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Can mindfulness improve my relationships?

Ronald Siegel
Psychology
Mindfulness has been linked to happier, more resilient relationships. In The Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, researchers at the University of Rochester reported that higher levels of mindfulness, as measured by people's self-ratings on 15 statements related to being focused in the present, are linked to more satisfactory relationships and to a greater capacity to respond to conflicts constructively, with less stress and better communication.
Yogi Cameron Alborzian
Alternative & Complementary Medicine

What is it that usually causes conflict in our relationships? More often than not, it's because of a disagreement over a situation. One person might feel that the other person should treat them a certain way, but the other person has a contrasting viewpoint. One person might want to spend more time together, but the other person feels that they see each other just the right amount. And as the disagreements become more intense, the texture of the relationship deterioriates. Often, relationships dissolve completely because of a difference in opinon over something.

A lot of this conflict can be alleviated by being more present to any given situation. When we have a disagreement with someone, rather than react it can be helpful to observe why the other person might have the perspective they have and how that perspective differs from our own. This is a form of mindfulness. It's a practice of observing what is happening in the moment and acting in a more balanced way as a result. Our partner might want to spend less time together than we do, but rather than wallow in feelings of rejection or unworthiness, we can consider why they might want to be on their own a bit more than we do. Perhaps they have more responsibilities than we do, or they are struggling to overcome past emotional traumas. Whether we remain in that relationship or not, if we stay mindful of it we can alleviate a great deal of suffering in ourselves and others.

To begin practicing greater mindfulness in your relationships, try taking three full breaths whenever you receive communication from someone that would otherwise lead you to react with painful emotions. This will help you to remove yourself from that reaction and respond with greater balance.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.