By now we all know that meditation can help us combat stress, improve our sleep, get us more present, clear our mind, help us be more productive, and so much more. The benefits are endless, and it’s been proven time after time how we can improve so many aspects of our lives by simply closing our eyes, focusing on our breath, and staying in the moment. Let’s take this a step further, and talk about how meditation can help nurture our relationships - from family and friends, to coworkers and significant others.
Why is there a rush hour at 11am? Why is this woman taking so long in the ATM queue? For the love of God, can someone please explain why he has 25 items in his cart when this is the fast check-out lane??? Oh, and is there literally no company I can call without talking to a machine? Do NOT put me on hold….
Do these sentences sound familiar? I bet they do. Tolerance is not our strong suit, and although we sometimes feel bad for not being more patient, or snapping when we really shouldn’t have, how much do we really work towards changing it? Meditation surely helps with this one, because it creates a sense of peace and calm within our bodies, which we can tap into more frequently once we get a hang of it. So, instead of going all crazy because there is a line in the grocery store, take a couple of deep breaths, and accept that there’s nothing you can change in this very moment. It’s incredible what just a simple little thing like that can do to a person.
We are all guilty of zoning out in the middle of someone’s speech and our mind starts wandering, thinking of the grocery haul we have to do, emails we didn’t respond to, and what to wear to that birthday party next weekend. We are also guilty of being so impatient to say what’s on our minds, that we often don’t listen to what the other person has to say at all.
Meditation has been known to improve our sense of listening and actually processing the words coming out of the other person’s mouth by focusing on the present moment and taking the time to generate the best reply. What’s the point of a conversation if you’re not even there? Or if you’re already configuring what you’re gonna say before that person even finishes? Best case scenario, that person might be doing the same thing so they won’t notice, but what happens when they do? They feel hurt, start to think you don’t respect them or value their opinion, and realize your advice might not even be needed anymore.
No wonder lots of relationships fail for that very reason - not listening, and I mean Really listening to other people’s thoughts, emotions, wishes, desires, and arguments. Of course, nothing can changed overnight, but after you’ve gotten into your meditation routine (even for 5 min each day), check back in with yourself and try to see how your conversations play out. You might notice a huge difference :)
Everyone has problems. We all know it. But, we also seem to think our problems are THE worst. I recently read a quote that said “If we all put our problems on the table in front of us, and we were told we could pick any of them back, we would all choose our own”. You know why? Because we’re used to them. We know how we feel about them, and even though we sometimes think “Oh, how I wish I had her life and her problems”, we really don’t. That still doesn’t give us the right to succumb to self-pity and blatantly ignore everyone else. Meditation not only helps us deal with our problems and see the solutions more clearly, it also makes us more compassionate towards others and their problems. What seems like a stupid thing to worry about to us may be the worst possible thing for someone else. Remember, you never know what that person is going through and what does he/she struggle with.
We are all so different; with different opinions and backgrounds that shaped us into people we are now. Respecting where the other person comes from is one of the most important aspects of every relationship. So many people impose their beliefs and opinions on others, firmly believing how only they are in the right, while everyone else is wrong. Meditation opens our mind to seeing things from another perspective, and helps us realize that maybe "our way is not the only way", but just one way among many others. Every story has more than one side, and it’s very important to respect people’s emotions and feelings even if we don’t agree with them. When we treat others with respect they deserve, not agreeing on certain topics doesn’t even present a problem, it actually presents an amazing foundation for discussion, from which new ideas can arise, and people feel valued.
These are just some aspects in which meditation can help nurture our relationships and keep them healthy. Arguments and disagreements will always be there, but if we approach every situation with an open mind and an open heart, we are able to see things from a different perspective and maybe even change our own beliefs and opinions. Try it out for yourself and notice how you’re reacting, listening and tolerating...one thing I do know for sure is, you will definitely lower your stress hormones and keep them in check.