Treat Relationships as a Mindful Practice

Relationships can be a challenging yet fulfilling mindfulness practice. Mindful relationships are an oasis of sanity in a world of high-speed communication but less real connection. Making a relationship more mindful involves a two-pronged approach.

First, you need to practice some mindfulness meditation daily to help retrain your brain to be less reactive and more focused. Secondly, follow these steps, moment by moment, to have a mindful conversation with your chosen person.

  • Stop. Try doing a mini mindful meditation before you see the person. This could be as simple as feeling a few mindful breaths.

  • Look. Be aware of the other person’s posture and facial expression. Is she looking sad, happy or some other emotion?

  • Listen. Be aware of her tone of voice as well as what she is actually saying. Quite often people’s tone of voice determines what they’re trying to communicate to you.

  • Inner awareness. Notice your own thoughts. Are you judging, criticizing or thinking about what you’re going to say next? Take a step back from your thoughts if you can, as you listen. Be mindful of your emotions as the other person speaks. Honor your own feelings without allowing them to overwhelm you. Feel your breathing or the sensation of your feet on the floor to help ground you.

  • Pause. Reflect for a few moments before you respond. This pause gives the wise part of your brain time to reflect and ponder on the best response.

  • Speak. When you speak, listen to the sound of your own voice. Notice if your voice is calm and resonant, or harsh and cutting.

Try these tips and then answer the following questions:

  • Who did you try the mindful conversation exercise with?

  • What did you notice about the person?

  • What did you notice about your own thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations?

  • What could you do next time to be even more mindful? (For example, do a mini meditation before the conversation, focus on your breathing a bit more, pay more attention to the other person’s posture as she speaks?)

One way of improving the quality of your communication is through mindfulness. The next time you talk to someone you know, be mindful and record what you noticed. You’ll respond to the person with a greater understanding. This ability to listen is the most powerful way of improving relationships — everyone likes to be heard and understood.

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