How do you nurture mindful relationships? And what is a mindful relationship anyways?
Every adult who’s had an intimate partner knows that healthy relationships take work and a lot of practice. They’re like a a garden. You can’t take it for granted. If you tend it carefully, mind the bad weather, and nurture it over time, then good things flower from the soil.
But how do you do that and how can mindfulness and meditation help?
In this episode of the OneMind podcast, we explore mindful relationships. What are they and how can you bring the fruits of your mindfulness practice into your most intimate relationships?
In the end, I find a lot of it comes down to communication and paying attention. Let me explain.
What Do Mindful Relationships Look Like?
Recently a small bolt of lightning struck my home. Not literally, but figuratively. There we were, my wife and I, moving along through our lives together when suddenly there was a flashpoint that erupted between us.
We are about to cross the 13 year threshold of our marriage. And over that time, I’ve learned that you can never predict when flashpoints are going to emerge.
They just hit when they do. And they always test your mindful presence.
Do you react? Do you lash out? Do you suppress the injured feelings? Or do you endeavor to build a bridge across the chasm that suddenly opened up between the two of you.
Recently my wife and I hit one of these flashpoints. It reminded me of why it’s so important to cultivate mindfulness every day.
For me, there’s no question that my meditation and mindfulness practice (and my wife’s training in the same) enable us to meet in these moments and forge a deeper connection.
We’ve both realized that these moments are some of the most important. And no matter how hurt one of us feels, the rewards of a mindful approach—patience, listening, renouncing the natural reactivity, and trying to understand the other side—always pays off in the form of deeper trust and intimacy.
Cultivating Non-Judgmental Awareness
The science seems to corroborate my experience. In a recent post on Psychology Today, Melanie Greenberg Ph.D. writes:
If, in the midst of a fight with your partner, you can label your angry thoughts and hurt feelings as “just my rejection script,” or if you can notice your blood pressure rising and your face getting redder, then you have a greater degree of choice about how to behave. Rather than feeling compelled to scream and attack or vigorously defend your position, you can instead choose to take a break, connect with your love for your partner, or try to understand his/her point of view. As a result, you should have reduced stress and more loving, connected relationships.
This makes sense to me. Mindfulness is a form of paying attention, non-judgmentally, to the present moment. Cultivating that skill and capacity is invaluable when the you-know-what hits proverbial fan.
In those moments, a little presence in the face of a rising hurricane of righteous indignation can make all the difference.
I bet you know exactly what I’m talking about. Pausing in the face of that inner momentum is all it takes to keep yourself from saying the thing you’ll regret and making space for your partner’s perspective.
In this episode, I share some tips on mindful relationships along with a recent story from my own life about how the mindful pause helped my wife and I navigate some tricky terrain.
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