A good relationship starts with a deep bond. Here’s how a meditation practice could be the missing link between you and the emotional connection you desire.
Have you ever been on a date and suddenly realized you haven’t heard a word the other person said? Maybe you were lost in thought about a pending deadline at work or preoccupied by a fantasy of what the relationship might evolve into. In a culture where you’re bombarded by a constant flow of information, endless notifications, countless emails, a steady stream of text messages, and oh-so much more, it’s no wonder clearing your mind is hard work!
Luckily, meditation can help you return to the present moment and support you in developing a deeper connection with potential partners by learning to listen with greater focus and presence.
The Gift of Clarity
One of the great gifts a meditation practice provides is clarity. As you sit down daily for your practice, you become familiar with your inner dialogue. Through a consistent mindfulness practice, you develop an intimate familiarity with your thoughts and come to see that your mind is a vast and brilliant storytelling machine which classifies every experience into categories such as “like” or “dislike,” “good” or “bad,” “want” or “don’t want,” “yes” or “no,” and on and on. Sound familiar? This seemingly endless internal narration can be exhausting and incredibly distracting, preventing you from mindfully and consciously connecting with your partner.
This categorization is your brain’s survival mode at work—it’s an attempt to control your experience. Rather than berate your mind for this habit remember: this cataloging comes from a loving place. Your mind wants to keep you safe! Your brain wants what’s best for you! Unfortunately, if left unaddressed, this noise clutters your reality and disrupts the connection with the person right in front of you. As a result, you miss out on clear communication and potentially a great partner or signals that a partner might not be a good fit.
But it Takes Practice
If you don’t already have a meditation practice, start simply. What amount of time can you commit to daily? 5 minutes? 10 minutes? You don’t have to sit for hours on end like a monk in the Himalayas to experience the benefits of meditation.
Choose a reasonable amount of time and commit to practicing five days a week. Find a comfortable seat, set a timer, close your eyes, and practice listening to the sounds that arise and pass in your environment. As the sounds arise, see if you can hear them without judging, criticizing, or otherwise categorizing them. Sound is simply sound. If you hear a car drive by, say to yourself, “sound.” If you hear someone talking in the other room, say to yourself, “sound.” The sound isn’t “good” or “bad,” it isn’t “right” or “wrong,” the sound is simply sound. Hear the sound, then listen as it fades away again before the next sound arises. Sound is a wonderful anchor for your focus because it’s always happening in the present moment! Meditating on sound will help you develop listening skills which will translate into a clearer mind and deeper connections with potential partners.
Put It Into Action
The next time you’re on a date, put your practice into action. Listen to what the other person is saying. Hear their words and try to suspend any judgement for the time being. Focus on listening as a way to learn about this person, receive new information about them, and build a more meaningful connection.
When you notice the urge to plan what you will say next, return to listening, just like you did in your meditation practice. When you get caught up in planning what you will say when it’s your turn to speak, take a deep breath, and begin listening again. When it’s your time to speak, you’ll speak from the present moment, with a clearer mind, and from a more heartfelt place. This is a beautiful practice for new couples and longstanding couples alike.
If you do get distracted, admit it! Let the other person know you care about what they have to say and kindly ask them to repeat. This type of honesty helps establish trust and clarity from the outset of your relationship and will support long-term communication success.
Meditation is not going to stop your mind from having thoughts. That isn’t actually the point of meditation! Instead, a meditation practice will help you develop an entirely new relationship to your thoughts so you can discern what most deserves your attention, clear your mind, and focus fully on the present moment for a happier more fulfilling relationship experience.
If you’d like more support and guidance in building a consistent meditation practice, join me for Meditation 101 at InnerDimensionTV.com. Meditation 101 is a 28-day program which I co-created with fellow meditation teacher Travis Eliot. This program will help you establish a daily mindfulness practice so that you can build the mental muscles of clarity, presence, and deep listening for more powerful relationships.
About the Author
Lauren Eckstrom is the Executive Director of Inner Dimension Media. Lauren guides some of the world’s best-known musicians, fashion icons, filmmakers and executives, as well as Fortune 500 companies, in both yoga and meditation. She co-authored Holistic Yoga Flow: The Path of Practice and was the associate producer of the award-winning DVD series “The Ultimate Yogi.” She has written about yoga and mindfulness for Yoga Journal, Mind Body Green, The Huffington Post, LA YOGA, and Mantra magazine.
Bio photo credit: BLK WHT CREATIVE