Andy's Headspace - Meditation and relationships
So, have you noticed any difference in your relationships since you started to meditate? It might be in the relationships with your partner, parents, siblings, children, friends or work colleagues. Or it could be that you’ve experienced a positive change in all of these areas. I say positive change, because that’s typically what you’d expect from a regular mindfulness practice. It’s also what the latest research into meditation suggests.
Oh the pain that could have been spared with a little awareness...
When you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, you inevitably become more aware of your habits and tendencies. It might be a tendency to get angry when you feel threatened or scared in a relationship. Or it might be a constant low level state of anxiety which pervades your life and which feeds any uncertainty you may have about a particular person. It could even be noticing the desire to always want something more, or something different the whole time.
When you become aware of something, that ‘something’ begins to change in nature the very moment you first notice it. The change might be subtle to begin with, but if you look closely and maintain that sense of awareness, you will see change taking place. When we’re unaware of these patterns they remain the same, repeating over and over. You can see it happening outwardly in relationships all the time. But when these patterns are seen clearly, even by just one person in the the relationship, they begin to dissolve. It doesn’t take lots of analysis or effort - in fact it happens quite naturally, quite effortlessly, as long as we’re ready and willing to sit with it and allow it to unfold in its own time that is.
So it’s no surprise that meditation has been shown to improve relationships, and in a number of different areas too. For example, it’s been shown to better regulate moods - and we all know what they can do to a relationship. It’s been shown to increase feelings of empathy and kindness - and what friend or partner wouldn’t want more of that? It’s also been shown to increase levels of acceptance, which could potentially provide the most radical shift of all. It’s even been shown to elevate feelings of compassion and altruism.
The simple fact is, when we feel good about ourselves we tend to be happier and generally more content. Quite obviously, this is infinitely more pleasant for others to be around. But we also tend to be less reactive, allowing others to be who they are, instead of projecting our own ideas on to them the whole time. Often we carry our previous experiences in a relationship into the present moment, so that what we experience with a person is actually a reflection of the past rather than the present. It’s what the person used to be like and how we felt when we spoke to them before, rather than a true expression of how they are right now.