What is mindfulness and what does it mean to be “mindful”? How can it help our relationships?
The term “mindfulness” originates from philosophical and meditative traditions. Mindfulness has two important parts. The first part is defined as attentiveness and awareness of the present moment, both internally (what is happening inside of you) and externally (what is happening outside of you – i.e. with others). The second part involves not judging, comparing, or evaluating the present experience as you observe it.
So how can this help your love life? If you think back to the beginning of your relationship, there were probably many moments of blissful unison. You may remember spending hours together and losing all concept of time. It may have flown by or stood still, but either way you were so involved with each other that time didn’t matter. And you probably weren’t thinking about things like laundry, shopping, paying bills and work. It was strictly you, your partner and your love.
Mindfulness can help you recapture some of those feelings since you are exclusively concentrating on your partner and the moment. If any other thoughts like laundry and work come up, mindfulness teaches you to not to ignore them, but to recognize them, dismiss them and move on. Then you gently go back to being with your partner. No judgments, no penalties, no harm, no foul.
Taking the concept one level deeper, the practice of mindfulness can allow us to develop some distance between ourselves and our emotions so that we don’t cling to the thoughts and emotions as being something we identify with. It doesn’t become ‘my anger’ anymore; instead we see it as just ‘being angry’. So we no longer think ‘I am so angry!’ instead we can say to ourselves more calmly, ‘I am just experiencing some momentary anger and I know this will soon pass.’
Mindfulness also helps us to understand and accept that no one is perfect. No one. Start to learn how to accept your imperfections. If you are not fully aware of your mistakes, you may not only miss what is most significant in your life, but also fail to recognize your true potential in terms of your relationship with your partner and yourself. Instead of suppressing your mistakes, review them mindfully. A successful person accepts and learns from those moments when we are not our best. So, highlight your weak points and start working on them. If you can’t solve your problem, ask for some assistance from trustworthy people. You will not become small by asking. Share your problems with your partner and truly open yourself up to their support and advice.
While it may not be possible to be mindful all day long, the power of a mindful moment each day shared with someone you love can make a relationship strong and more loving. And a mindful moment with yourself can keep you peaceful and capable of developing those parts of yourself that you might have neglected or minimized. Either way, you’ll learn more about being kinder to yourself as well deepening your connection with your partner so that your relationship can grow.