Mindful communication

My recent article in The Friends of Bangor University Centre for Mindfulness & Research Practice

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January 28  |  Love & Relationships, Mindful communication, Mindfulness, Mindfulness and relationships, Mindfulness meditation  |   Cynthia

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mindfulness and relationships

We all love a relationship happy ending.  As time goes by, this involves mindful effort and persistence. I set out below, the most important aspects, in my opinion of mindful loving.

 Good, open, mindful communication

Mindfulness is an especially invaluable tool in the area of couple communication, where it’s so easy to hear what we think is being said, through our personal filters, and then to overreact to it – strongly. More often than not, this is down to not only poor communication – but also our deeply personal, historical “stuff”.

Achieving and maintaining good communication is ongoing work. This is where practising communication mindfulness can be so helpful. When you put it into operation, you become increasingly able to pause, “mind the gap”, and clarify what’s actually being said. Poor communication will rapidly become a mental weed, clogging up and perhaps even strangling your precious relationship.

Interdependency versus co-dependency

Kahlil Gibran advises, “Let there be spaces in your togetherness”. This doesn’t mean either of you should abandon the other, but that it’s healthy for you to spend time apart as well as together, which is vastly different from cloying togetherness. Your long term relationship is actually enhanced by separate activity and even enhances it. Co-dependency sucks the very life out of your relationship. Interdependency enhances it.

Ongoing mindful renegotiation about miscellaneous boundaries

Relationships don’t remain static, because they’re a living entity with a life force of their very own. This is why you need to keep revising and renegotiating your boundaries, as time goes on.

 Mindfully respecting differences and appreciating and expanding on the similarities

Accept the things you can’t change about your partner and keep the spotlight on yourself. And when you do change, then the whole dynamic of your relationship shifts. Keep the focus and your energy on fixing yourself.

Being first and foremost friends

Your partner should be your best friend – not your only one – but the person who’s clearly one hundred percent in your corner, come what may. Best friends do argue, of course, but ultimately the bond that binds them together overcomes all the difficulties that may threaten to separate them. Treat your partner like you’d treat any best friend: with love, patience and compassion. Before you have something tricky to say, ask yourself if it really has to be said, does it have to be said now, and what’s the kindest way of saying it – and breathe, before you say it.

Being able to say sorry

Unlike what you may have seen in the film “Love Story” –love IS having to say you’re sorry – even when strictly, you’re not. The pain of discipline versus the pain that stems from the regret of not apologising is infinitely better. I’m not saying you should be a scapegoat and take the blame for everything. It’s about achieving a happy medium, and focusing on what’s good in the relationship.

Showing continuing appreciation of and gratitude for the other.

There’s magic in the ordinary, in gestures of tenderness especially under stress. Demonstrating thoughtfulness doesn’t have to involve spending money or displays of ostentation. Write a gratitude list of each other’s positive traits.  Go through pictures and mementos of your early days and also your special ones. Never forget anniversaries, birthdays and significant days. Show each other consideration. Express you appreciation to each other for what you CAN do.

 Learning to grow through adversity

Nobody is exempt from suffering. Continue to share your wishes, hopes and dreams with one another, as this will enable you to visualise better times, which will surely come, because nothing lasts forever.

 Leaving the past behind

You’re here NOW, so don’t measure yourself against your partner’s past.  They are with you now and their past belongs exactly there, not in the present.

An intimate relationship is your greatest teacher – so learn your lessons well and don’t quit! It’s always way too early in a committed relationship to throw in the towel, unless something totally unacceptable happens, such as violence or an addiction for which your partner refuses to seek help. A great relationship can heal and nurture you in a much healthier way than your birth parent did – it’s like a mirror – reflecting the good, the bad, and the ugly in both of you.

 

Mindfulness and relationships

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October 24  |  Love & Relationships, Mindful communication, Mindfulness, Mindfulness and relationships, Mindfulness meditation, relationship communication, relationships, Self-Help, self-reinvention, Women and love  |   Cynthia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We all love a relationship happy ending.  As time goes by, this involves mindful effort and persistence. I set out below, the most important aspects, in my opinion of mindful loving.

 Good, open, mindful communication

Mindfulness is an especially invaluable tool in the area of couple communication, where it’s so easy to hear what we think is being said, through our personal filters, and then to overreact to it – strongly. More often than not, this is down to not only poor communication – but also our deeply personal, historical “stuff”.

