Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and with it comes a barrage of commercials featuring idyllic couples lavishing each other with gifts—from chocolate to diamonds to luxury vehicles. While I am not one to ever turn down a box of truffles or something sparkly, let us not forget the reason for the season: love.
But what if your relationship isn’t picture-perfect? This just means you and your partner are normal; imperfection does not mean you love one another any less. Life is full of stresses that can impact our happy home: work, family, and financial and social demands are just a few common factors.
If you want to improve your relationship, meditation for couples may help you decrease stress and improve the quality of your connection. What if your partner doesn’t want to meditate? In my experience, that doesn’t matter as much as your willingness to engage in the process. Remember that change comes from within. We cannot change another person, but we can respond skillfully rather than react mindlessly when a relationship challenge appears.
Mindfulness Meditation For Couples
Mindfulness is the practice of being present. I often describe it as being aware you are aware. Using your senses—sight, smell, taste, touch, sound, and awareness of thought—can increase awareness of your own internal forecast as well as your partner’s disposition.
This internal and external awareness will help you avoid emotional landmines in the first place rather than living on autopilot. Have you ever lashed out at your partner, only to be filled instantly with regret?
We get into trouble most often when we are tuned out, distracted, or not paying attention to what is really happening in the moment and instead reliving a past hurt or fantasizing about a future crisis.
Loving-Kindness Meditation For Couples
Loving-kindness meditation cultivates the ability to see one another as a human beings deserving of compassion and love, which can decrease relationship negativity and improve psychological wellbeing.
The formal practice of loving-kindness meditation invites the practitioner to send a few verses of well wishes to a series of people, beginning with oneself, and followed by a benefactor (which may include a teacher or spiritual leader), a friend, a neutral person, a difficult person, and closing with all sentient beings.
Loving-kindness may be practiced informally too, as we meet another person’s eyes or engage in conversation. The other person doesn’t even need to be physically close for us to practice.
Here is a sample verse. You may wish to try it for yourself using the guided meditation at the end of this post.
May you be happy, as I wish to be happy.
May you know peace, as I wish to know peace.
May you be free from suffering, as I wish to be free from suffering.
According to a pilot study at the University of Utah, loving-kindness meditation practice “decreased overall levels of perceived hostility, insensitivity, interference, and ridicule from others” (Uchino, 2016). This practice will not only improve your intimate relationship, but your relationship to yourself, too.
A wise person once said to me that a successful relationship does not mean you never disagree or argue—it is about how quickly you can reconnect once the storm has passed. In fact, many couples do feel a deeper sense of connection once they have worked through a problem together.
This insight does not mean that disagreements are necessary to build a stronger relationship. However, practicing meditation for couples–including mindfulness meditation and loving-kindness—may help clear the cloudy sky and bring more peace to your intimate relationship.
Try it for yourself using the guided meditation below. How do you think meditation for couples can improve your relationship?
Heather Stang, M.A. is the author ofMindfulness & Grief and the Frederick Meditation Center founder. She holds a Masters degree in Thanatology (Death, Dying, and Bereavement) from Hood College in Maryland, and is a certified Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy practitioner. She has led mindfulness-based grief workshops for organizations such as the National Fallen Firefighters Association and Hospice of Frederick County, and is a member of the Association of Death Education and Counseling. Heather’s mission is to help people who are grieving to stay healthy and benefit from the transformative experience of grief, using mindfulness-based practices, relaxation, and expressive arts. She has an established practice offering Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy sessions, day-long retreats, and 8 Week Yoga for Grief groups. She is based in Maryland. You can find her on Google +
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