People come to me with all sorts of stories about the challenges they face in life and in their relationships. Today I want to talk to you about the power we have to change by working on ourselves. In particular mindfulness is the new buzz word for growth and for stress relief. You will be hearing more from me about this as I believe it’s key to a good relationship. Mindfulness is being used world-wide to treat cancer and burn out, to help with grief and depression, and to help alleviate anxiety. There is no limit to the areas of health in which mindfulness is being used worldwide. Mindfulness is a tool which can be learned. It is also a way of life. So what exactly is this new craze about and how can it help your relationships?
In a nutshell, to be mindful means to be aware. It means to be conscious of the present moment and to live from that place of conscious awareness. If you are familiar with my writing you will know that I speak regularly on the importance of responding rather than reacting. We all can be prone to moments of over-reaction, to lashing out in anger and words said which we regret. However, that does not mean that we cannot commit to woking on ourselves to minimise and hope to eradicate these times when we act or speak thoughtlessly and cause harm and hurt in our relationships.
Being mindful takes time and practice. Meditation helps in this. We develop the capacity to pause and not to be driven by the animal part of our brain that, based on our individual history causes us to repeat time and again the same old patterned ways of reacting when we feel threatened. Deep breathing is a part of it. As we meditate and pause, slowing down and watching our breath, we can begin to develop the capacity to notice our thoughts without needing to engage in the same old stories. It’s like watching a train pass through the stations but we watch and don’t hop on that particular train!
Why is this so valuable in relationships I hear you ask? Well, imagine if you pause regularly. Imagine if instead of your old conditioned responses you pause long enough to see if you can speak (or remain silent as is sometimes preferable) , from an open-hearted and compassionate place. A place that is honest and true but one that also makes room for another person’s perspective. Being mindful gives you the power to pause, to reflect and to respond rather than react. It gives you choice and that is empowering!