What is a Mindful Relationship?
It’s a fact—lack of effective communication (or the lack of MINDFUL COMMUNICATION) is a leading cause of divorce, the breakdown of relationships between parents and children, as well as between employees and their employers.
There is no doubt that communication in all types of relationships can make or break them, but changing how we relate to one another is easier said than done. This is because of inherited or past communication patterns that can quickly lead to hurt feelings or emotional disconnection. What’s more, most people don’t have the knowledge, skills or the time to invest in changing how they behave.
By learning skills of how to be more fully present and mindful in our relationships we can transform them from relationships that are struggling or suffering to relationships that are thriving.
New and effective communication skills can be quickly applied even to the most challenging or difficult relationships. For more information please refer to the bestselling, award winning guide to transforming your relationships: Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with Easy to Learn, Proven Communication Skills. A free excerpt is available at www.changingbehavior.org.
Mindful Ed Resources to learn how to have Mindful Relationships
Keys to a Mindful Relationship
I have been very blessed to be in a long term loving marriage. As I happily enter my third decade with my husband I feel I can share my own thoughts and experiences on what the magic is for a long and healthy relationship. But these principals apply to all our relationships, whether they are with a friend, colleague or family member.
1) Focus firstly on yourself
I believe it is a very simple recipe and it is the same one I apply to myself, my parenting journey as well as being a wife, a friend etc. That is to focus first and foremost on myself. To be the healthiest version of myself. To be fully accountable and responsible for myself in thought, word and deed. By not expecting my husband, son or friend to do that for me I don't give my power away, and anything they do contribute is a total bonus. Taking time for your own self care is essential.
It is so important to speak our own truth. I have learnt to be as Mindful of my own needs in relationships with others as I am of their needs. It is essential to also tune in to others and ask after them, but while
really listening to their response. They know we are listening because we actually comment on what it was
that they said, without immediately going to a story about ourselves that came up for us. Practicing this
empathetic way of listening is essential to good, healthy communication.
3) Be more present
In the age of the mobile phone, 24 hour TV and long working days, it is very easy to become so
distracted by events happening anywhere other than right in front of us. Time is the same for all of us, but
how present and aware we are makes all the difference in our relationships with others. I notice this in
particular when I am on holiday, or out at a restaurant, where it seems that many people are so busy
documenting the event, or spending it with someone that isn't with them at the time via their phone.
It is also essential to notice your own thoughts distracting you away from a moment you are having with
someone else. Our own thoughts can prevent us from being fully present as well. When you become aware of these things you can make some ground rules for yourself.
4) Be yourself and let others be themselves too!
I think my own 'love affair' with myself really began when I started to truly acknowledge what made me 'me' and not try and change this for anyone else. It is a real act of self love to accept yourself 'warts and all!' and then honor your own needs. But the real gifts start flowing when you also offer this gift to others. By allowing someone else to be themselves, you take away your judgement and this helps them feel fully accepted by you. For example some people appear 'stressed' when they are driving, others feel anxious when they have to cook, a mindful relationship is when we allow someone to have these expressions of themselves and not criticise them or request they 'stop' expressing themselves. When we allow ourselves to have our own feelings and emotions and just notice them, rather than attaching any particular significance to them it is a very freeing experience. When we allow others to have their feelings and emotions and be themselves in every way we are then in a Mindful Relationship and the gifts will flow from that healthy way of relating.
Learning how to use our own passions, hopes, dreams and gifts to enhance our own life and then encouraging this in others brings peace and harmony to the world, as people begin to experience their own flow.
5) Be empathetic and show compassion
Blame, shame, criticism and judgement are the poisons in our relationships with our self and others. The opposite of this is empathy and compassion. Learning how to stand in someone else's shoes, and showing them that we acknowledge their experience and understand how they are feeling is the marking of a truly mindful relationship. Being there fully for someone in their hour of need without requiring anything in return is a true act of love. Loving someone without conditions is the highest form of love. Remember however, healthy relating, is only giving as much of ourselves, our time and resources that we have left over, spare, to give. If we have worked hard enough to keep our own cup full, then there will be reserves left over for others. Small and random acts of kindness go a long way in mindful relationships.
6) Forgiving ourselves and others
Key to having loving relationships is allowing them to ebb and flow. Acknowledging if we have harmed someone in anyway, whether intentionally or not, and showing we are genuinely sorry for that is key. Forgiving someone, if we feel they have wronged us as well is equally as important. This does not mean allowing abusive behaviour to be part of our relationships with others. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for yourself is to leave a relationship which is abusive and causing you extreme pain and harm. But if the relationship is able to be saved and is going through tough times, you might need to take some time out, and give each other some space, until emotions have calmed down, and then with love, be open to admitting your own fault and asking for forgiveness, or by sharing with someone else how their actions (or inaction) has hurt you and asking to work together to find a solution is important for having a healthy and mindful relationship.
