Mindful Relationships: Maintaining Healthy Relationships That Expand Your Heart
Love is a beautiful, expansive thing. But, what happens when you hit a stumbling block in your relationship? What if you find the uncertainty inherent in new relationships challenging to your spiritual progression? How can you maintain yourself while nurturing your partner?
These are extremely legitimate questions that so many spiritually aware people struggle with. It isn’t easy to take care of yourself while caring for your partner unless you make a conscious effort.
That’s exactly what we’re here to talk about today, however. How can your relationship actually be a catalyst for growth instead of an unhealthy point of attachment?
The Power Of Love
Love makes us feel great. It alters our body chemistry, opens our heart chakra, and paves the way for truer insight into all facets of ourselves. Healthy love between two partners can actually support or accelerate their personal growth.
However, the emotions that surround romantic love can also easily become toxic and problematic. Even some relationships that look loving from the outside might appear different if we look closer from a mindfulness perspective.
If love has the power to make or break us, so to speak, how can we play with this tool in a way that enriches our lives?
As usual, the answer is with mindful attention and plenty of open communication.
Maintaining The Relationship Body, The Relationship System And The Individual
A good foundation for the discussion we’re about to have with each other is to establish a mindful, working idea of what’s going on in your relationship. We find it helpful to use certain terms to frame these discussions.
The Relationship System Paradigm
Your relationship system is like your circulatory system. Your heart, arteries, lungs, veins, and various other individual body parts work together to create a system that serves a purpose.
A Relationship System is made up of Partner A, Partner B, and The Relationship Body. If your romantic partnerships involve more partners, just tack on more letters, the analogy still works! Love is love!
For the system (the relationship itself) to function correctly, each part must be healthy. If any part falls out of harmony, dysfunction occurs. This is one way to conceptualize mindful relationships.
But, what’s The Relationship Body?
The Relationship Body In Mindful Relationships
You may have heard Eckhart Tolle speak about his concept of The Pain Body. He uses language to establish pain and the complex emotions and behaviors that accompany it as a separate entity from who you are.
This is helpful for a number of reasons. Firstly, it reminds us that we are separate from our pain. Secondly, this helps us see our pain as something we can exert some effect on. This also helps us feel detached enough to work with our pain in a way that’s less threatening.
We think that we can apply this kind of reasoning to relationships as well. By this logic, in each relationship, there are three entities: Partner A, Partner B, and The Relationship Body.
By checking in with each other and discussing the health of the relationship body, we access a language and methodology to observe and notice dysfunction before we attach to it. We can make small, compassionate changes before things go too far.
How are you? How Am I? How’s our buddy, The Relationship? A little detachment helps us remain honest and open and decreases the fear we can easily feel when we feel threatened. This entire process can also improve bonding between you and your partner because it gives you a mutual goal to strive for.
Love’s Inherent Potential
Let’s look through the lens of The Relationship System paradigm and examine some opportunities and potential pitfalls love provides. By considering these ingredients that make a healthy or unhealthy relationship, we can gain valuable perspective that helps us maintain harmony. Remember, our highest relationship goal is to cultivate and maintain mindful relationships that support our personal and collective journies!
Oh, love does challenge the ego! The confidence or lack thereof that we feel when we court a partner definitely engages the ego. When things go well, we feel on top of the world.
However, if we sense rejection or feel fear because we don’t want to lose our love interest, our wounded ego becomes toxic. This is bad for both us and our partners. It harms The Relationship Body as well.
Even feeling confident with your partner can become problematic if you attach in the wrong way or start to see your partner as a possession or extension of yourself.
The key to maintaining the healthiest mindset surrounding your ego in relationships is ‘awareness.’ This is part of what makes mindful relationships!
Check in with yourself and your partner about how each of you are feeling- not about each other but about yourselves. Are you moving closer to who you truly are? Conversely, do you find yourself becoming someone else in order to please each other? How do these feelings affect the health of the relationship itself?
Everyone has a different view of what love is. However, we feel that mindful love must contain a joint effort to support each other’s spiritual or personal growth. Your partner will change. You will also change. In turn, the relationship will change.
This doesn’t have to be threatening. Establishing a ‘we’re in this together’ mentality when it comes to overall growth within the relationship system. Your homework as a healthy partner is to regularly ask yourself, ‘Am I supporting my partner in their personal growth? Do I feel any fear that motivates me to hold them back? How can I support them more?’
