Dear Integral Meditators,
This mid-week message is an article on how to apply mindfulness in a practical way to your relationships through self enquiry.
Enjoy the article and wishing you happiness in all your relationships!
In the spirit of curious awareness,
How can we start applying mindfulness to our relationships? One major way in which we can do this is to consciously work on replacing our judgments and expectations with curiosity, interest and awareness.
It is all too easy when we wish to improve something in our life to begin by imposing our idealized standard upon what is there, rather than first becoming aware of and making peace with what is actually present. Nowhere is this more true than in our relationships.
In this article I had mainly romantic and marriage relationships in mind, but actually I think they can be applied to any relationship; work-colleague, sibling, child-parent and so on.
With this in mind here are three mindfulness practices to start working on your relationships with:
1) Be curious about the other person.
It’s so easy when you live close to someone day in day out to let your past history dominate the way you see and experience them in the moment. At such times what we see is not what is actually there, but what we remember. So, get your ‘beginners mind’ set and spend a little time each day observing this person as if you have never met them before, as if meeting them for the first time. Be curious about this new person, allow yourself to respond anew to the things you like and love about them, and try and understand what the motives might be for the challenging behavior that they might be throwing out.
2) Observe who you are in the relationship.
Before you start becoming ‘better’ in your relationship, with your beginners mind observe who you currently are. Try and do it without judgment. We all know the old paradox “before you can become who you want to be you must first accept who you are”. In this practice the focus is on seeing, accepting and feeling all of who you are in the relationship currently and being honest, authentic and aware of that. Once you truly know and can accept all of who you are in the present, you may then find that your capacity to change for the better starts to emerge spontaneously and without too much effort.
3) Grieve the loss, accept the discovery
In a real romantic relationship there is always a stage where we realize that this person is not the idealized image of man or womanhood that we have been carrying around in our mind since childhood. It’s easy to unconsciously resent a person for not being the person that we wanted them to be. It can be good to spend some time acknowledging, accepting, experiencing and releasing any resentment we may feel around this.
On the flip side of this, our partner may also have many good qualities that we never dreamed of in our idealized partner. ‘What are the gifts s/he has that might surprise and delight me?’ – Ask this question as an invitation to discover things you may have forgotten, or things that may have been waiting there unknown for your mindful curiosity to discover and appreciate.
All of the three methods above are techniques for inviting curiosity and awareness into your relationships, to awaken a questioning interest. If we can replace our expectations and judgments with this curiosity, we may find our relationships start to change for the better relatively naturally and in their own right timing.
© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com
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