The Messy Art of Relationships (part 3)

As mentioned in the previous blog, taking a pause from dating can provide some necessary space for introspection and self-examination, which is necessary for looking at our relationship patterns honestly. Being in a relationship clouds our objectivity and makes it more difficult to see those patterns.

Meditation

Another helpful practice in creating this space is meditation, mindfulness meditation in particular. When we are so immersed in the hustle and bustle of daily life, constantly shifting our attention from one task to the next, it becomes extremely challenging to focus our attention for any length of time. As a result, we can become scattered in our thought and behavior, which may prevent us from seeing things clearly, especially when it comes to relationships.

Mindfulness meditation allows us to slow down our thoughts so we can observe them, see them for what they are, and then let them go, rather than identify with them. Over time, we can hone the ability to pay attention to what is going on around us and within us. And when we are more attentive, we become more aware, and this heightened sense of awareness allows us to see our patterns of thought and behavior more clearly. And only when we acknowledge the true nature of our problems can we be moved to action so that we may make better choices in the future.

Mindfulness in Plain English

Mindfulness meditation has its roots in Buddhist philosophy, but it has also more recently been empirically validated in numerous clinical studies. Regardless of your religious or philosophical beliefs, it can be easily incorporated into your own life. One resource on mindfulness meditation that I find particularly helpful is the book “Mindfulness in Plain English”, by Henepola Gunarantana. Although it is written by a Buddhist monk, it is written in laymen’s terms without any religious language or connotations. Check out this free PDF version online:

Mindfulness in Plain English

In the next blog post, I’ll wrap up this series on relationships by offering some final thoughts on how we can learn to cultivate healthier interpersonal relationships in our lives.