If you're in a relationship, you might be considering trying a couples meditation. Though we can’t control what our partners think, say, or how they act toward us, we can control how we relate to them.
How anyone chooses to meditate is going to vary from person to person, but a couples meditation can, for some people, prove effective in improving romantic relationships by helping to create conditions in the mind that give us the optimal chance to relate to each other in happy and healthy ways. Obviously, a lot depends on the dynamic between two people. Some couples who meditate discover a synchronicity that flows brilliantly; for others, it can prove problematic or distracting. But the beauty of meditation is that you don’t have to be in the same room to feel a sense of connectedness or togetherness — meditating at the same time but in a different room is one way around any challenges you may experience. However you choose to do it, the purpose of a couples meditation is to focus more on the other person… and that’s how we maintain and nurture the connection, as well as a kind mind toward one another.
Below are five benefits that meditating together, or at the same time, can have on your relationship, plus a basic relationship meditation you can try.
A free 10-minute meditation from the Headspace Relationships course
5 ways couples meditation can bring you closer together
We know that meditation has many mental and physical benefits, so it’s not surprising that it can have social benefits, too. After all, when people focus less on self-critical chatter and more on being present, they have more space and capacity to achieve greater harmony within themselves, and ultimately, with the people closest to them. In fact, there’s a lot of research showing that meditation can improve relationship well-being in the following ways.
1. It decreases stress. Stress can drive a wedge into even the strongest of relationships. That’s simply because when people are stressed, they often become withdrawn, distracted, and less affectionate toward each other. If not addressed, too much stress can be toxic and even detrimental to a relationship.
Meditation has been scientifically proven to help reduced stress.
According to one study (which did not involve Headspace), meditation helped to alleviate stress after just eight weeks of regular practice. And, a 2018 study showed that using the Headspace app for 30 days reduced stress by a third.
That’s certainly compelling evidence for why meditation for relationships can be so effective: When partners are less preoccupied with stress, they can be more open to supporting and caring for each other and nurturing the relationship.
2. It makes you kinder. Of course, being kind to others can only happen if we are first kind to ourselves — and meditation can help with that. When we are more compassionate with ourselves, we are more forgiving of others and have the capacity to give them the space and understanding to let them be who they truly are.
Additionally, meditation has been proven to increase those traits that can positively affect relationships and decrease those that can have a negative effect. For example, researchers from Northeastern University found that just three weeks of Headspace increased compassion by 23% and reduced aggression by 57%. Additionally, an internal study found that 10 days of Headspace reduced irritability by 27%.
Being kind and loving toward each other — and being able to effectively cope with negative emotions — is foundational to a healthy, lasting relationship.
3. It improves your ability to resolve conflicts in healthy ways. All relationships inevitably have some elements of conflict and disagreements, but how couples actually resolve those conflicts can mean the difference between a healthy and a dysfunctional relationship. Research shows that people who practice mindfulness are typically less reactive and use more compromise during conflict, which in turn results in increasing their overall satisfaction with the relationship.
4. It nurtures intimacy. If we meditate with the conscious intention to benefit our partner and/or children, we are placing a deliberate focus on their well-being. We are nurturing their sense of connectedness between each member of the couple, cultivating compassion and awareness that provides the ability to stand in the other person's shoes, which in turn makes us more understanding and better listeners.
5. It improves sex. Sex and meditation may at first seem like unlikely partners, but there’s actually a lot of research showing that mindfulness-based therapy significantly improves sexual desire, sexual arousal, lubrication, sexual satisfaction, and overall sexual function. After all, the mental aspect of sex is pretty critical in developing and maintaining intmacy — and keeping alive the spark and passion.
Guided meditation for couples
There are many techniques you and your partner can use to meditate together.
Headspace recommends visualization meditation (as long as both partners are already comfortable with the basics of a meditation practice).
__Here’s a typical example of a basic couples meditation: __
Get into a comfortable sitting position, and start to become aware of the space around you, eyes open. Take some nice deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth.
Now, gently close your eyes and allow the breath to return to its natural rhythm as you take a bit of time to settle into the space around you, becoming more aware of the physical senses and sounds in that space.
Bring your mind back to the body as you start to gently scan down from head to toe. Start to get a sense of how the body feels, and if there’s any particularly strong emotions coming up. As you become more aware of the sensations and feelings, remind yourself of your intention in doing this exercise: by simply doing this exercise and clearing your mind, you can potentially improve the lives of those around you.
Gently bring your attention back to the body and the breath. Rest the mind on wherever you feel the rising and falling sensation most strongly.
Now, imagine a pinprick of light shining through the middle of your chest. Remember a time where you’ve done something or said something in the past that your partner really appreciated. Replay that in your mind and remember how your partner looked, what they said in acknowledgment of your simple act of kindness.
As you are reminded of that feeling, imagine that pinprick of light beginning to expand, moving outward in every direction, expanding to the extremities of the body and filling it with brightness, light, warmth, and spaciousness. When it feels as though it’s reached every single part of the body, let go of that image for a moment and let the mind rest in that space and do whatever it wants to do.
Now just gently bring the attention back into the body, back into the feeling of weight in the body, contact, sounds, slowly coming back into the space around you. Gently open your eyes and pause before moving to appreciate that feeling, and make clear your intention of being aware of that feeling throughout your day.
It may seem a bit strange that couples meditation should involve a visualization of ourselves. But it makes sense when you think about it: by cultivating a sense of kindness and love in our own minds, we’re more likely to be able to share that with our partner.
How Headspace can help improve your relationships
Just three weeks of Headspace has been proven to increase compassion by 21%. If you’re looking to strengthen your relationship there is a 30-day Relationships course in the Headspace app (available to subscribers). Or, check out Headspace’s entire relationships collection, a selection of recommended meditations to guide you on a journey to strengthen your relationships with yourself and those around you. Sign up for free today, and start experiencing the powerful benefits of meditation.
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