I love the above quote about Mindfulness – it really clarifies and simplifies our spiritual practice, doesn’t it?! So how do we put this simple practice to use in our relationships?
I think one of the hugest challenges we have with other people is wishing that they were different than they are. Even in people whom we love very much, we can’t help noticing what we perceive as their faults, flaws – basically, areas where they are unlike who we are.
With our loved ones, it’s helpful to remind ourselves that everyone is on a different journey through life and their path may not look like ours. If it seems that they need help, we can offer it, but we need to honor their wishes if they decline the offer.
If we insist on just well-meaningly stepping into their process to “help” move it along or give advice – which we often do with our children or spouses – it often does not end well. We might feel we’re “helping”, but it really is a disrespect and a disservice to the person working it out for themselves at the pace and in the way that is best for their self-mastery.
If you are single and looking for a life partner, you’re constantly dating inappropriate choices until you find a partner that’s worth exploring further. So until you get to that point, you’re noticing how different your date is from yourself, or maybe how different your date is from your idea of your ideal mate.
Practicing mindfulness is getting through the date without wishing it were different. That practice allows you to observe, notice, and learn what it is that you really want and don’t want in a partnership, and improves your chances of finding a match sooner. Judging the experience as bad or unpleasant can actually block your ability to find true love!
So those are just a couple of ways we can be aware of what’s happening in our relationships without wishing they were different. But how do we enjoy the pleasant without holding onto it, or be with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be that way?
It seems to be quite difficult for us humans to be unattached to what is going on. We are meaning-making machines, and our need to have a healthy ego for interacting with the world causes us to want to identify with things going on around us, and therefore attach to them.
Attaching to the pleasant seems innocuous enough, except that when it changes and is no longer pleasant, we become disappointed. And fearing that the unpleasant will always be that way is an attachment too – we are attaching ourselves to an outcome we don’t prefer.
One of the benefits of remaining unattached to the pleasant or unpleasant is certainly to avoid unnecessary emotional ups and downs. Our world is filled with plenty enough stress, so if we can manage our attachments, we can manage the toll that the stress takes on our systems.
But there is a more important benefit: in staying unattached to whatever is going on, we allow our natural Source energy to flow freely to where it is most needed. Our Source or spiritual energy has the power to heal our bodies, heal our emotions, and heal situations and experiences. And our attachments block the natural flow of that powerful positive energy from bringing us what would be most beneficial moment to moment.
So you can see how powerful the practice of Mindfulness is. It allows love to flow between us, through our relationships, it helps heal whatever may need healing, and brings us a greater Good that we may be needing. What we give attention to is what grows in our lives, and Mindfulness is a way of giving the attention of love to everyone around us.
Before I end, I need to clarify the term “unattachment”. Sometimes I hear clients say, “But I can’t go through life unattached! I am too passionate! I can’t be so cold and distant.” This is a common confusion – there is detachment and there is unattachment.
Detaching from what is happening is an emotional distancing, a self-protection that is a contracting rather than an expanding energy. It is actually a defense mechanism, so there IS a form of attachment to this energy – it’s an attachment to not wanting to be attached!
On the other hand, unattachment is the ability to be fully present, aware, awake, and ready to respond to whatever may be going on in the moment. It is an open energy, allowing things to be as they are, which is an expansive and inclusive energy. That’s a huge difference. I hope that helps clarify the difference between the two.
I’d love to hear what you thought of this article – did it help? Do you have more questions? In what ways do you already practice Mindfulness in your relationships? How does it help you?
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