Achieving and maintaining good communication is ongoing work. This is where practising communication mindfulness can be so helpful. When you put it into operation, you become increasingly able to pause, “mind the gap”, and clarify what’s actually being said. Poor communication will rapidly become a mental weed, clogging up and perhaps even strangling your precious relationship.

Interdependency versus co-dependency

Kahlil Gibran advises, “Let there be spaces in your togetherness”. This doesn’t mean either of you should abandon the other, but that it’s healthy for you to spend time apart as well as together, which is vastly different from cloying togetherness. Your long term relationship is actually enhanced by separate activity and even enhances it. Co-dependency sucks the very life out of your relationship. Interdependency enhances it.

Ongoing mindful renegotiation about miscellaneous boundaries

Relationships don’t remain static, because they’re a living entity with a life force of their very own. This is why you need to keep revising and renegotiating your boundaries, as time goes on.

 Mindfully respecting differences and appreciating and expanding on the similarities

Accept the things you can’t change about your partner and keep the spotlight on yourself. And when you do change, then the whole dynamic of your relationship shifts. Keep the focus and your energy on fixing yourself.

Being first and foremost friends

Your partner should be your best friend – not your only one – but the person who’s clearly one hundred percent in your corner, come what may. Best friends do argue, of course, but ultimately the bond that binds them together overcomes all the difficulties that may threaten to separate them. Treat your partner like you’d treat any best friend: with love, patience and compassion. Before you have something tricky to say, ask yourself if it really has to be said, does it have to be said now, and what’s the kindest way of saying it – and breathe, before you say it.

Being able to say sorry

Unlike what you may have seen in the film “Love Story” –love IS having to say you’re sorry – even when strictly, you’re not. The pain of discipline versus the pain that stems from the regret of not apologising is infinitely better. I’m not saying you should be a scapegoat and take the blame for everything. It’s about achieving a happy medium, and focusing on what’s good in the relationship.

Showing continuing appreciation of and gratitude for the other.

There’s magic in the ordinary, in gestures of tenderness especially under stress. Demonstrating thoughtfulness doesn’t have to involve spending money or displays of ostentation. Write a gratitude list of each other’s positive traits.  Go through pictures and mementos of your early days and also your special ones. Never forget anniversaries, birthdays and significant days. Show each other consideration. Express you appreciation to each other for what you CAN do.

 Learning to grow through adversity

Nobody is exempt from suffering. Continue to share your wishes, hopes and dreams with one another, as this will enable you to visualise better times, which will surely come, because nothing lasts forever.

 Leaving the past behind

You’re here NOW, so don’t measure yourself against your partner’s past.  They are with you now and their past belongs exactly there, not in the present.

An intimate relationship is your greatest teacher – so learn your lessons well and don’t quit! It’s always way too early in a committed relationship to throw in the towel, unless something totally unacceptable happens, such as violence or an addiction for which your partner refuses to seek help. A great relationship can heal and nurture you in a much healthier way than your birth parent did – it’s like a mirror – reflecting the good, the bad, and the ugly in both of you.

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Mindful dating v internal elephants

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February 23  |  Dating, Dating Coach, finding a relationshp, finding love, Love & Relationships, Mindful communication, Mindfulness, relationships, Self-Help, Women and love  |   Cynthia

Nail biting

Anxiety is a perfectly normal emotion to experience, when you’re in the early stages of dating a new, prospective partner.  But it needn’t be a nail biting experience, if you take a few moments to pause, reflect and go about dating in a mindful way. Below are some quick tips on how to prevent the butterflies in your tummy, from morphing into a sabotaging date-wrecking herd of elephants, rampaging around in your innards.

Be prepared

Like the scouts, being prepared for all eventualities is key. This may not sound very sexy and spontaneous, but if you were applying for a new job, if you’ve got any sense, you’d be doing research on the company you hoped to be employed by. Why should it be any different with a prospective lover?  I don’t mean for you to start stalking his bestie, drive past his pad at midnight, staring longingly at his closed bedroom curtains, or make an absolute tit of yourself, in any other way.  But undertaking a little bit of pre-assignation investigation will help quell your nerves on The Date, and won’t necessarily turn you into a latter day female Inspector Clouseau of “Pink Panther” fame.

Brainstorm potential topics of conversation.  Find out what he’s interested in and read up on it. Be aware of current affairs but stay well clear of contentious topics such as sex, politics or religion –  the first few dates aren’t the time to regale him with your salacious intimacy “previous”.  These topics are potential date-busters!

