Relationships come and go. We date, we break up, we date again, we break up again. Through all this dating, how much do we learn about how to have a good relationship? Often, very little. Too often these relationships are like two ships passing in the night–or more accurately, like two sponges trying to absorb something from one another, with little to go around.
The practice of mindfulness involves being aware of what is happening in the present moment. In meditation, we still the body and we train the mind to come back again and again to the present moment, usually to bodily sensations such as the breath. This practice has a point: life happens in the here-and-now, not in our heads.
We go into relationships with so many expectations: the conversations “should be like THIS”, the sex “should be like THAT,” the feeling I have about someone “should be like THIS.” There are so many things we want to get from the other person. What do we want to give, though?
Relationships work well when both partners are primarily concerned with giving, and only secondarily concerned with getting. We usually get this backward. To be giving to someone, whether in dating, conversation, arguments or sex, we need to be present in this moment. We can’t do that when we’re stuck in our own thoughts, our own expectations and stories about how we’re not getting exactly what we want. We can’t listen to another person when we’re planning what we’re going to say next. We can’t enjoy sexual contact when we’re stuck in thoughts about whether it’s “good enough” or not.
If you want to have good relationships, practice being present. Practice being present and listening carefully, giving your full attention no matter who is speaking, be it your parent or child, or the garbageman. Practice being present to all sensations, whether they are pleasant or not. Practice letting go of thoughts, watching the mind passively and being present to the breath, for at least a few minutes a day. And Learn to meditate from any number of sites that teach meditation and offer free downloads, such as the Insight Meditation Center’s site.
You may just find that your relationship life mysteriously improves after a few months of such practice!