Mindfulness: Living in the Moment

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The ding of your phone as emails come in, planning tomorrow's activities or worrying over past mistakes, our minds are often battlegrounds of thoughts and information competing for our attention. This constant state of mental racing can leave us drained, anxious, and stressed. You've probably heard "mindfulness" mentioned as an alternative approach to dealing with the noise of our lives. But what does being mindful mean?

What is Mindfulness?

In Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation In Everyday Life, Jon Kabat-Zinn defined mindfulness as "paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally." Mindfulness is a form of meditation that focuses our minds to what is happening right now and choosing to not pass judgment on whatever thoughts or emotions arise.

Benefits of Mindfulness

Practicing meditation has multiple benefits, including helping to alleviate stress, anxiety, pain, depression, and even insomnia. Mindfulness in particular is also being explored for potential benefits to military personnel with traumatic brain injuries and even as treatment for internet gaming disorder. Potential applications for mindfulness are still being discovered, such as in the workplace to help avoid job burnout and work-related stress.

Practicing Mindfulness

What does mindfulness look like in practice? While there are many ways to be mindful, here are a few approaches to get started:

  • Raisin Exercise – Take a raisin in your hand and encounter it as if you've never seen one before. How does it look? How does it feel? Pop it in your mouth. How does it taste? Slowly chew while focusing on the experience. By focusing on the raisin, you are forcing your mind to be present in the moment.

  • Mindful Breathing – Breathe in and out slowly, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Pay attention as the breath goes in and out, giving your body life. Let your thoughts flow out with each breath.

  • Body Scan – Lie flat on your back. Close your eyes if this helps you focus. Become aware of where your body is pushing against the floor. Starting at the bottom of your feet, slowly bring your attention to each part of your body until you reach the top of your head.

Mindfulness is a simple practice to bring into your life with multiple potential benefits. Give mindfulness a try and experience the restfulness of living in the moment.

By the way, if you need any support regarding you as an individual or with your relationship, feel free to contact us today to learn how we can help.

10 Easy Ways to Please Your Partner

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Too often, communication between long term couples can be reduced to "shop talk"- the boring, logistical pieces of your lives. Did you take out the trash? What  time is the dinner on Sunday? Are examples of shop talk- and loving relationships need much more than that to keep up the connection.

Deeper communications may require an internal shift and some action around "small talk", and what I consider the lifeblood of any healthy relationship. Here are some ways to get the conversation started.

 Thank you for...

Everyone likes to be acknowledged and appreciated for what they do. Thank your partner for more than what you just asked them to do. Thank your partner for being a great parent, or always making time for you. 

How do you feel about...

Ask, and then really listen to what your partner is saying. Try to withhold judgement, and see what their response is.  

I forgive you...

Accepting your partner's apology for their mistakes is a way to let go of resentment, and that frees you both.  In fact, admitting your own mistakes may make you feel vulnerable, but your honesty is likely to inspire your partner to do the same.   

I agree with you because...

On any given day, we have people in  our lives that seem to love to disagree with us. Validating your partner's point of view  and perspective helps them feel heard, and strengthens the bond between the two of you.  

What are you reading?...What do you think about?...

Open up non "shop" talk communication on an intellectual level and you may feel the warmth of common views- or the sparks of difference- that drew you together in the past. Another version is Where do you want to be in five years? ... Listen to what your partner's vision is, and then share your own. The answers might inspire a new, shared plan or uncover hidden needs. 

Find your own variations of the questions above, or use these. Either way, you'll be sure to close some distance between yourself and your partner- and who knows where that will lead.   

A Fair Fight

Conflict doesn't mean that your relationship is in trouble - it means that you are two living, thinking beings with individual opinions. Both happy and unhappy couples disagree - how can any two people share a house, jobs, in-laws, pets or kids without an occasional spat? Everyone disagrees at some point - but when do you know that things are out of hand? There's a world of difference between constructive criticism and dirty fighting. With the right tools and mind set, conflict can actually become a path to deeper intimacy - the chance to be seen as you truly are, to accept your partner's vulnerable and unique self, and to build a strong partnership.

Partnerships and couples need to have discussions, they need to solve problems, and sometimes they need to disagree, but they don't need to squabble, argue, bicker, or fight. Fights are dramatic, which is not helpful to a discussion. If you have enough energy to create drama, you have more than enough to tone it down into a discussion. Here are a set of guidelines you may find helpful in arguing.

  • Remember the point of the fight is to reach a solution, not to win, be right, or make your partner wrong.
  • Don't try to mind read. Ask instead what he or she is thinking.
  • Don't bring up all the prior problems that relate to this one. Leave the past in the past; keep this about one recent problem. Solve one thing at a time.
  • Keep the process simple. State the problem, suggest some alternatives, and choose a solution together.
  • Practice equality. If something is important enough to one of you, it will inevitably be important to both of you, so honor your partner's need to solve a problem.
  • Ask and Answer questions directly. Again, keep it as simple as possible. Let your partner know you hear him or her.
  • State your problem as a request, not a demand. To make it a positive request, use "I messages" and "please".

Next time you have an argument, practice some of these guidelines and you will be amazed at how the interaction will change.