As we approach Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fun to explore how mindfulness is an expression of love in relationships. Going beyond the Hallmark cards, roses, and chocolates bombarding us in every store and all over social media, the underlying message is the question of how we can show our loved ones we truly care for them. It seems that everyone is searching for a meaningful connection with someone else in this lonely world. Whether it’s a couple that is longing for more emotional or physical intimacy, a single woman terrified of being alone, or a child looking to his parents for reassurance that he’s good enough, they all appear to be searching for the same things: To be seen, heard, and cared about, just as they are.
I believe that practicing mindfulness provides a clear channel for connecting with other people in this way. Mindfulness is essentially the act of being compassionately present, awake, and aware of the here-and-now moment. When someone in our lives listens intently to what we have to say, and sees us for who we are without their own agenda clouding their vision, we tend to feel pretty special, accepted, and loved, just as we are.
Mindfulness takes us out of our heads and gives us the space to be listen and experience others in a profound way. It frees us from the need to be right at all costs, or the vicious cycle of criticism and defensiveness that often arise out of the incessant fear of not feeling understood or cared about. It gives us space to clearly see the other person’s perspective while staying true to ourselves.
It seems that when people are able to create space within themselves to gently hold their fears, insecurities, and vulnerabilities of being human, they are more emotionally available to give and receive love. Communication suddenly becomes an open, curious conversation, where it may have previously been a shouting match in which both people felt dismissed, unimportant, and unloved. Mindfulness opens the door to joining the people you care about by recognizing you’re on the same team, in spite of your differences. It is impossible to be mindful and criticizing at the same time. Or remain non-judgmentally present while spewing words of contempt or defending yourself against them.
I wonder what might happen in your life and your relationships, if you practiced being fully, non-judgmentally present with your loved ones. This means stopping everything to listen to your husband, wife, child, mom, clients, etc. without checking your phone or forming a response in your head. To be present in this way is to express the highest level of love for another human being. It’s truly giving the gift of seeing, hearing, and caring about the person in front of you, which in turn opens you up for authentic connection.
Written by Stephanie Trueblood, LPC-Intern
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