Relationships are the bedrock of life. Nourishing. Fulfilling. Enjoyable. Engaging. Supportive. Of course, they can be challenging, too. All manner of complications, conflict, and resentment can be caused by miscommunication, misunderstandings, disagreements, and dysfunctional patterns, not to mention the pressures of everyday life.
It’s not hard to see why. Two people coming together is a meeting of minds — different people, different ways of thinking, and different sets of values, beliefs, and ideas rooted in very different childhoods and life experiences.
While holidays like Valentine’s Day might well be a celebration of love and romance, they also present a great opportunity to go inward and do some self-work with all relationships in mind: your spouse, partner, relatives, friends, and colleagues, even yourself. It’s in our minds where the seeds of any healthy relationship are found, and it’s through meditation that we can help to cultivate more harmonious relations with those who matter most.
Think for a second how it feels to be around someone stressed, angry, grumpy, or impatient.
Now think about being around someone genuinely happy, content, and at ease with themselves. The difference is stark. So ask yourself: how do you want your friends to feel when they’re around you? Considering the happiness of others might seem counterintuitive at first, but this truth of mindfulness invites a switch of perspective because the more we provide the conditions for happiness in others, the more likely we’ll breed happiness in our relationships.
This does not mean relegating what’s important to us, neglecting our own happiness, or being self-sacrificial in any way. Far from it. This is more about recognizing the balance in a two-way street. In training the mind, we learn about who we are and what we need — which helps us to set compassionate boundaries — and we also learn that the happiness of those closest to us is not separate from our own. The more we can see this, the more we are able to set up the conditions in which healthy relationships can thrive.
Exploring relationships, with Headspace
In the featured section of the Headspace library this month, you’ll find the Exploring Relationships collection, a selection of recommended meditations and Headspace animations to guide you on a journey to strengthen your relationships with those around you. There are also suggested exercises that you can use to meditate alone — or together!
For falling in love with yourself
- Kindness course: Kindness to ourselves is just as important as kindness to others. Use this 10-day course of meditations to foster compassion to help you judge yourself and others less harshly.
- Reframing Loneliness course: When we better understand what it means to be lonely — as opposed to being alone — we better understand the emotion, and we can then learn to reframe loneliness to the extent that we can feel more connected to the world around us.
- Reset single: Sometimes we just need to step back, breathe, and reset — especially if someone has said something upsetting to us. Here’s a single meditation that allows you to press the pause button and take 10.
- Mindful Tech single: Our attachment to our devices can sometimes get in the way of one-on-one time with friends. Tech doesn’t have to shape us; we can shape tech. Here’s an exercise to remind us how to stay plugged in to the human connections that matter most to us.
For falling in love with someone else
- Relationships course: No matter how long the length of your relationship, there’s always room to renew and keep falling in love. But Cupid’s arrow doesn’t always fire straight; our self-critical inner chatter and the storylines created in the mind oftentimes cause friction within ourselves and our relationships. Unravel those mental entanglements, and focus on greater harmony with this 30-day course.
- Appreciation course: No one likes to feel taken for granted. Discover a renewed sense of appreciation for yourself and the qualities of your relationship. Ten days of appreciation will leave you and your partner basking in gratitude.
- Managing conflict single: Most of us usually go into conflicts looking to blame another person or win an argument, neither of which helps any relationship. Learn to put down your fixed positions and create the environment for a calm, productive conversation.
- Waking Up single: How we start our day often shapes our attitude toward our loved ones first thing in the morning. This visualization technique helps you start your day on the right foot, feeling clearer and brighter while moving into your day with a sense of lightness and ease.
For strengthening any relationship
- Relationships course: We’re offering the 30-day course here, too, because a reduction in self-critical inner chatter and the storylines that chatter creates can help all relationships with family, friends, and colleagues.
- Generosity course: Training the mind to be less judgmental and critical cultivates an attitude of general openness that, when we take this quality into relationships, benefits us and those with whom we are interacting.
- Impatient Yogi animation: The ancient story of a yogi in a cave, meditating on patience and how a gentle, flexible approach in meditation can be applied to everyday life. If you would like to be more patient and more at ease with yourself, this one’s for you.
- Loving Kindness animation: Kindness is an innate quality of mind for us all, and it exists in the absence of unkindness. This animation offers some valuable insight into how we can bring more loving kindness to our relationships.
For meditating together
- Listening to Others single: Meditation is an exercise in listening. Learning to hear our own thoughts teaches us to actively listen to the thoughts and ideas of others without interruption.
- Patience course: If we learn to recognize our impatience, we can process it and let it go. Be patient with this 10-day course and change the way you are with yourself and everyone around you.
- Restore single: Step away from the thinking mind and look after yourself with this restorative, refreshing mini-meditation.
- Difficult Conversations single: The looming prospect of a difficult conversation can lead to stress and anxiety. This exercise helps to develop a calmer, more patient mindset, allowing you to both listen and express yourself clearly and confidently.