Mindfulness towards your significant other

Being mindful of each otherDivorce and breakups seem to be all around us. I was just thinking that in my circle of acquaintances alone, I have learned about 5 breakups/divorces just in the last few months. Western society does pose a lot of challenges to a relationship.

So how do you keep your relationship with your significant other fresh and alive?  I admit, sometimes there is good reason for a breakup to happen, but in this post I’m focusing on relationships that are heading for, or already are in, a state of boredom or lifelessness that can be avoided with care and attention.

It absolutely does take ‘work’ to keep a relationship alive and fulfilling. Especially when children are in the picture, they become the focus of your attention and your relationship with your significant other drops down on the priority list.  I’m sure you have heard of lots of good advice, like ensuring there is open and frequent communication between the two of you, building and keeping trust, and doing things that allow you to grow together as a couple. I think all of these are important.

But I would like to offer some mindful ideas that perhaps may not be as mainstream or cliche…

Don’t you find that after you have been together for awhile, you tend to take each other for granted, and your focus of interest starts to divert to other people or activities?  Here is where I think mindfulness can really help freshen your relationship. Here is a way to cultivate more joy into your relationship.

When you are with your partner, really be present for that person. Give him/her your full attention, and try to approach every interaction you have with him/her with fresh eyes and non-judgment.  A simple concept, but it’s not easy to do!  Just think about this – we all have preconceptions about our partners which brings prejudgments into our interactions with them. Such judgments and expectations can be a self-fulfilling prophecy because you already are seeing the interaction through a judgmental lens. Sometimes we barely give a situation a chance because we’ve already played out the scenario in our heads before it’s even happened and ‘we know exactly how the other person is going to behave.’

Consider talking about this approach with your partner to see if you can both do this for each other. Start small – you don’t have to put pressure on yourself to do this every time, but try it and see if the outcome is different and better.  Even a small gesture conducted in a meaningful, caring & present way will be noticed. Some examples:

  • Listen to what he/she is saying with full attention, eye contact, watching their body language, and trying to detect their emotions. Be selfless in this interaction. No judgment, just observation and acknowledgement.
  • When you have friends over and you’re offering them a drink, ask your partner what he/she would like too, treating him/her in a way that shows you are paying attention to them too.
  • When you together with others in a group situation, listen to your partner just as you would listen to others – don’t interrupt, correct, or argue – give your partner your attention and respect his/her opinion.

In other words, be present and non-judgmental for your partner.

If you feel like you are in a rut with your partner, see what you can do to change what you are bringing to your interactions. Often when you change your behavior, it affects the behavior of your partner.

~Wendy

Wanting your significant other to meditate too?

teaching meditation class

At one of my meditation classes

“How do I get my partner interested in meditation?”  This is a question I hear quite frequently so I want to share this meaningful conversation with you.

Being a meditation teacher as a ‘side job’ amidst a busy western lifestyle, one of my favourite joys is to talk to meditators about how meditation and mindfulness has enriched their lives beyond their expectations. So much so, that they are now trying to get their partners, friends and family to take up this life practice too.

Probably more often than not, they have been met with skepticism, indifference, or simply “That’s all fine for you to meditate, but I’m not interested.”  The meditator gets frustrated then comes to speak to me for advice.

As no two situations are ever the same, here are some questions I engage the meditator in:

  • What does your partner understand about meditation? (This opens up the opportunity to debunk the myths such as it’s about blanking out the mind and having no thoughts, that meditation is only an eastern religion-thing, that it’s some hippy-woo-woo-thing to do, etc…)
  • Is your partner analytically-minded?  Does he/she need to see research before he/she will pay attention to something? (There are numerous articles and studies being published these days about the proven benefits of meditation and mindfulness.  Look here at a super short, great example from Scientific American magazine, a highly credible resource.  Lots of information is available about neuroplasticity of the brain and how meditation can change and calm the brain. This stuff can really resonate with the analytically-minded and can be the door that attracts them to meditation.)
  • Did you try the ‘please try it for me?’ approach? (Convey how much it has helped you, and how you want to offer the same eye-opening experience to them because you care about them.)

