by Liberty Stembridge, Relationships Columnist
Published in Relationships on 20th August, 2018
Mindfulness is the practice of being present in your everyday life, stopping and slowing down to take note of and enjoy the moment your in. Of course, it's not possible to be 100% present in every single moment of every single day, but by using meditation and other tools, we can learn to become more present in our everyday lives, and this can benefit our relationships.
The biggest killer of relationships worldwide is simple not remaining present and engaged with your partner and in the relationship. So many relationships end because the couple drifts apart, with work and other commitments coming before the relationship itself. We often come back from a long hard day and spend a lot of time on our phones or watching TV, but neglect to actually speak and connect with the people around us. Practicing mindfulness can really help to bring you back into the present moment and remain grateful of the people around you. When we are meditating, we are fully present, and by continuing this practice on in to everyday life, you'll find yourself being able to connect and rejuvenate your relationships with others. It's oftentimes the difference between scrolling through your phone while your partner is talking, or actually engaging and listening, which can have profound effects.
Compassion is often lacking in our day-to-day lives. It's not always our fault, it's easy to get distracted and caught up in our own thoughts and worries that we forget to think about others and try to truly emphasize. However, it's important that we do make an effort to try and be more compassionate within our relationships. With more compassion comes more understanding, more compromise and more love. Luckily, mindfulness can help. By taking the time every day to connect with ourselves, chill out, re-evaluate and get some perspective, it's a whole lot easier to start cultivating some compassion. When we aren't so caught up in the day to day worries that are going on in our mind, it's far more natural to start extending some of that compassion to other people.
Meditation is a key component of mindful living, and when we meditate it is often said that we move into a state of love. Sounds ridiculous, but it does have some science behind it. Turns out that when we practice non-attachment, and step away from our inner chatter, it's a lot easier to be loving to ourselves and to the world around us. Our brains naturally start to calm down and become more grateful for simple things such as the breath, and the people around us. It's not difficult to see how this can benefit our relationships - when we cultivate a more loving and grateful mindset, our relationships start to thrive.
Mindfulness can make a huge difference when it comes to how we argue and over what. In a lot of arguments, the two parties start devolving into blaming each other, having intense negative reactions and potentially getting verbally or physically aggressive. These kinds of arguments can have a big impact on our relationships, especially if they aren't resolved properly. When we practice mindfulness however, we train our brains to become calmer and more tempered. We find it easier to control and not be overwhelmed by negative emotions or urges to lash out, and we often find that we can empathize and listen to the other side a lot better. This helps to create much more productive arguments, or even stop arguments before they start.
Its easy to not think before we speak, to wander through life just saying whatever pops into our head or react with whatever hot-headed emotion comes up first. This isn't very helpful when you're trying to create a peaceful relationship where you're both happy. If both of you are constantly making jabs, mean comments or even just comments that are thoughtless and insensitive by accident, the relationship will quickly devolve. When we practice mindfulness, it becomes a lot easier to understand and regulate what we say. We're much more likely not to want to say hurtful things in the first place, and if we do, it's a lot easier to think about it and re-word the sentence into something a lot more kind and productive.
When we live mindfully, and take time to reflect and connect with ourselves, we naturally start to develop a better understanding of ourselves. It can be as simple as beginning to work out what makes you angry, sad, happy etc. When we develop this more in-depth understanding of ourselves it becomes a lot easier to communicate what we want and how we feel to the people around us, and these open lines of communication are vital for a healthy relationship. We can become more aware of when we feel we are in the right, and when we need to take a step back and apologize.
Practicing mindfulness allows us to better understand and deal with our emotions, allowing us to become a lot more independent. Regular practitioners report feeling a lot more in control of their emotions, without having to rely on others for so much support - which can be draining for a loved one. This independence leads to a much healthier relationship, where you are both responsible for yourselves, but work together as a team.
The short answer is no, it's not absolutely necessary for both parties in a relationship to practice meditation: but it can be very beneficial if you do. If you're both on board with trying to live more mindfully and treat your relationship as such, it's likely that you'll find a much easier flow and be able to communicate better. Of course, not all of your friends, family and so on will be open to the idea of meditation/mindfulness, and that's okay - you can still improve your relationships using the same principles.