Relationships with others is so interesting and so multi-dimensional. In todays fast paced world many of our most important relationships go unnoticed or taken for granted. Cultivating a state of mindfulness can help us gain greater insight to ourselves as well as more compassion for others and the ones we love. Scientific evidence is only recently emerging that shows the role of mindfulness in enhancing the qualities of our relationships. When we are more mindful we increase our feelings of empathy and greater acceptance of our partners which help us deal with life stresses. It can help nurture our connections with others. There are several ways to begin mindfulness meditation practice, but let’s keep it simple for now. Choose a quiet space, sit for five minutes and breathe. Focus on your breath in and out – breathe normally. Your thoughts will come and go like clouds passing overhead, this is normal, our minds are like that. Let them go, let them pass by, get back to focusing on the breath. You do not need to anything more than this for your mind to slow down, take a break from it’s constant thinking. Slow down, breathe, just for a moment. It all helps.
As you develop your mindfulness practice you begin to pay attention to your world around you in a new and open way. The goal is to pay attention to what is going well in your life, savor the world around you and pay attention to what you love and appreciate. Do you notice the things around you as your walk? Do you notice what your partner says or does? What do you love and appreciate about your partner? With all of the technology available to us today we often forget to turn off the phone or computer and actually look and listen to our partner. How many times have you been in a restaurant and see couples on their phones and not looking or talking to each other?Take the time to listen, pay attention, be mindful of who you are with.
John Gottman the author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, The Relationship Cure, and What makes love last? calls this “building your emotional bank account.” Happy couples are always looking for ways to appreciate each other. They show with small actions how appreciative they are – through warmth, affection and touch. The little things do count! Notice when your partner is doing something that you appreciate and make a point of saying Thank You or what you appreciated with some detail added in. By being mindful and noticing these things you build a culture of appreciation, fondness, positive feelings and admiration. This can be done with:
- a tender touch
- a kiss
- express affection
- surprise them with a thought – for example buying them a special food they love
- sending a text of love, gratitude, appreciation
- taking time to know and be known
We all like to be noticed, appreciated, thanked, touched and loved. Start today….let your partner mirror your actions. What ways do you show your appreciation to your loved ones? Please share below so others can learn from your ideas.