You come home from a long and stressful day at work, and your partner makes a comment that annoys you. You feel irritable and your immediate reaction is to explode with anger! If you’re familiar with this situation, or one similar, broadening your awareness using mindfulness meditation can do wonders! When we are guided by strong emotions, it can be incredibly difficult to regulate ourselves. This isn’t your fault…emotions are what makes us human! However, when our emotions are running high they have the ability to inhibit our cognitive capabilities and rational thought. When we are building intimacy and strong relationships, recognizing when we are overthrown by emotions is key in helping us think more clearly.
Mindfulness is an incredibly powerful skill you can master that can lead to heightened relationship satisfaction and partner connectedness. You can practice mindfulness by learning how to be aware of your thoughts, emotions, sensations, and surroundings in a nonjudgmental way. When we are mindful, we have an increased sensitivity to our experiences. You don’t necessarily have to meditate to engage in mindful thinking, although it is a helpful way for beginners to start! When we meditate, we activate what’s referred to as the parasympathetic nervous system. This part of our nervous system is active when we are relaxed. During meditation, our breathing rate, heart rate, and blood pressure are all slowed down, which in turn helps us regulate any general arousal associated with our nervous system’s “fight or flight” functions.
But maybe you’re wondering…what exactly is the link between meditation and how satisfied I am in my relationship? Well, when you meditate, it quiets the parts of our brain where stress, fear, and anxiety come from. While doing this we can actually strengthen parts of our brain where introspection and compassion come from. This means you are less likely to blow up with anger over small things, or fight over insecurities. When we are not fighting with our partners, our minds are less preoccupied with those negative emotions.
Some basic tips for beginners!
- Find a quiet and comfortable space with limited distractions.
- Take a moment to ground yourself in the present moment and start with some belly breathing for 10 minutes a day.
- Recognize any tension in your shoulders, neck, or anywhere else in your body and release!
- Do your best to solely focus on your breath as you inhale and exhale. If you notice thoughts entering your mind, work on bringing your awareness back to your breathing. Repeat this whenever you notice distraction.
Like any skill, it can take practice and that’s okay! As you become more comfortable you can even try some couples meditation exercises to do together. Lowering your stress response and softening your emotional reactivity in relationships will have transformative effects on your well-being. It enhances your sense of closeness and intimacy.
If you wish to work with a therapist on this skill and learn more about it’s benefits click here to book a free consultation.