Dear Integral Meditators,
Do you have a strategy for integrating mindfulness into your relationships? This mid-week article is an invitation to investigate four simple techniques that I have found effective.
Yours in the spirit of mindful relationships,
Four Methods for Cultivating Mindful Relationships
The following are four techniques for cultivating more mindfulness or, put another way integrating a greater degree of consciousness into your everyday relationships. Each one of them is relatively simple to understand and to put into practice on a basic level, and each one can be cultivated to deeper and deeper levels over time. Just practicing one can be very beneficial, but I have found they really come into their own when practiced together as an integrated unit.
Being the fly on the wall – Imagine you are a fly on the wall observing yourself in real time interaction with your partner, boss or child (etc…) Observe the interaction objectively for a while. What do you see happening? Are your words, behaviour and body language helping or hindering the relationship? How is the other person experiencing you? Get familiar with this new perspective on what is going on and integrate it into the way you approach interacting with others.
Taking the perspective of the other – Imagine inhabit the body, mind, eyes and so on of your partner, child, parent, friend (etc…) What is their world view? What does it feel like to be treated by you in the way that they are? Imagine your words spoken to them and their emotional reaction. Get used to really taking on the perspective of the other regularly, each day.
Acknowledging difficulties – Take time to deliberately get in touch with the emotional wounds, resentments, pain and so forth that you are experiencing in a relationship. Deliberately look them out, bring them to mind, acknowledge them and release them as they arise on a daily basis, so that they can be released as they come up. Anger, resentment, shame, jealousy and so on are not pleasant, but if we are regularly repressing them then they won’t do anything but poison the relationship.
Appreciation – Focus daily upon the gifts, positives, and other valuable attributes of your relationships. For example different stages of bringing up a child each have their own challenging sides, but they also have their delightful sides. Don’t let the different stages of your relationships go by without enjoying them, they will be gone as you move to the next stage…
You can practice these as formal sitting mindfulness techniques, or just deliberately take them into consideration as you are going about your daily relationships. After having focused on one or other of the practices for a while it can be useful to ask yourself the questions “What insight have I gained from this reflection?” and “What might I consider changing in the way I approach this relationship as a result of this insight?”
© 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