Is mindfulness a foundation skill for healthy relationships? My response is an emphatic “Yes!”.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the non-judgmental noticing of whatever is arising moment-to-moment. It is a cultivation of allowing and ‘being with.’
My personal regular mindfulness practice spans decades. I started from the humble beginnings of a gentle recommendation from a friend. I replied “I don’t have time to sit still and do nothing. I am too busy.”
Eventually, experiences of personal crises convinced me to invest in meditation. Then, I struggled with sorting through how to get started. I explored various resources, through trial and error, became really confused, and it took weeks of frustrated seeking before I found resources that spoke to me.
My personal journey and the weeks of confusion are some of the reasons I created the 30 Day Meditation Kickstart program. It provides sequential guidance and support over the course of starting a regular daily meditation practice.
Positive Relationship Changes
It took a few weeks of regular practice before I started to notice shifts in how I was relating to myself and to others. One of the first shifts was to notice my thoughts. For the first time, I was able to ‘hear’ the critical, harsh ways I spoke to myself. In speaking this way to my self, no wonder I passed on the criticism in other areas of my life!
A second shift was noticing the space between when something happened in my life and when I acted upon it. Before meditation, I reacted. Something happened, and that stimulus was a trigger for my immediate habitual actions. Meditation opened up the opportunity to pause, and in that pause was a noticing of those habitual patterns along with a freedom to choose how to respond. And that has made all the difference.
Here’s why mindfulness is so important in relationships and what you can do …
Especially when the stakes are high in marriage or other committed romantic relationships, healthy relating takes skills. One of the things that make it even harder in romantic relationships is the strong emotions that arise that can be powerful influences on your behavior.
Relational skills all require a foundation of mindfulness, both when you are starting to practice them and to maintain them over time. Some of those skills include:
- Presence: Mindfulness empowers your full focus, head and heart, on what your partner is sharing.
- Self-connection: Mindfulness opens up the world of your sensations and thoughts. You can observe them and be aware of them. In intimate relationships, this self-connection is a gateway of knowledge about what is important to you, and provides the self-awareness to share your inner life with your partner.
- Pausing: Mindfulness builds the skills of taking a moment. Resting in that moment presents opportunities. There are opportunities for self-compassion, to self-soothe, and to connect to more ease & choice. There are opportunities to remember what you most value. There are opportunities to let go of beliefs that have arisen in this moment but no longer serve you. There are opportunities to consider alternatives for how to show up.
- Self-regulation: Mindfulness provides a foundation to transform your relationship to your emotions. Emotions are messages. Emotions can be uncomfortable. Emotions can be a powerful motivator of behaviors. Mindfulness encourages you to allow these feelings, to be with them, and to be curious about what is at their root. Often, there is comfort in being with your feelings and naming them. Your confidence is bolstered by repetitions of feeling uncomfortable feelings and choosing not to allow them to ‘be in charge’ of how you act.
- Choice: Mindfulness gives space for choosing to remember what is most important, choosing what to say and how to say it, choosing how to act.
Maybe you’ve tried meditation before and it ‘wasn’t for you’?
Or maybe you have established mindfulness practices but continue to struggle in bringing mindfulness to your intimate relationships?
My intention is to provide other options to support you in building your skills for mindfulness, allowing them to transform you and your intimate relationships. Please explore the options for learning and practice offered here and reach out to me if you’d benefit from a consultation specific to where you are in your journey.
30 Day Meditation Kickstart
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