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Meditation for relationships

Relationships are the bedrock of life. Whether it’s a relationship with family, a romantic partner, or with friends and colleagues, the way we act, communicate, and respond in a relationship has a huge influence on our overall health and happiness.

At its essence, a relationship should be loving, nourishing, fulfilling, engaging, and supportive. But we all know that they can also be challenging for any number of complicated reasons, caused by circumstances, misunderstandings, disagreements, or historic dysfunctional patterns.

Two people coming together is always a meeting of minds — different people, different pasts, different ways of thinking — not to mention the possibility of a different set of values, beliefs, and ideas shaped by individual life experiences. So maintaining good, healthy relationships requires work, effort, and our attention — and that’s where meditation can help. How so? Because the seeds of any healthy relationship are sown in the mind, and it’s through meditation, through training the mind to be calmer, that we can help to cultivate harmonious relations with the people around us.


Try a meditation for two

Get some Headspace with someone you care about.

Watch Meditation for Two | 2 minutes

Relationship meditation

Meditation helps relationships in several ways, and encourages us to be the best version of ourselves.

When people are asked what they look for in a potential partner, answers that regularly come up are the qualities of kindness, compassion, decency, and loyalty; someone who is confident within themselves; someone who is in control of their emotions.

When we remember someone’s personality or energy, we remember how they make us feel. Think, for example, how it feels to be around someone who is permanently stressed, on edge, grumpy, or impatient. Now bring to mind someone who is genuinely upbeat, gentle, patient, and at ease with themselves. The difference is stark.

Finally, ask yourself: how do you want your friends to feel when they are 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 ourselves.


Make the shift to the present moment — now

The quickest, surest way of experiencing more happiness in our lives is to focus more on the happiness of others.

Watch Why Focus on the Happiness of Others? | 1 minute

Through a regular and consistent meditation practice, we not only make ourselves better, but we are better equipped to deal with other people — both the good and the bad. As a result, we not only strengthen our positive relationships, but also have the tools to deal with toxic ones as well.

Showing compassion and empathy is arguably one of the most important parts of being in a healthy relationship, if not the most important. Regular meditation helps us to be more compassionate and more kind, as shown in the results of a 2013 study from Northwestern University. In that study, people who meditated for 10 minutes a day over three weeks using the Headspace app were more likely to help a stranger in need, compared to the participants who didn’t meditate. Those three weeks of using Headspace increased compassion by 21%.

“This is the first evidence that the practice of meditation — even for brief periods of time — increases people’s responsiveness and motivation to relieve the suffering of others,” said lead researcher David DeSteno.

And what about the impact meditation has on dealing with anxiety and stress? Over 40 million adults in the US have some type of anxiety disorder, and countless studies show that meditation can help. Lowering your stress and anxiety can help bring a sense of ease to our relationships — after all, it’s very hard to pay attention to other people or be there for them when we’re otherwise preoccupied with stress or anxiety. So it follows that alleviating our stress introduces more spaciousness into our relationships, allowing us to be more present and attentive.

Especially in times of crisis, when relationships can face unique strains, meditation can help us find a greater sense of ease by taking time to step away and allow things to decompress a little bit, like this short animation demonstrates.

Falling in love with yourself

A key piece in improving our relationships is to recognize the importance of first falling in love with ourselves. When we learn to direct our compassion inward, to be kinder to our mind, and to silence the inner critic, it’s amazing how those qualities ripple outward.

The Headspace app offers meditations that help build these solid foundations by offering courses on kindness and self-esteem, which help to pave the way for loving yourself before committing to loving another.

Once we’ve done the solo work, we can then turn our attention to our relationships. Daily meditation for couples — whether you choose to meditate alone or together — can be a game-changer, not only in helping us to navigate life’s challenges, but also in building trust and appreciation for one another on a deeper level.

Try these 4 meditations for enhancing your relationships:

1. The 30-day Relationship course (available only to Headspace subscribers) helps us to manage the inner-dialogue and storylines that the mind often creates out of nowhere, leading to unnecessary conflict.

2. The Appreciation course (available only to Headspace subscribers) helps to foster gratitude around the qualities that exist in your partner, friends, family, or colleagues.

3. Managing Conflict (available only to Headspace subscribers) is a single exercise to help temper emotions whenever there is tension or a dispute.

4. Difficult Conversations (available only to Headspace subscribers) is a single exercise to help couples develop a more patient mindset, allowing you to listen and express yourself more clearly during times when it can be hard to know what to say or how to restore calm.

Whatever brings you to meditation, or to at least explore meditation, is the starting point for improving relationships because ultimately, meditation helps us to feel clearer, calmer, and more content. It also helps us to understand mindful communication … especially if a partner or friend thinks they are always right! The ability to understand each other and truly listen to one another, regardless of what emotions arise and devoid of blame, is imperative for a healthy connection.

Everyone knows life can be tough and that successful relationships require work. With that in mind, it makes sense to create the conditions where our relationships can thrive — at home, at work, and in our social circles.