We have conversations with ourselves all day long. “What just happened?” or “What’s going to happen?” are common themes. Oddly enough, the story that often gets left out is “What’s happening right here, right now.” When we leave out what’s happening in the moment, we are missing out on, well…. everything. And, that includes our relationships.
Quick lesson: What is mindfulness? Answer: Being fully present in the moment. End of lesson. Told you it was quick.
You see, there’s nothing “woo-woo” or “out there” about mindfulness. In fact, mindfulness is very much “right here.” It’s a simple concept really. And, so difficult for many of us to be.
Relationship literally means “the state of being connected.” When we aren’t mindful in our relationships, our relationships fall apart. If you’re eating dinner together and one of you is thinking about the mess at work tomorrow and the other is thinking about a fight they just had with a friend, there’s not much mindfulness going on at that table.
Couples have become so good at not being mindful that they can have whole conversations without hearing what each other is saying.
Put enough of these experiences together, and you are putting your relationship on autopilot.
Relationships on autopilot feel boring, old, and stale. They feel like something is missing. Well yeah, the “state of being connected” is missing.
Newsflash: Without a “state of being connected” you ain’t got a relationship.
So, how do you get more into connection? Anyone?? If you said something like “be more mindful or more present” you’re on the right track.
For the next minute, close your eyes and just concentrate on your breathing. If some thoughts come in – don’t worry about them – just notice them and let them go – continue focusing on your breathing. Go ahead and do that – I’ll wait.
Congratulations! You were just mindful!
Notice how you feel during and just after this exercise. The next time you are with your partner try bringing that kind of presence to your relationship.
Keep in mind that this is a practice. You’re not going to be perfect at this mindfulness stuff, not many are. And, the goal is not perfect. The goal is to be more present than you were.
Being mindful is challenging not because paying attention to what is in front of us is particularly difficult. It’s challenging because we forget to do it.
Here’s an idea: Set a reminder in your phone to take a few deep breaths and get present. One good time would be just before you connect with your partner, say, before getting home from work. You could put a “Get Present” sign on your bathroom mirror, door to your house…you get the idea.
The next time your partner wants to have a chat, give the same kind of focused attention to your partner as you give to your breath in this exercise.
Notice what’s different about your relationship when you are more mindful. And, consider sharing what you are up to with your partner. You can even do a minute of focused breathing together – it’s a great way to get connected to each other rather than to those stories about the past and future running in your head.
Let us know what happens. We’d love to hear from you.
Howard Stanten MPT,CPCC is an Executive Leadership and Professional