Self-care

Pamper yourself so you feel at your very best.  Don’t wear anything that will make you feel self-conscious – ie a décolleté which is so extreme, that if you’re not careful, you’ll end up tripping over your own boobs. Nor should you wear a dress which is so frigging short, your prospect can see your tonsils.  There’s a time and place for everything and this isn’t it! If you’re unsure, ask a trusted friend for input.  Safe is one hell of a lot better than sorry.

BREATHE!

Give yourself plenty of time to get there. Plan the best route beforehand, leaving room for error, such as getting lost, tube strikes, people under a bus etc.  Sit quietly before you leave, and practise some very simple, mindfulness breathing.  I realise you may be so worked-up that your head resembles a washing machine in the spin cycle – but that’s only  reason to meditate more.

Practising mindfulness during the date

Listen to your prospect more than YOU speak!  Remember to practise deep, slow breathing during the date – not so fast that you hyperventilate and you need to engage in emergency breathing into a brown paper bag. This could be somewhat embarrassing! Simple and calmly is best. By so doing, you’ll avoid speaking at the speed of a machine gun engaged in active combat.  And speaking of guns – for God’s sake keep your powder dry. I repeat – don’t tell him your deepest, darkest and dirtiest secret. That’s first date suicide. And don’t drink too much either unless you’re not bothered about potentially presenting yourself as a neurotic, desperate lush!

Trust your instincts

If you do as I suggest, you’ll be far more in tune with the other person’s vibes. Trust yourself and your inborn instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, then it isn’t! If you’re super anxious, keep the first few dates short. Meet for coffee, a drink, lunch – then if all seems to be going swimmingly – you can take it to the next stage and meet for dinner. Remember – you’re not dating Prince Charming, just a regular guy who’s probably as nervous as you are.  Believe it or not – men suffer from dating nerves too.

Enjoy yourself!  That’s the whole point of the date – and remember, there are no true faux pas dating gaffes – just learning experiences. If it doesn’t go to plan, then keep breathing, don’t be hard on yourself, put it behind – and try again.

Have fun!

breathe-in-the-good-shit-t-shirts-men-s-t-shirt

 

 

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Minding the communication gap

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November 16  |  Mindful communication, Mindfulness, Mindfulness meditation, relationship communication  |   Cynthia

mind-the-gap

We live in a time where mindfulness has strongly come into vogue.  I believe this to be a very good thing as being more mindful, especially in our personal relationships, can only be positive.

In the area of couple communication, it’s so easy to hear what’s being said through our erroneous filters, and then to overreact to it – strongly. More often than not, this is down to not only poor communication – but also our deeply personal, historical “stuff”.  Good communication is lifelong ongoing work.

It’s back to the basic relationship principle again  – that we unconsciously drag everyone from our past into our current emotional set-up. That includes mother, father,Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

This is where practising communication mindfulness can be so helpful.  When you put this into operation, you become increasingly able to pause, “mind the gap”, and clarify what’s actually being said, as opposed to what you think is being said. When you do this, you’re far, far less likely to get your relationship knickers into a twist.

There are plenty of good mindfulness courses available but I strongly recommend that you sign up for a face to face one. You can’t “get” it from just reading a book on the subject and I also believe it’s infinitely better to make the commitment to physically attend course on mindfulness training, over an eight week period. You then have not only the expert trainer in front of you, but a supportive peer group who are also on the same journey as you. You’re also far likelier to stick to a committed mindfulness practice, if you feel “accountable” to the rest of the group!

Peter and I meditate together every single morning at 7.15 am. Believe me – we’re both incredibly busy people.  However, we both find that our short joint ritual pays relationship dividends.

We used to have a bit of a joke about our dreadful modus of communication.  Peter would say something completely inocuous, and my filter would pick it up in a totally injurious way. One day Peter made light of it and piped up “Spillman he say he love you – Namllips he say you’re a piece of shit”. If you’re quick on the trigger, you’ll immediately realise that Namllips is Spillman backwards.  I’m sure you get the point! I’m relieved to say that these days, Namllips is pretty much dormant, and only occasionally emerges for a brief airing, before we take corrective communication action.

There’s a zen saying that states, “you should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”

Mindfulness isn’t a fad. It’s here to stay. It’s scientifically proven to work, so do yourself a huge favour and search for a course today.

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