Mindfulness is a lifestyle, rather than a life choice, and where better to apply it than the most important aspect of your life - your relationships. Research has shown that more mindful individuals have higher relationship quality. Here are five tips and mindfulness techniques that will help enhance your connection with your partner and improve your love life:
Active listening is a mindfulness technique that is often misunderstood. It sounds fairly obvious, but when was the last time you stopped, took a pause and actually listened to what your partner was saying, instead of mentally formulating your next response? Listening actively means fully concentrating on what is being said, rather than just passively ‘hearing’ the message of the speaker. There is a big difference between hearing and listening that often goes overlooked in everyday conversation. Next time you’re talking to your partner make a conscious decision to listen to and understand the message they are trying to get across. It may surprise you.
Following on from this, active listening helps to make the user more presentin the conversation. Too often we get stuck thinking about what has happened and what will happen, as opposed to what is happening right now. Regular mindfulness practice changes the areas of the brain associated with directing attention and focus, which helps us get better at concentrating on the present moment. This is vital in appreciating what your partner is doing in the now, as opposed to colouring their behaviour with or comparing it to their historical actions or your expectations. Appreciating your partner goes a long way, as positive interactions are the basis upon which liking grows and love blossoms.
3. Verbal Communication
Communicating that appreciation is vital to a successful relationship. It is much easier to vocalise distaste than appreciation, and much harder to accurately express what was intended when clouded by anger or frustration. Communicating mindfully means being conscious of your words and their effect on your partner. Words spoken in a moment of anger can cause long term and deep hurt, even if they weren’t meant. Consider replacing accusations such as “you never” or “you always” with “I feel” and “I would like”. These phrases steer you away from the blame game and help to focus on your own feelings – whilst communicating to your partner that you’re willing to see both sides of the discussion. As well as communicating your feelings mindfully, putting yourself in their shoes and exhibiting understanding and empathy go a long way too.
4. Self awareness
Communicating your emotions accurately and mindfully also feeds into self awareness, and being aware of where your emotions are coming from. If you find yourself getting irritated with your partner after coming home from a busy, hassled day at work, you can perhaps ask yourself if your frustrations are indeed coming from them, or being influenced by outside forces. Perception is vital to human experience and one of the few things we can control. Clear your head and make sure you are being fair to your partner. They should be a supportive sounding board, not a verbal punch bag.
5. Stop and breathe
Finally, stop and breathe. There are a multitude of mindfulness techniques surrounding breathing and their importance cannot be understated. Taking a few long deep breaths and counting to 5 on each inhale and exhale can be enough to clear your head, displace anger to think clearly and totally change your perspective. Breathing reduces anxiety and stress, and calms the heart rate. For a process that is required for human survival, it is something many of us don’t pay enough active attention to.