Mindfulness

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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How to shovel yourself out of the shit!

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August 16  |  Adversity, Mindfulness, motivation, overcoming adversity, Self-Help, self-reinvention, self-transformation, single women  |   Cynthia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We all feel down in the mouth at times. It’s part of being human. However, we needn’t stay there for long. Here are some simple tips to help dig yourself out of the vortex.

Prioritise your physical well-being

Practise physical self-love – stop punishing your body – treat yourself to nourishing and healthy foods. A car won’t run properly and reach its destination without the right fuel. Cut down on booze and pills. Pamper yourself. Don’t get into the debating society on this. You deserve it. Find a form of manageable and above all enjoyable exercise in which you can indulge regularly.

Take charge of your emotional state

Claim courage and take responsibility. Accept that we’re not responsible for the tragedies which happen to us but we are responsible for how we react to them and the messes we make of our lives. Identify which areas you play the victim in. Break these areas into bite-size chunks which you can then tackle. Pump yourself right out of that victim mentality. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Care enough about yourself to learn to lighten up. Look for the humorous side in your situation – it really is there, even if you have to emotionally contort yourself to find it. Do so because it’ll be worth it and be measured by the enormous sense of relief you’ll feel.
Stop the name and blame game – take responsibility where you need to and discard the rest. These habits completely destroy your inner power, because they prove that you’re still expecting solutions and changes from others. You’ve no power over anyone else but yourself.

When you’re wallowing in an orgy of self-pity, stop enjoying it. Force yourself out of that tangled up, childish, emotional nappy. What do nappies contain? So why stay there drowning in it? Take positive daily action to help yourself, no matter how seemingly insignificant or minute. This can be as simple as calling an encouraging friend, when all you want to do is sit and stare into space. Small actions like this will propel you out of the navel-gazing, analysis/paralysis syndrome and you’ll soon begin to feel immeasurably better.
Don’t indulge in negative talk. What you focus on expands and what doesn’t get taught, gets caught. Don’t touch it with a bargepole. Read inspiring literature. Keep a gratitude list, not a hit list. Write down five things every night which you’re grateful for, then review your list in the morning. The blessings are always there, even in the worst situation.

Take responsibility for your feelings and reactions.

You’re in charge of your life – no one else. Don’t be immobilised by or afraid of failure. Most seemingly successful people have made it after disastrous failures. Simply pick yourself up, dust yourself down and move on with belief and determination.
Don’t be a victim to others’ expectations. Be yourself at all times. Stop being a people-pleaser and a chameleon. There’s never any need to seek anyone else’s approval but your own and in this area practice does make perfect. Keep your own counsel and have the courage of your own convictions. If you have erred, don’t beat yourself up. Use that energy to forgive yourself.

Stick with the winners and not the whiners

Stick with the winners. Stay resolutely away from people with victim mentalities. Find someone you trust to help you to make a realistic appraisal of your situation. Treat yourself to a mental clear out. Find a support network with positive peer role models. There are thousands of resources out there for every area and every stage of our lives. When you’ve found your role model, be brave enough to ask for help and copy what they do as best you can. What’s the downside?

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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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Living with loss during the silly season

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December 21  |  Christmas, Grief & Bereavement, Love & Relationships, Mindfulness, overcoming adversity  |   Cynthia

grief-and-loss-remembering-family-at-christmas-christmas-with-family1

Whilst the madness of Christmas ensnares us with enforced joviality, let’s  pause and remember  that for many of us – due to loss – Christmas may never be the same again.

There are many variations on loss,   apart from the obvious physical death of a partner.  While it’s true that all of us, if we live long enough, are going to suffer some kind of personal loss, much as we rail against it, eventually we have to come to a place of acceptance, and then ultimately to move on emotionally. This doesn’t mean we ever forget the person we’ve lost, but that we learn to live with it. That knife-twisting pain in your gut eventually does fade.  Depending on the circumstances of this loss, the time it’ll take to travel and complete the grief journey, will vary from individual to individual and there’s no right or wrong way to plough through it. It’s tough and it wounds us to the core. It may also cause old scars to weep, because even with some emotional recovery time under your belt, there’ll always be a reminder, Christmas, a birthday or anniversary, or facing the New Year alone – which will apply fresh pressure to that inner scar – a bit like picking at a scab. The more severe the loss, the more those painful feelings may resurface.

The only person you must learn to please at this time of year – is yourself!

When will it stop hurting?  Nobody can answer that.  Whilst of course there are stages in healing, you simply won’t feel better for a very long time – whether other people like it or not. If you choose to stay in bed all Christmas day and duvet dive – that’s your business. You may also find yourself suffering from “Spare Woman Syndrome” – a perceived threat to your friends who are in a relationship. You don’t need to conform to anybody’s stereotypes or expectations.

Self-pity is ugly

 Self-pity is incredibly unappealing, and it’s futile. Unless you find the guts to discard it, it’ll swallow you up faster than any quick sand.  Many people undergo major traumas. What separates the wheat from the chaff – is attitude.  But there’s a stark difference here between self-pity, self-preservation and self-care.  The bottom line is that most people are way too worried about their own “stuff”, to want to absorb any of yours.  If you allow yourself to become totally identified by your loss, you’re going to be lonely for a very long time. Your loss IS significant, but it’s only a part of you – not the whole story of who you are as a person.

 Mindfulness and loss

Mindfulness is a way of anchoring ourselves, right now, this very second, into this day, this hour, this  minute. This practice teaches us to mind the gap, to provide that split second of choice – that near sacred pause, during which we can choose to react to stimuli or to respond in a more self-nurturing way. It’s cumulative and it leads to the ability to detach from troublesome situations, thereby maintaining our own precious reserves of energy, to be used in a more fruitful manner.

Easy does it

 Churchill said, “if you’re going through hell, keep going.” Take small steps. Remind yourself that you deserve happiness and that you have it within yourself to recover from and overcome any past loss. The saddest words in the English language are, “if only” – the saddest death of all – loss of hope. Don’t let that be your epitaph. And above all – remember – love never dies.

 

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