Mindful Meditation in Relationships
Real Relationship Advice
Today’s article is written by our special guest, Jeff Cannon
Relationships aren’t destroyed by cataclysmic arguments. They are eroded by the little things that happen over time. We’re all excited when a relationship starts. We watch what we do. We edit our actions and mind our words. We gloss over the details because we love the dream of what could be. We sacrifice the now for what we want in the future.
As our relationship grows, we get comfortable. We stop editing ourselves and return to our old habits. Sarcasm drips back into our words. Those little side comments and the not so subtle glances that we once held back are now tossed out without a thought. It’s not that we no longer love, it’s just that we are not quite as careful of our actions, and neither is your husband, wife, partner or lover.
Trust that your partner will support you and respect you is eroded by the little comments that seem to slide out without a thought. Respect is eroded through the forgetful actions that make you feel as if you don’t matter like you once did. Yes, relationships usually end in a cataclysmic fight, but that is not where they are torn apart.
This is exactly why just a little bit of meditation can be such an important tool in maintaining a healthy relationship. It will not make you magically love each other more, but it will make you both mindful of the little things that can undermine a relationship, so that you can start taking an active part in your life, rather than watching it unravel from the sidelines as if you had no say in it. Also, that means you can start living the life you love, with the person you want to love in it.
The little things that you start to pick up on, and that your partner picks up on just as quickly, don’t seem important enough to bring to your partner’s attention, but they still chip away at you. Even worse, they don’t go away. They layer up, little by little, until one day you wake up feeling not so special anymore. Then you do what we all do. You lash out. Usually at some seemingly unrelated issue that acts as a release valve for how you’ve been feeling.
We all do this. It’s part of human nature. It’s in our wiring. We hold onto the little things until they become a big issue. We wait until enough comments and asides build up before we register it as important enough to do something about it. By then we’re not discussing the little issues at hand, but everything that has ever been said in the past.
Without even thinking those little comments are able to elevate a remark about how a friend acted last night, into an all-out attack on everything that has ever been wrong in your relationship. Remark by remark you both escalate until the two of you are at each other’s throats without knowing why. You stop discussing facts and start responding to whatever out of our innate desire to be on top. You stop talking and start trying to get the last word in. It’s no longer about understanding. It’s about winning. And that is the opposite of what love is about.
Meditation is the key to breaking this cycle. It will give you both the grounding you need to stop acting out of self-preservation and instinct, so that you can both start acting out of the love and compassion, with consideration of what you have, rather than what your internal wiring tells you to do, which is to get the last word no matter what.
Now, when I say meditation, I don’t mean that you have to sit in contemplation for half a day before you speak to each other. Nor do you have to burn incense before having a conversation. Just by committing to meditate on your own for a few minutes a day is a start down the right path. That alone will reduce the general level of your stress that you both bring into your relationship. The less stress you have, the less defensive you become. So that when you start a conversation with someone you are passionate about, or on a topic that you know is touchy, you are no longer going in with your guard up, but from a point of love and understanding.
Let’s face it. We all go into situations that we know are touchy with a preconceived notion of how it will turn out. We tend to create movies in our own heads about how the discussion will go before a word is even spoken. More than likely you’ve both probably run through endless scripts about on how something will end up before it’s even started. By taking a brief meditation break before you start a discussion about what you know could be a tense subject, you will have taken the first step to turning that home movie off and letting your life unroll all by itself, in the here and now, without your old issues from the past or preconceived notions of the future running the show.
Meditation is not a cure-all. It will not turn your relationship into a bed of roses. But it will help you to be aware of what you have. It will help you turn off your automatic responses so that you can act out of love rather than habit. So don’t be afraid to stop the argument before it happens. Don’t wait to take a few deep breaths and casually point out the little things before they get out of hand, so that you can stay in a place of calm abiding again and again and again. After all, that is what a lasting relationship is all about.
Jeff Cannon is a certified Meditation Instructor, the author of The Simple Truth: Meditation for the Modern World and the founder of The Simple Truth Project. He has been called an innovator, a man caught between the humanities and the sciences, and a man who is bringing meditation to the modern world. Jeff brings a unique ability to refine traditional meditation practices to fit the realities of the 21st Century world we all live in. His work helps clients reduce stress, manage the daily distractions that can sidetrack their lives, and gain the insight they need to transform their lives into the ones they love by living their lives based on their own Simple Truths.