I hope these ideas may help stimulate some ways to get your loved ones joining you in a meditation practice.  Please know that everyone is on their own journey, however, so after all the attempts, if it doesn’t ‘work’ then let them know that perhaps meditation will be something they will want to do in the future.

Also, learning in a group environment and being guided when learning meditation is undoubtedly the best way to gain confidence in meditation. It can easily be intimidating and foreign to the beginner, so perhaps finding a safe, comfortable guided meditation group is a good way to introduce newbies to meditation.

I hope this is helpful, and I welcome any further ideas you may have to share!

~Wendy

Related posts about the spiritual journey:

Part 4 – When your partner rejects your spiritual journey

The sacred Garden of the Gods - "Sleeping Giant"

The sacred Garden of the Gods – “Sleeping Giant”

This is Part 4 in the series ‘Is your partner with you on your spiritual journey?’.   Do you have a partner who rejects your spiritual interests?

I have talked to many people who steer away from talking to their partner about spiritual topics, because their partner firmly rejects or mocks it all. Typically, here is how the rejection looks:

  • the partner talks about spirituality as ‘woo-woo’, ‘Oprah-ish’, believing in angels, ghosts, auras, witchcraft, etc.
  • makes jokes about it
  • makes the person feel silly, and that it’s all a waste of time

The partner’s rejection becomes obvious pretty quickly, which creates a negative, unsupportive environment.

I’m talking about outward rejection, not just indifference.

Whether the person seeking spiritual growth admits it or not, I have found that they feel somewhat rejected and diminished, as they take their partner’s verbal lashings to heart. It typically causes an unfortunate, underlying distance between them.

I have seen cases where the spiritual seeker essentially abandons their interests because they don’t want to pursue it without their partner,  simply don’t want to be ridiculed, or don’t want their differences to ruin their relationship.  Sometimes it causes the seeker to go ‘underground’ – reading books, surfing the internet or engaging in conversations unbeknownst to the partner. I’ve seen the odd case where it contributes to the breakup of the relationship.

However, I would say most often what I see is the seeker longs to connect with like-minded people, trying to find a community of people to growth with, and hopes that maybe one day, their partner will open his/her mind and curiosity as well.

To anyone who might be the ‘partner’ in this case, meaning the one who is not interested in spirituality but their partner is, I ask you to be open to allowing your partner to explore in a supportive way.

Have you experienced rejection behaviour or witnessed it in other couples?  If so, I invite you to share things that you have done to get your partner interested in spirituality, or how you feel if your partner rejects your beliefs. You can leave a comment without using your real name if you so desire.

Please click the ‘Comment’ link below to join in on this conversation.

Part 3 – When your partner is indifferent to your spiritual journey

The sacred Garden of the Gods

The sacred Garden of the Gods

This is Part 3 in the series ‘Is your partner with you on your spiritual journey?’.  In this post,  let’s specifically discuss ‘when you partner is indifferent to your spiritual journey’.

So if you have or had a partner who looks at your spiritual journey with indifference or apathy, what’s really going on about that?

  • Maybe the situation is that the two of you really haven’t discussed this very much, so you are assuming he/she doesn’t really care.
  • Maybe he/she really doesn’t care!
  • Maybe he/she ‘lets’ you do whatever you please in your journey; perhaps you could even say he/she ‘supports’ you but just doesn’t want to be an active part of it.
  • Does it make you feel that you are less connected with him/her?

I have spoken to a number of people who are in a relationship such as this, and some people really do not care if their partner is along for the journey or not.  However, in these cases, I tend to see that the journey tends to be a bit lonelier, and the motivation to pursue it is somewhat diminished.

Then again, I’ve spoken to some people who already live their lives quite independently from their partner so seeking spiritual growth does not threaten the relationship whatsoever.

