Do you ever get in disagreements with your significant other? I do. Does it cause friction and tension in your relationship? It definitely does in mine.
And as I get older, this seems less surprising to me. I mean, most of us spend a lot of time with our partner. You go to sleep and wake up together. You share meals and a bed and a life vision. Maybe you also have children together.
Any way you slice it, it makes sense that occasionally you aren’t going to see eye to eye.
And some issues and disagreements just run deeper than others. Those can become flash points over time if they are left undressed.
But I have found that meditation can really help in this department. It’s improved my relationship skills in a lot of ways. In truth, the effects go beyond just improvements in my communication. There have been deeper effects as well.
Let me explain.
Does Meditation Improve Your Relationships Really?
Recently my wife and I had a disagreement. It was early in the morning. I can’t remember what the issue was. But by the time she left for work, we had generally resolved it. We talked it out and saw eye to eye.
And yet, it left both of us raw all day. No doubt, it’s rough starting the day with an argument, especially when you don’t squabble much to begin with. So when my wife got home, we had a hug and decided to take a walk together around the pond.
We walked in silence, taking in the sounds of the birds and watching all the runners and walkers. Eventually we found a bench by the sun-lit water and sat down. Slowly but surely, we sank into a current of meditation together.
Almost imperceptibly, the tension that lingered between us just moments before was replaced by calm intimacy. And more importantly…resolution.
We didn’t need to say a word. Just being together and letting the quiet overcome us did all the “work.” We sat there leaning against each other as our awareness expanded into the twilight. Our affection for each other felt unrestricted. Whatever was happening between us felt like a natural part of life unfolding around us. And we just sat there, unreserved silent participants.
To be honest, emerging on the other side of that disagreement, we both felt closer.
Things like that have happened before, but I don’t take them for granted. Those moments feel mysterious to me and I’m grateful. But I also know that meditation played a role in why that happened the way it did.
So what did happen and what does it have to do with meditation?
Here are three key insights that help me understand how meditation can deepen, enrich, and improve my closest relationships.
1. Grounded In A Love for Meditation
We both have a strong spiritual practice. I meditate every day for at least an hour and sometimes two. She grew up in a Muslim household with a rich prayer practice. We met on a meditation retreat fifteen years ago and lived together for many years in a residential spiritual ashram.
For both of us, meditation has always been a shared value. Not just in itself, but because it connects us to something bigger than ourselves. And to be honest, that love for the thing we connect with in meditation is a big part of what we love in each other.
So yes, I definitely think that played a part. But there’s something else.
2. Tuning In To the “Field of Awareness”
Meditation is the art of training your awareness. Over time, you realize that this practice never ends. There is always more to discover, and it becomes more subtle the more you do it.
In particular, as you train your awareness, you become more sensitive to something called the field of awareness. What is that?
Just like an electrical field or a magnetic field, our awareness also generates a subtle and invisible field.
For example, to use some dated terminology, when you pick up positive or negative “vibes” from another person, you are picking up on something in that field of awareness.
There’s a lot to say about this phenomenon. But when it comes to how meditation can improve your relationships, there a few things in particular that seem relevant.
We Are Always Communicating Beneath the Noise
First, when you start to pay attention to the field of awareness, you recognize how it illuminates your relationships.
Maybe you’ve noticed this before, but with people you’re close to, you can often pick up on what they’re thinking. Especially when it comes to more important matters. Although there may not be any outward expression, you can sense when someone is hurting, or sad, or filled with excitement or mischeif. It’s just “in the air”. That’s the field of awareness.
I’ve also noticed that you can pick up on someone’s fundamental motives or intentions if you are sensitive enough. It’s not something you look for. You just perceive it immediately. It’s a kind of communication that’s always happening between human beings, but it exists under all the noise. Meditation is one way to cultivate your sensitivity to this awareness.
For example, when you meditate, you start to appreciate silence and space. But you also notice, when you’re in relationship, that silence and space isn’t always empty. Even if neither one of you is talking. On the contrary, it’s often quite full.
What is it filled with?
It tends to be deeper currents of feeling, intention, or motivation. It can be love or joy. Or, as in the story I told, a sense of irresolution that transformed into unity.
I know, it does sound a little woo-woo.
But when you pay attention like this, it can enrich your relationships enormously. And in some ways, that’s how I relate to what happened at dusk that evening with my partner. We were both tuned in to that field and our intention was resolution, so the result was unifying.
Can you relate to this at all?
It’s like sometimes you know what your partner is thinking before they do. Or even more, you know without thinking about it. You just know. And of course, that doesn’t happen with just your wife, husband, or partner. It can happen with anyone you’re close to.
As a practice, meditation helps you become more open and receptive. You develop sensitivity to everything happening in the field of your awareness. And often, there is a lot happening on a subtle level.
You see, awareness isn’t just flat, like your computer screen or cell phone. It’s full of texture and depth and seemingly infinite scale. And just like radar or radio waves, it’s always broadcasting and receiving information, intelligence, and feeling. You can experience this directly and more consciously through mindful presence.
3. Not Taking Yourself Too Seriously
And there is another benefit of meditation that has enriched my relationships. Meditation helps me take myself a little less seriously. There’s more space for me to see my faults. It’s not all such a big deal. I’m flawed. Deeply. Obviously, that’s totally human, and I’ve found it can be a source of comic relief.
Sometimes my partner and I will laugh out loud because something will emerge in the field of our shared awareness. We don’t have to say anything at all. One of us will do or say something and then it’s like a whole unspoken picture gets triggered and emerges between us. That picture highlights one of our neurotic habits, and we both see the absurdity of it. And then we dissolve into hysterics. We laugh at ourselves and each other.
And being able to laugh in this way is incredibly therapeutic. Of course it takes two to tango, but I have to give a lot of credit to our meditation practice for giving us both the space and the sensitivity to do that.
In truth, you don’t have to meditate to have this sensitivity, but it sure helps. And meditation isn’t the only ingredient in that mix. There’s a healthy serving of hard won trust and understanding. It’s just that meditation often gives it that special flavor of space and ease.
So what do you think? Could you benefit from some of these insights? I think everyone can benefit from a little more sensitivity to the field of awareness. And of course, the world would be a much better place if we could all laugh at ourselves a little more often.
I sure like myself, and my partner, a lot better as a result.