Last month I spent a week on silent meditation retreat. It reminded me that everything we do is potential meditation—our intention as we walk, do the dishes, or say hello to our neighbors. When we move slowly, with loving awareness, life becomes an art form. Our relationships are training grounds for mindfulness practice.
When you choose to break the patterns of reactivity and avoidance, you open yourself to deep places of being. How do we do that in relationships? The first step is to catch yourself in reaction (racing heart/thoughts/churning stomach) and then try:
- Allowing your feelings to be there and even befriend them. “Hello sadness. Tell me a little about why you’re here today.”
- Imagining what it’s like to be the person you’re reacting to. Remember, “Just like me, this person struggles and wishes to be happy.”
- Listening. Sit in a quiet space for a few moments, and listen to your natural breath. As your mind wanders, see if you can notice it and bring your attention back to the breath. Keep coming back to the breath—it doesn’t matter how much you wander.
These acts of mindfulness become our new habits, with daily practice. Family life gives us ample opportunity to forgive ourselves and each other and begin again.