Mindfulness is a state and an attitude to living that helps you be more open, compassionate, and self-aware. It involves consciously directing your attention away from autopilot mode and negative, judgmental thoughts; ultimately allowing you to be more present and connected to whatever is happening in the now.
Now, it’s not so hard to believe that more mindful people probably make better romantic partners. In fact, scientific research reveals that higher levels of mindfulness predict happier, more satisfying relationships!
Below are five brain-based 5 Ways Mindfulness Can Transform Your Relationship and Make It the Best It’s Ever Been:
Mindfulness Helps You Be More Present & Attentive
Many people know how frustrating it can be to try and talk to a partner who is continuously checking their email or text messages. Or maybe their attention is always being hijacked by worries at work. Mindfulness changes areas of the brain which are associated with directing attention and focus. So mindfulness can actually help us notice when we are on autopilot, and redirect our attention to our partner; what they may be saying, what they may be feeling, or what they may be needing. This can help us be more loving and present in our relationships, increasing intimacy and making us feel happier and more closely connected.
Mindfulness Enhances Emotion Regulation
Research studies show us that practicing mindfulness strengthens the prefrontal cortex and improves the connectivity between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. The prefrontal cortex is the brain’s executive centre. It can send messages to the amygdala, telling it that things are safe and okay, so it can calm down and stop the Fight, Flight, Freeze response. This ensures that even when we do start to lose it or walk away from our partners when they are in the middle of talking, we’re also able to say: “Wait! Stop. This is not helping anything.” In this way, we’re able to stop ourselves from falling down a relationship rabbit hole.
Mindfulness Lowers Negative Emotional Reactivity
Other studies show that practicing mindfulness for around 8 to 10 weeks actually alters the brain’s emotion regulation areas. The amygdala is a small, almond-shaped part of the midbrain that attacks the brain into Fight, Flight, Freeze mode — which results in us seeing our partners as threats to our own well-being or autonomy; so we tend to emotionally shut down or start to retaliate with enraged words and actions. Mindfulness reduces the volume of the amygdala; in other words, it renders it less powerful to hijack us into “threat” mode. This is a great tool for helping couples get out of negative and destructive cycles of arguing or emotional distancing.
Mindfulness Renders You More Empathic
Mindfulness also alters the brain’s insula — a part of the brain associated with compassion and empathy. This assists us in being more understanding of our partner’s emotions and perspectives; allowing us to feel more compassion for them. When we approach our partners with compassionate – rather than with anger or a desire to control – this leads things into a much more positive direction. Compassion also helps us express warmth and love to our partner; which further builds intimacy. In short, mindfulness creates an approach, not an avoidance mindset.
Mindfulness Increases Self-Awareness
Mindfulness also leads to changes in the anterior cingulate cortex in the brain — a part which is associated with our sense of self and emotion regulation. So mindfulness may help us notice when we’re acting out in unhealthy ways, and redirect our attention back to our core values and how we would consciously like to act. This can help us hold back any impulse to act in a destructive or manipulative manner.
The truth is, as human beings, we all want happier and healthier relationships; yet few of us actually have knowledge of the keys to unlocking relationship satisfaction. Instead of focusing your energy on complaining or trying to change your partner, take up a mindfulness practice. Even better, take a mindfulness course with your partner, or practice meditation using a mindfulness app, such as Calm! This will help you be more present, loving, and emotionally mature. ❤️