7) Allow for space and peace. Create healthy boundaries.
Part of acknowledging your own needs, is learning to say 'no', especially at times when you 'notice that you are feeling tired, uncomfortable, or needing to focus on some self care. In this busy world taking time out when you need it, and keeping time for solitude and silence brings you back to calm. Allowing those you love time to just 'be' and not needing to be constantly in 'doing mode' is essential to creating a healthy mindful relationship. It is important to create healthy boundaries in each of your relationships, where you acknowledge someone else's need for privacy, reflection time and solitude.
Recommended Books on Mindful Relationships
If you are seeking to have more mindful relationships, I highly recommend the following books to help you on your journey. These books have profoundly impacted me on my own journey towards only having loving and healthy relationships in my own life. These books are literally life changing books. I recommend them in the order listed here. I wish you all the very best on your own journey.
by John Welwood
While most of us have moments of loving freely and openly, it is often hard to sustain this where it matters most—in our intimate relationships. Why, if love is so great and powerful, are human relationships so challenging and difficult? If love is the source of happiness and joy, why is it so hard to open to it fully and let it govern our lives? In this book, John Welwood addresses these questions and shows us how to overcome the most fundamental obstacle that keeps us from experiencing love's full flowering in our lives.
Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships begins by showing how all our relational problems arise out of a universal, core wounding around love that affects not only our personal relationships but the quality of life in our world as a whole. This wounding shows up as a pervasive mood of unlove—a deep sense that we are not intrinsically lovable just as we are. And this shuts down our capacity to trust, so that even though we may hunger for love, we have difficulty opening to it and letting it circulate freely through us.
This book takes the reader on a powerful journey of healing and transformation that involves learning to embrace our humanness and appreciate the imperfections of our relationships as trail-markers along the path to great love. It sets forth a process for releasing deep-seated grievances we hold against others for not loving us better and against ourselves for not being better loved. And it shows how our longing to be loved can magnetize the great love that will free us from looking to others to find ourselves.
Written with penetrating realism and a fresh, lyrical style that honors the subtlety and richness of our relationship to love itself, this revolutionary book offers profound and practical guidance for healing our lives as well as our embattled world.
by Jett Psaris, Marlena S Lyons
This book precisely maps a unique journey that turns the problems and conflicts that inevitably arise in relationships into opportunities for deeper connection. Illuminating case studies, guided self-inquiries, and challenging exercises help you discover how to engage your partner in a deeper dialogue and find ways of expressing the most profound and untamed aspects of your nature.
Closeness, reciprocity, and getting needs met are not the purpose of relationship. The point of relationships is to mirror back our cracked identities so that we can heal and reconnect with our essence, our own core. This seems counterintuitive: that relationships are suppose to agitate us, to reveal our "broken toes."
"Most people think of love as a feeling," says David Richo, "but love is not so much a feeling as a way of being present." In this book, Richo offers a fresh perspective on love and relationships—one that focuses not on finding an ideal mate, but on becoming a more loving and realistic person.
Drawing on the Buddhist concept of mindfulness, How to Be an Adult in Relationships explores five hallmarks of mindful loving and how they play a key role in our relationships throughout life:
1. Attention to the present moment; observing, listening, and noticing all the feelings at play in our relationships.
2. Acceptance of ourselves and others just as we are.
3. Appreciation of all our gifts, our limits, our longings, and our poignant human predicament.
4. Affection shown through holding and touching in respectful ways.
5. Allowing life and love to be just as they are, with all their ecstasy and ache, without trying to take control.
When deeply understood and applied, these five simple concepts—what Richo calls the five A's—form the basis of mature love. They help us to move away from judgment, fear, and blame to a position of openness, compassion, and realism about life and relationships. By giving and receiving these five A's, relationships become deeper and more meaningful, and they become a ground for personal transformation.
Mindful Relationships: Creating genuine connection with ourselves and others
by Richard Chambers Margie Ulbrick
We are now experiencing what is being called 'the mindfulness revolution', as increasingly people become aware of the benefits of mindfulness in all aspects of daily life. Mindful Relationships focuses on individuals, couples, families, groups and businesses to provide a practical guide for using mindfulness to enrich relationships and more effectively manage the stresses associated with dispute resolution and conflict.
The authors clearly and engagingly explore how we can use mindfulness to:
Develop a more compassionate, friendly relationship with ourselves and others
Increase awareness of our own and others'relational patterns
Calm and soothe our emotions and be there for others
Communicate more effectively
Enhance connection and empathy
Reduce defensive patterns, allowing for more authenticity, and
Work effectively within families and larger systems such as workplaces.
Case studies are included throughout to highlight key principles, as well as practical exercises to enable the reader to develop their mindfulness skills. Mindful Relationships isn't just for the mindfully initiated, it's a practical guide that will enhance the quality of life of all it's readers.