In recent years, the premise of being mindful has garnered popularity that transcends yogis and meditation buffs. Though the practice originated from Buddhist monks, mindfulness is now an über trendy buzzword that frequently pops up all over the internet, in scholarly research and wellness blogs alike. The rise in popularity of this topic is further indication that a little mindfulness is something we can all use in our lives.
Mindfulness is the moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts and feelings, as well as the states of our bodies. It is more than simply being present; mindfulness heavily relies on leaving the past where it belongs – in the past. And finally, it means ridding ourselves of the self-judgment and essentially accepting our past choices, whether they were right or wrong.
Though it is a concept typically discussed in an individualistic sense, it’s important to note that mindfulness doesn’t just enhance individual well-being but also plays an integral role in our interpersonal relationships. Studies suggest that mindful practices can increase empathy, compassion, and lower stress and depression – all individualist traits that have a tendency to bleed into our romantic lives. Mindfulness is also said to be helpful in tuning out distractions (self-doubt being a big one) as well as external hindrances. Here a few tips for being mindful in your current relationship:
Be cognizant of your actions and how they affect your partner.
It sometimes can be difficult to step outside of ourselves and our feelings, particularly during times of emotional duress; however, those times of difficulty are when we need to reflect outwardly the most. Look at your relationship objectively: how are your actions, moods and words affecting your partner? Being aware of not only your actions, but also their ripple effect, is simply healthy practice, in or out of a relationship.
Being mindful largely involves accepting yourself and your own decisions and that acceptance should extend to our partners. Grudge-holding is the enemy of important relationship growth, so learn to let things go, and maybe your partner will return the favour. Acceptance is also a wonderful way to foster a safe atmosphere between you and your partner, where communication is welcomed.
Pause during conflict.
In any relationship, romantic or otherwise, difficult moments are to be expected. But when faced with conflict with your partner, saying things in haste or rage can further escalate the disagreement and ultimately create more problems. If we can pause before a conversation gets heated, we can break the pattern of making mindless assertions based in in-the-moment frustration.
Be present instead of looking back.
We all harbour insecurities from past relationships and it can be hard to let that baggage go. But a big part of being in a relationship is allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, which can be difficult if you’re dealing with a broken heart that predates your current relationship. Meditation is a good way to focus on the right now, and when you rediscover your ability to fully live in the present, you may also be able to regain your sense of hope for the future. Meditation is also a good way to centre yourself and stabilize your mental state, making you better equipped to deal with emotional hurt, and perhaps lending some well-needed clarity to things that have happened in the past. Sometimes all it takes to let past romantic turbulence go is to accept that there is nothing left to do but move forward.
Being mindful is not inherent behaviour for anyone. It is normal for our minds to linger on past experiences, to have regrets and to foster doubts. The practice of mindfulness is not always easy and maybe an active and taxing practice (at least at first). But what you stand to gain is well worth it: a deeper, longer lasting connection with your partner, and overall contentedness.