Source: Photo by Motoki Tonn on Unsplash
Relationships are key to life, we long for and need positive social connections, yet at the same time relationships can be sources of great pain, stress, and even bewilderment. What is the secret to good relationships? How can we keep love alive? How can we sustain affection over time?
Our research and that of our colleagues suggest that meditation may be the key.
How can something you do all by yourself improve your relationships? In many ways: By filling your cup through this profound act of self-care, it ends up overflowing and deeply benefitting those you love the most.
1. Meditation Makes You More Emotionally Intelligent
One of the biggest challenges in a relationship is emotions: jealousy, anxiety, anger, and more. Handling our own emotions is challenging enough, let alone those of our partner. Emotional intelligence is key. Step in meditation. Many neuroscience studies have now shown that meditation improves emotional intelligence: self-awareness, emotion regulation, anxiety and depression, general well-being, even attention, memory, and creativity. Your ability to connect and empathize improves.
Research suggests that meditation is associated with greater overall wisdom. And who doesn’t want a partner who is not just emotionally intelligent but also wise? A person who has good insights, who doesn’t sweat the small stuff, and who knows how to live the good life.
2. Meditation Keeps You Grateful
Research shows us that, over time, we get used to the things we have and the people we are with. You start to take them for granted, a phenomenon called habituation, That’s when people may start to focus on what’s wrong with their partner or forget why they fell in love in the first place, they may even look elsewhere. Research shows, however, that grateful people are more satisfied in their relationships and feel closer to one another. When you are grateful, you stay focused and appreciative of your partner’s good qualities instead of taking them for granted or harping on the little things. Your partner, in turn, feels appreciated and strengthens your bond. A really strong reason to meditate for a good relationship is its impact on your perspective—you become more self-aware, more aware in general of the blessings in your life, and therefore more grateful. And gratitude is a powerful predictor of long-term love.
3. Meditation Boosts Happiness
Negative emotions like stress and anxiety can keep us focused on ourselves. It’s hard to connect with another person when we are in a self-focused state. Neuroscientists have found that people who meditate regularly have more positive emotions overall, which in turn is linked to slower aging at the cellular level. Meditating, though it can seem like a solo activity, actually makes you a more upbeat partner. As I mentioned in my last post, partners who are more positively energizing have better relationships because their very presence is life-giving and supportive.
4. Meditation Curbs Your Stress
Isn’t it ironic that it’s usually the people you love the most who have to bear the brunt of your stress: a short fuse, bad moods, passive aggression. Over time, this kind of pattern can lead to a negative atmosphere in the home and create distance between partners. What we found in our research with a population that has a tremendous amount of stress, veterans returning from war, is that by using a simple breathing-based meditation (Sky Breath Meditation), anxiety and stress are reduced tremendously. If you can take responsibility for curbing your stress by using this kind of simple practice, you will not only curb your own stress but also help preserve your relationships with your loved ones.
5. Meditation Helps You Connect
It’s easy for partners to drift apart, especially if they are busy balancing work and children, have hectic schedules, and have little time to spend together. A chasm can grow almost imperceptibly at first until it becomes painfully obvious. Here again, meditation can help. Connecting to yourself, it turns out, boosts your connection to others in significant ways.
A recent study we ran with Sky Breath Meditation showed that it not only improves well-being but also strengthens your feelings of connection with others. In research we conducted on loving-kindness meditation, we found that it can help people feel more connected and empathic in minutes. Using this simple meditation, you can train yourself to feel more connected, compassionate, and loving, in turn becoming a better lover.
Self-care is far from selfish, especially when it comes to meditation. The time you take to settle your mind not only improves your well-being but that of everyone around you, strengthening your relationships.