Mindful Relationships

May 29, 2017

Falling in love is easy, staying in love, that’s the real work.

I’m sure flying a plane is difficult, but with the proper training, the right amount of logged hours and suitable accreditation, you would make a fine pilot one day. Similarly, learning to cook is tricky, but with YouTube and an endless supply of recipes on Recipe.com and trying again if it all fails – you’re bound to make something quite edible. But what tuition do we get when it comes to love? it’s not on the high school curriculum and there are no tutors that I’m aware of that specialise in teaching humans how to be in a relationship for the vast majority of us – being in a relationship is a challenge.


For many of us our ideas of love and relationships are formed from a young age, what we observe in our environment; namely, our parents or guardians, as we mature we begin to read novels and catch a glimpse of The Notebook. We see people around us talk about their feelings, emotions, hope and dreams and we start to dream that maybe some day we too might experience something similar. Our ideas mix with our delusions and get stirred by our beliefs to concoct a recipe of an ideal relationship with an ideal partner. An idea many of us again, rarely shake.

It’s no wonder that so many relationships fail after the ‘honeymoon’ period ends. We tell ourselves that we’re fallen out of love. We go from texting daily to avoiding their calls to pick up milk on the way home. What once turned us on about our partners now annoys us beyond belief.

But the ‘honeymoon’ period of any relationship is purely a heightened state of Mindfulness. Mindfulness being our capacity to be in the present moment with a sense of curiosity and compassion. And we all remember those honeymoon periods, you start off by wanting to spend as much time with you partner as possible, you look for ways in which you can learn more about them; ‘what’s your favourite colour?’ ‘what movie made you cry?’ ‘what are you afraid of?’ You wait patiently for their answers and try to offer them your full curiosity. The partner is enamoured by this attention, ‘he/she is always so interested in me’ they might remark. Then something happens, perhaps they forgot a date night or they misplaced their keys, you compassionately offer them your support and laugh it off, ‘Oh he’s so forgetful, lol’ You’re genuinely interested in your partner, you’re present to them and you’re compassionate and understanding of them.

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. It’s not something woo-woo that you have to spend hours researching or travel to a far away land to find. It’s available to you, and your partner right now.


So how can living a more mindful life help you cultivate a greater relationship?


1. Your first relationship is to yourself. “Your relationship to yourself is and always will be directly reflected in all your relationships with others.

First, ask yourself, am I in this relationship because I’m scared to be alone? In many spiritual texts, the first teachings are about the nature of our most relationship – our self. We are asked to listen, be patient and understand our own thoughts, habits and tendencies so we can find compassion for the parts of ourselves we might not like so much. Loneliness, anger, fear, jealousy – they tend to exist in all of us, some have a handle on this, some of us don’t. Having a truly meaningful relationship depends on our capacity to be alone and ok, with ourselves. A mindful person recognises when they are ‘clinging’ to their partner of out a sense of lack We can then detach from this unhealthy thought and develop more clarity from awareness around our tendencies.


2. Be present. “If you love someone, the greatest gift you can give them is your presence” Thich Nhat Hanh

This is a no-brainer. How can we relate to ourselves and our partners if we are not even there? And you know what I’m talking abut. Scrolling through Snapchat when your partner asks how your day was or watching the football when you’re partner asks for the third time to take the rubbish out isn’t being present. It’s being absent. Relationships can’t flourish with absence, they only flourish when we are present with ourselves and the people in this moment. Resolve to put your phones down when you go out to dinner and spend a designated time, morning or not or both(!) being fully present to your partner.


3. Listen, for no other reason than to listen. “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” ― Stephen R. Covey,

We are hard-wired to look for problems. To fix things. But sometimes we ourselves don’t need someone to fix our problems, just someone to hear them. Listening to our partners is a powerful exercise in presence and love. When we listen we open up our capacity to understand. And truly meaningful relationships prosper when we understand each other, our hopes, our fears, our stresses and our regrets. When we listen deeply we can see not only what they are communicating through their words, but also their eyes, their body. You open us a deeper sense of connection by lending your ear.

Compassion or Karuna in the pali language is the capacity each of us have to not only empathise with another person but to genuinely help them ‘suffer’ less. It’s born out of listening and understanding. It’s our capacity to help our partner hurt less after a long day at work or after something has gone wrong. It’s also our capacity to understand they are a human, not just a body that you co-exist with. A human that also experiences fear, hope, love and regret, just like you do. Seeing your partner as a human can dramatically change the nature of a relationship, because we see in them what we see in us. An imperfectly perfect human trying to do the best they can with what they have. Someone that acts out of fear someone that acts out our doubt or love. Through this lens of compassion, we better understand our selves, and each other.


4. This too shall pass. “Life’s impermanence, I realized, is what makes every single day so precious. It’s what shapes our time here. It’s what makes it so important than not a single moment be wasted.”

Far from looking at impermanence (the nature of all things to eventually end) as a gloomy topic, it can actually be the most liberating. This for me has been the most transformative practice in my relationships. Knowing our time with our partners is in one way or another limited means we don’t have to always get caught up in the little stresses of our life. An argument over the toilet seat left up or if the fact that she’s always buying new cushions. Accepting that all things will eventually come to end gives us a freedom to to experience our days like our partners with a sense of genuine love.

The reality is all our time is limited. We can choose to spend it caught up in our thoughts, our future hopes or our memories. Living mindfully allows us to be fully present to what surrounds us, the people the experiences all while we manage the ups and downs of life with a sense of calm, compassion and clarity.

Yours in vibes, Manoj.


Article by Manoj Dias. 

Manoj is a Meditation teacher, Writer and Co-founder of A—SPACE, Australia’s first multi-discplinary drop-in meditation studio. 

I: @_aspace | @najigram

F: @manojdiasyoga | @aspaceproject


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