For someone whose spiritual journey is very important, I would suggest that having an open conversation with your partner can be very helpful.  Don’t assume that if your partner is indifferent now, that he/she will be indifferent sometime in the future. People change all the time.  I think if someone is not interested but is open-minded, you can slowly introduce ideas and experiences, and you never know what may catch their attention!

Here are some things in my past experience that caught my partner’s attention and helped him ‘open up’:

  • bringing him to a welcoming beginner’s meditation class
  • introducing him to Eckhart Tolle’s ‘A New Earth: Awakening to your life’s purpose‘.  This is SUCH a terrific book, and much better and easier to read than his previous book called ‘The Power of Now‘.  Please note that the person needs to be ready to read this, and if they are not, usually it is tossed aside. This is what initially happened, but then after about a year, I re-introduced it and he saw it with new eyes.
  • introducing him to spiritual people who are down-to-earth, easy and fun to be with, so he could see that spiritual people are not stereotypically ‘woo-woo’ or strange!

At this point, I invite you to share things that you have done to encourage your partner’s interest in spirituality, or how you feel if your partner is not interested. You can leave a comment without using your real name if you so desire.

Please click the ‘Comment’ link below to join in on this conversation.

Part 2 – When your partner joins you on your spiritual journey

At the sacred Garden of the Gods, Colorado SpringsAs I had hoped, this topic is an intriguing one, and I love seeing your comments and talking to some of you. 

This is Part 2 in the series ‘Is your partner with you on your spiritual journey?’.  In this post,  let’s specifically discuss ‘when you partner joins you on your spiritual journey’.

This post is specifically about the scenario of when your partner is also on a spiritual path, and you two intentionally are taking actions to learn and grow spiritually.

But what does that look like for you?  For me, before I married my partner I had broached the subject of my beliefs and curiosities because I needed to know where he stood on this. I had discovered that he hadn’t really thought too much about it, seemed somewhat skeptical and rather uninterested, but absolutely respected my beliefs and I could tell his stance would not hold me back, and likely would actually encourage me to explore even if he chose not to.

After we got married, our eyes were opened more with each meaningful event we experienced in our lives, such as the death of a parent, watching world disasters, meeting people who impacted our lives, and my stint with cancer. I received many gifts with my cancer experience, and perhaps one of the most significant was the the joint spiritual acceleration my partner and I experienced together.

As life continues, we encounter various offerings to learn and grow spiritually.  Sometimes we both gravitate to such offerings, and sometimes only one of us does. For example, my partner really resonates with Ken Wilber’s teachings, but for me, Ken’s much too technical and theoretical, so most of it just whizzes over my head. I tend to spend a lot more time than my partner learning & talking to others,  but we both enjoy and receive great benefits from meditation & mindfulness and have gone to many meditation groups together.

I can say with certainty that my spiritual journey is accelerating and more fascinating because I am so fortunate to have a partner who actively encourages me and experiences the journey with full interest right beside me.  Enduring the cancer experience last year together really projected us down the path at full speed; we were fortunate to be introduced to InspireHealth right at the onset of my cancer diagnosis, and they helped us learn how to manage through cancer together.

I know that many couples do not talk about the subject of spirituality. If you haven’t yet, I suggest it is worthwhile doing so, because if you find ways to explore it together, it can enrich your relationship in profound ways.  In today’s society with so many breakups and people living in dead relationships, isn’t it worth exploring what this could do for the two of you?

Keep in mind that cultivating a spiritual journey together is like taking a walk through a maze – you will have dead ends, clear paths, and times where you may walk alone and times you walk together.  In my relationship, I would say it took a few years before the light turned on for both of us together and we intentionally decided to grow together.

At this point, I invite you to share your experiences and thoughts if your partner IS on the spiritual journey with you (current or past partners). You can leave a comment without using your real name if you so desire.

Please click the ‘Comment’ link below to join in on this conversation. I would love to hear from you!