“I think the reason we’re seeing so much interest now in mindfulness is that, as a species, we’re starving for authentic experience.” Jon Kabat-Zinn The statement, be present in your relationship can feel a little like a vague suggestion. Be authentic and experience acceptance and gratitude may help paint a clearer picture of how to help that happen. When we purposely pay attention to the present moment with no judgment, we begin to bring mindfulness to our relationship.
How often in your relationship are you accepting of the moment in which you find yourself? Are you able to let go of needing to label everything good or bad? Are you bringing the real you to your relationship? Are you true to yourself and accepting of your partner?
Most of us are frantically running, with our schedules crammed; constantly feeling rushed and interrupted. Too often we lack time for our relationship, but we find time to watch television, play video or online games and get absorbed in our phones. We are reluctant to admit that we may be using our busyness to escape or hide from ourselves or from our relationships. How often are you showing up in your relationships? When was the last time that you were still, without distraction? What might happen if we scheduled time, even 10 minutes a day to do nothing but be?
If the answer to the question, “Am I showing up authentically in my life?” is No, then chances are you are not feeling content and happy in your life. As Desiderius Erasmus pointed out, “It is the chiefest point of happiness that a man is willing to be what he is.”
In order to be authentic and true to ourselves, we first must know ourselves. We must pay attention to our thoughts, feelings and behavior. When we ask our self, “Am I okay with who and where I am right now?” if the answer is No, the next question is: What is the story that I am telling myself that is leading to dissatisfaction? What sort of judgment am I passing on myself or on my partner?
E.E. Cummings said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” It takes courage to slow down and admit that you might be feeling disconnected, possibly even disconnected from yourself. It requires great courage to be okay with what is; to let go of the need to control and order things in your world the way you think they should be.
When we learn to stay in the moment with our partner, we are less inclined to judge. Perhaps their way is not wrong, just different. Extending acceptance and compassion to our partner may open space in our relationship for more happiness to grow. Perhaps we will also be less inclined to judge ourselves harshly, making it easier for us to show up authentically.
Bringing mindfulness to your relationship is something that needs ongoing practice.
Try the following as ways to practice mindfulness in your relationship:
- Attentive Listening. How often do you half listen to your partner? If you find yourselves having a conversation like, “You didn’t tell me that we had to …,” “Yes I did tell you …” chances are you could benefit from practicing attentive listening. That means listening with your eyes and both ears when your partner is talking to you.
- Stop and Breathe. When you feel upset with your partner, stop and breathe before you launch into your defense. Make it a slow deep breath where you put your focus on your breath.
- Mindful Walk. Walk together and feel the connection flow between you as your hands touch. Be open and aware of the sights, sounds and smells. Hear your partner’s voice and their breathing, as well as your own.
- Mindful Speaking. Pause before speaking to consider the impact of what and how you are about to speak. Speak from a place of peace. Choose to act rather than re-act. Also pay attention to how your partner seems to be feeling as you are speaking.
- Spend Time in Nature Together. Go to the park. Take a hike along the river or up a mountain if you have that opportunity. Spending time in nature has a calming influence and helps to ground us and recharge our inner sense of connection to our earth.
Bringing more mindfulness to your relationship allows you to be aware of and feel your feelings, without allowing them to hi-jack you. It may help bring greater peace and harmony to your relationship.