Updated: Apr 12, 2019
Most of us want to have at least one close, intimate relationship in our life; to feel connected, be supported and nourished by. But if we're honest we might find intimacy challenging, especially when we spend so much time online now and in our "heads" and maybe humans have always found them difficult. In Life Coaching I hear a lot about relationship struggles and in my own life, embodied mindfulness has been a key skill and practice that has helped me build social awareness, empathy and develop awareness of my own unhelpful relationship patterns. Once you're aware you take responsibility for what you're creating and can begin to practice new ways of being that are more helpful and aligned with your values and what your heart desires.
You can develop skills and practices that can help release the emotional patterns that keep you feeling separated from other human beings and be more open to the togetherness of relationship. It all begins with the relationship you have with yourself and the effort you're willing to invest in others by expanding your mindfulness and compassion to encompass them. It takes practice, patience and self-discipline to harmonise but let's look at some helpful elements we explore in coaching that you can develop when navigating the relationship landscape.
It's easy to blame your partner, to start focusing on their shortcomings and project your own shadow so that distance begins to build up inside you. Loving a person just the way they are is never easy since we can barely love ourselves. How many of us criticise and judge? It's painful to look at our own shadow and after awhile we project it to make ourselves feel better, this in itself creates a polarised illusion of separation. As humans we are deeply conditioned by fear and if you can recognise this it is an opportunity to cultivate self-compassion and learn to skilfully let go of some of our fearful based reactions. We may try not to see people as fixed or static but ever changing and dynamic beings that are imperfect and vulnerable and quit all the unreasonable expectations of yourself and others and make space for our truth.
If we want to connect then we must be able to feel connected with ourselves first. A mindfulness practice can help with this, just checking into the body, breath and seeing what is going on inside instead of always experiencing life through your thoughts. A strong mind body connection will help the organism of the body feel the emotions that flow through you and being present for another means feeling what they feel too. It's the feelings in our bodies that give us energy and meaning and when we attune ourself with the life force that flows through us we can begin to harmonise with the other person/s energy too. Empathy lets us feel another person and experience the gift of connection and when we can really tune in and listen to the other person we can put aside our judgments and hold them in our heart. Being able to do this helps us feel needed and shows others we truly care because we are designed to be social creatures it helps us come alive when we can attend to each other unconditionally.
Being physically close with your partner is an essential ingredient of intimacy and love. Just hugs alone help us reduce stress and forget our worries, it also helps us communicate and heal the things we cant put into words or thoughts. An emotional connection grows with intimacy and we're able to let sparks fly and our bodies speak their language of love through touch and closeness. As we share an emotional connection our physical bodies can grow closer and naturally find ways to feel the fires of passion climax to help remind us of our essential nature; one being releasing the magical and sacred energy of life itself.
It's really important to celebrate your relationships, sharing positive experiences together and acknowledging the other persons achievements. Reflecting their good feelings helps create a currency between the two of you that can build resiliency during times of struggle. A positive upward spiral of emotional joy and good feelings go along way and according to the research is a hallmark of relationship longevity along with being a support during tough times.
Communication is an important ingredient in relationships and good communication involves listening, empathy, congruence and sharing authentically. Let the other person feel what they feel and if you can share the experiences you have together and be careful not to be harmful when communicating in conflicts. Boundaries are important here, you must share the way you wish to be communicated to and call out it when communications don't respect your boundaries. Always own your feelings and take responsibility for how you act allowing the other person the freedom to make choices based on your truth. Sometimes space to cool down can help you both reconnect calmly and compassionately if a heated argument has occurred. Respect the others need to close at time but be sure you both open your hearts to each other honestly and mindfully.
Keep the fires of passion in your relationship burning strong by having rituals that you do together that bring inspiration, meaning and a sense of playfulness to the relationship. Maybe it's a music festival or concert, an art gallery, a local hipster bar or a day trip to the forrest or down the coast. Sharing new experiences that bring you both pleasure and relaxation helps you connect and be happy and have keep that warm glow alive. Balance this time together when time spent on your own too.
Lastly, if you both have a sense of higher purpose that is meaningful, are philosophically aligned and you both value and find nobility in it your purpose you will always be able to use this as a way to navigate larger life and not sweat the small stuff. If this purpose aligns with your work you have literally hit the jackpot of living a life of value and meaning and if haven't as yet it is well worth the contemplation and pursuit. Life is short and living on purpose can offer you and your people a way to craft being human well.
You might like to try these three coaching activities at home with your partner
1. Together create a list of all the fun and meaningful experiences you want to have together and include the things you can do for the next generation so they too are learning relationships and feel connected to what a human relationship looks like.
2. Set aside a date night once a week to discuss the relationship honestly include things you're grateful for and things you are challenged by and any opportunities for relationship growth.
3. Put some strategies in place to make home time a place of valued connection. Switch off gadgets, reduce screen time, plan meals together without distraction and slow down and be present for one another so that home is a sanctuary and a restful place of connection.