Relationships are the cornerstone of a good life both emotionally and physically. Those who have satisfying relationships with family, friends and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer. Satisfying relationships can not only prevent depression and cognitive decline but also lower our risk of cardiovascular disease.
The important fact to remember is that these relationships are indeed satisfying and healthy. Because, as you would guess, negative relationships correlate with negative health effects.
So the question becomes, how do you cultivate relationships that are satisfying and healthy?
Luckily there is a simple answer to that question; by becoming mindful in your present interactions and cultivating mindfulness in relationships. Having a mindfulness practice or using mindfulness techniques can improve relational skills including improved emotional resiliency, empathy, and communication skills as well as enhanced intuitive abilities. Using mindfulness in relationships increases relationship satisfaction, makes each person in the relationship feel more optimistic and relaxed and makes them feel more accepting and closer to one another.
The UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center defines mindfulness as “…maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment.”
If mindfulness is a new subject to you a great way to know if you are indeed being mindful is to identify the moments you are NOT being mindful.
Common unmindful behaviors that signal that you’ve gotten off track include:
Relationship experts Gay and Katie Hendricks calls these moments of getting off track “drifting”. In their relationship courses they teach you how to “shift” yourself back into a more mindful state through breathing. In fact, breath awareness is one of the most popular tools for increasing mindfulness in relationships.
The next time you find yourself in a more un-mindful moment with someone (as we all do), simply take a breath, observe your body and ask yourself the following questions:
How can I accept this current situation without judgment or struggle?
How can I allow these feelings to exist without letting them drive my reactions?
Am I buying into any false thoughts about the other person or myself?
Continue to pay your attention to your breath until you feel your body and mind move into a more relaxed state. By becoming aware of your own negative internal dialogue with yourself and “shifting” those thoughts you cultivate mindfulness in relationships and in all your interactions. Think what would be possible in your community and our world if we were all able to interact from this place within ourselves.
What do you think? Do you have a mindfulness practice? If not, are you interested in starting one?
For support on your journey bringing mindfulness into your life and cultivating mindfulness in relationships get your Spire device here.