Your Mindfulness Buddy
As you work to be a good support system for your partner and The Relationship Body and System, remember that you are mindfulness buddies as much as romantic partners.
Establish a dialogue that includes compassionate check ins and suggestions so you can bring things to your partner’s attention that they might not notice about themself or The Relationship Body.
The more you do this and the more compassionate and nonjudgmental you are when you do, the easier it will be to talk about difficult things if they occur.
You’ve already created a healthy pattern of trust and solidified your commitment to mindfulness!
Practicing Healthy Boundaries In Mindful Relationships
There will be times when you need to establish a boundary with your partner. This can be difficult because the healthiest way to do this is to juggle compassion, your strong feelings for this person, your needs, and the idea that they are not responsible for your emotions.
Communication is key here!
Tell your partner something you love and value about them that relates to the situation you’re discussing. Something like, ‘I love that you want to be with me often and it feels good when we’re together.’
Next state your need and your reason. ‘I also need time by myself so I can properly integrate my experiences and practice mindfulness.’
Then, suggest a solution. ‘I’d like to be able to ask you for alone time without threatening you or worrying that you’ll experience negative emotions. Can we try to do that more and see how it feels?’
This is a great formula when your Relationship System is already generally healthy. If you are out of harmony, instead of suggesting a solution, simply state what your behavior will be in the future. Be clear, compassionate, and concise.
This will hopefully prompt your partner to think differently about your needs. Your clarity and forthrightness gives them the opportunity to reflect on their own needs and choose a mindful action in response.
Want to learn even more tools about healthy boundary setting to health and thrive? Check out our eBook all about it!
Respecting Your Partner’s Autonomy
This next point relates directly to boundaries but also more broadly to your entire Relationship System.
Try to remember that it isn’t our job to KEEP our partner, it’s our job to be healthy. We must strive to respect their own autonomy and not manipulate them in any way to achieve a desired outcome.
Not only is this disrespectful and harmful for your partner, but it will never actually serve our own needs. Whenever we are dishonest or confusing, manipulative or codependent, we muddy the water and make it more difficult to forge relationships with people who truly resonate with us.
Being Responsible For Your Own Emotions
This might be one of the most difficult relationship aspects and it relates to boundary setting.
You are not responsible for your partner’s emotions and they aren’t responsible for yours.
When you enmesh your emotional responses with your partner’s actions, you create a codependent environment within your Relationship System. This eventually makes The Relationship Body unwell.
It’s so easy to react to what your partner does and blame them for how you feel. It requires constant communication and acknowledgment as well as mindful language use in order to illuminate this potential issue.
The two (or more!) of you came together because it felt good. You feel free and expansive with each other. You’re standing next to each other because you want to, not because you’re obligated to.
Of course, your partner will sometimes do things that you react to negatively. However, using the paradigm of The Relationship System should help you navigate these situations in a mindful way.
How can you talk about these things without blame and with less attachment? How will you talk about negative emotions in a way that ultimately supports a harmonious Relationship System?
Working With Powerful, Chaotic Sexual Energy In Mindful Relationships
Now, for the fun part. The sexual chemistry within your Relationship System is a powerfully creative force that you can and should playfully use to accelerate your growth!
If you aren’t a very sexual person for whatever reason, substitute the idea of sexual attraction for any emotion you feel for your partner that makes you excited. It’s that high vibrational energy we’re really talking about here.
If you love the way they make you laugh, that’s creative, chaotic energy. You might also love the way they inspire you, this is powerful for your own growth.
The Universe runs on chaos. It creates novel expressions and experiences that perpetuate forward motion. We’re loosely borrowing from Terrence McKenna here, but you don’t have to believe his novelty theory to embrace the spirit of these words. New things create new potential in your life and that’s the energy that powers growth!
Resistance can also be a catalyst for growth, but eventually, that resistance spurs you to do something different and that’s novel. That’s our point.
We hope you and your partner can mutually value the creativity of your sex life or the things that excite you about each other. Let these elevated experiences spark joy for you!
Using This Framework To Promote Health And Harmony
Our only goal here is to help you think about what relationships mean to your mindfulness journey and to give you some tools to help you remain open and non-attached.
You can love your partner without trying to change or possess them. In fact, when you do, you’ll unlock a whole new avenue for growth.
Why not take the first step and share this blog with your partner or partners? Start the dialogue and spread the word!