love.

Opening your heart isn't always all roses and rainbows.  

It means being real with yourself.  There are some days I've been in a really dark place mentally (you know, the whole "woe is me" or "what's the point?" glumness and dejectedness towards life).  When it arises I don't push it away.  Sometimes I momentarily detach from it with yoga or a glass of wine but I come back to it.  I don't keep avoiding it or trying to run away from it.  I journal about it.  I dance it, letting my movements express my emotions.  I let myself feel it.

Did you know the word "courage" originates from the Latin word "coeur" meaning "heart"?  

Yes, it takes courage to keep an open heart in spite of the hurt or pain you feel.  That's the gold right there. Even though your heart may be hurting, keep it open and rejoice in things you do have to be grateful for.  This seemingly insignificant shift can make a significant impact in how you experience your life.

I hope that wherever you are today, whomever your with or if you're in your own glorious company, that you have the courage to keep your heart open--today and always.

Happy Valentine's Day from my heart to yours.