Every couple should practice mindfulness. Without it, your relationship becomes open to “what-if’s”, doubts, and the vagaries of life. But what is mindfulness? Living in the moment. Stopping to smell the roses. What these two things have in common is the present. You’re not thinking back to the past and you’re not projecting into the future. You are observing, noticing, and allowing yourself to focus and settle in the here and now; in this moment.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, a medical doctor who runs a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, stated, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”
Blissing out or allowing your imagination to run wild is not mindfulness. Instead, you are allowing yourself to burrow into the now, to be with whatever you’re observing. You are opening up and engaging all your senses, including your intuition, to take notice and allow heartfelt acceptance of whatever you’re observing. Imagine what would transpire in your relationships if you gave 100% of your attention to this very moment with the person you are with. How would your relationships intensify and deepen if your partner knew and understood that they had all your attention, not just a portion? Now imagine a relationship where every moment you engaged with the other person was approached in this manner.
Mindfulness a way to help you enjoy more of life, to savor each day, to experience fully every moment you live. It’s about experiencing life’s deep richness in a way that engages your heart and emotions. In essence, it is a complete coming together of mind, body and spirit.
So how can you enrich your relationship by practicing mindfulness with your life partner?
Creating a Relationship of Mindfulness with Your Mate
Time. We all live lives full of responsibilities that pull us this way and that. Work, school, friends, family, home; they all seek a portion of our day. So how do we engage in mindfulness with the one who should be our number one priority? Set aside some time with your mate. To begin, a few minutes or even an hour or longer, is enough to start. As mindfulness becomes a habit over time, you’ll find that it is just the norm for how you engage your mate. Start with 15 or 20 minutes as it will allow you to relax into the moment and start to realize the benefits of a mindfulness practice.
Environment. You can’t completely focus on someone if there are distractions about. Not until mindfulness becomes a habit, that is, and you have learned to shut out all other distracting factors. Start by making sure you are both comfortable. Yes, this means explaining to your mate your goals and ensuring that they are comfortable as well. You can be laying together in bed or someplace comfortable or you can be sitting on a couch or across from each other in chairs. The key here is comfort. It’s best if you can see each other comfortably. If you’re lying down, make sure you can move easily so you can gaze upon their face and body. You may want to have blankets, low lights or gentle flickering candles to enhance the ambiance of the moment. Remember, we are not talking about sexual intimacy here. We are talking about letting mindfulness flow into you and your mate so that nothing and no one else matters more than the person you are gazing at.
Practice. Mindfulness, like most things in life, is a learned trait. It takes practice before it can become a habit. To begin, enter into a state of mindfulness by slowing down your mind. Our thoughts are said to ride on the breath. So, that being said, if we can slow down our breath, we can slow down our thoughts and allow them to settle naturally. Push aside everything except the face of your mate. Concentrate on their eyes as you take a deep breath in for a count of 4, hold it a second or two, and then exhale for a count of 4. Do this for 2 minutes or until you begin to notice that you are relaxing and your thoughts have subsided. Don’t try to stop thinking, as this will cause you to stress about not thinking. Allow the thoughts to be without attaching or engaging with them. As your body and mind relax, the intruding thoughts will cease as your focus intensifies on your mate.
Gaze at your partner. Do not speak. Talking will bring in thoughts that will distract you. Remain silent for the duration of the practice. Notice their eyes, face, body, and clothing. Sense their energy. Look into their eyes as they look into yours. The eyes are said to be the windows of the soul. Concentrate on what their eyes tell you. Don’t allow yourself to be self-conscious. Live in and relish the opportunity to gaze at and imprint the face of your mate in your memory. Just be with them.
Avoid the temptation to start thinking about what to cook for dinner or the enticement of making a mental To Do List to tackle tomorrow. These things have a time and place, but it’s not now. Keep bringing your thoughts and attention back to the moment, back to your partner. Notice everything about your partner that your senses are taking in. Open your mind and allow your sense of intuition to expand. What can you see in your mates eyes? In their face? In their body language? Try to mentally record how this all feels so that you can bring back some of these memories to enjoy in the future when your mate isn’t right in front of you. These memories will help you create mindfulness when miles may separate you and your partner.
Re-integration. It’s important to have a conclusion to this exercise; a culmination if you will. This helps reinforce the habit you are trying to learn. That being said, kiss and/or embrace at the end of your time together in this exercise. You may want to take a moment or two to share with each other what you felt or realized as a result of spending this time together. These are where our memories are made so make this time as special as you can so that you’ll want to repeat this exercise often. Slowly re-integrate into the regular activities of your day allowing the memories of this special time to remain for both of you. Like awesome sex, the last thing you should want to do is jump up and leave. Be reluctant to leave the presence of your mate.
Make it a point to create a space to practice mindfulness moments with your partner on a regular basis. This quality time will enhance and bring new levels of understanding and connection to all aspects of your relationship.
How mindfulness can help your relationship
#1 It creates the space to reconnect. Let’s face it, life is busy. Sometimes it’s hard to find moments to spend quality time with our partner, our child, our sibling, or our friend. So when you do have the time, you may want to use it to practice mindfulness together.
Mindfulness creates the space for you to have full and complete quality time with your partner. You don’t need hours. A few minutes will do. You just need time to allow all your focus to be on them.
Sitting in silence and enjoying each other fully, will trump a mindless, busy, distracted outing anytime, because the focus is on each other. This is something we generally don’t do no matter what activity we’re sharing together unless we are practicing mindfulness.
#2 Being in the moment creates appreciation of your partner’s essence. Mindfulness allows the noise of life to dissipate for a while so that you can enjoy the energy or presence of your partner. It’s not about talking or thinking. Discussions can happen at any other time. This time is about being with your loved one; fully and on purpose, engaging your mind, heart, soul, and body to communicating with your partner without word or thought. It’s about allowing your energy to be fully cognizant with theirs.
#3 Mindfulness connects you at a soulful level. No ceremony, joint bank account, commitment, or bond will ever connect you to the level you’ll achieve by regularly practicing mindfulness with your partner. It’s a time where “on-purpose attention” is at its peak. Only by connecting in a mindful manner can you truly say you are experiencing a meeting of souls.
Getting Started with Mindfulness
To get in the habit of utilizing this practice, start by yourself with everyday things. For example, while you’re driving in your car, notice the other cars as you drive. Focus your attention on their colors and speeds, the glare of the sun on the car windows, as well as the trees and homes you pass. Widen your frame of perception and notice the feel of the steering wheel as your fingers grip it, the texture of the road as your tires rumble over it and the comfort of your seat. Draw in all the world around you and experience the world with all your senses.
Try mindfulness at home. Get a drink of water. Focus on the sound of filling the glass with water, the sound of ice cubes gently bobbing against the sides of the cool, smooth glass, the splash of the water as it connects with different objects. Notice the texture of the water as it passes your lips and slides across your tongue, the temperature as it moves down your throat, the taste as it flows past your tongue. Mindfully concentrate on the entire process of getting yourself a drink of water and think of nothing else but that small moment.
By practicing throughout your day, you’ll quickly learn how to enjoy the deliciousness and richness of everyday life. Your senses will become more heightened as you hone your ability to be mindful of each moment. When you also apply this same mindfulness to your mate, your child, your friend, and others in your life, you’ll find that you’ve grown to appreciate and enjoy their presence in your life all the more!