How Meditation Can Help Communication in Your Relationship
The meditation concept can be intimidating. People often associate the practice with completely clearing the mind – we’ll get to that later – but mindfulness practice is actually about quieting the mind, observing thoughts and being present.
What is meditation ?
Meditation is a mental exercise in which someone uses techniques like mindfulness to focus the mind, train attention, increase awareness, and achieve mental clarity and calm.
“Meditation gives you a lot more space to think,” says Toby Maguire, wellness manager at luxury resort Amanyara in Turks & Caicos. “When your mind is calm, you suddenly realize that a lot of the things we’re worrying about are completely unnecessary.” He explains that being present is extremely useful not only for the mental health of individuals, but also for the strength of long-term partnerships.
Meet the expert
Toby Maguire is the Resident Wellness Manager at Amanyara, a luxury resort in Turks & Caicos. Maguire has over a decade of experience in professional stress management, breath work, meditation, and Chinese medicine.
Below, Maguire explains steps couples can take to improve communication and navigate arguments effectively — and how the practice of meditation fits in.
Understand how to find mental clarity
First step to understanding how meditation can help a partnership? Understand what it is and understand what it isn’t. One of the biggest misconceptions about meditation, according to Maguire, is that people tend to think it means you have to “clear your mind.” But that’s not really the case. He explains that most people think meditation forces you to stop your mind from thinking, a concept that can lead to a lot of frustration. “You can’t stop your mind from thinking,” he says. “[Meditation] is just to quiet the mind and observe your thoughts.”
learn to listen
One thing Maguire teaches in her wellness classes is how to win an argument. But it may not mean what you think it means. “If you argue or have a clash, what happens is egos get involved,” Maguire says. “It becomes ‘I’m right, you’re wrong.’ When someone is angry they think “defend, defend, defend” and they can’t think rationally because the blood is going to another part of the brain so when you are calm you start thinking with your earlobe front end and you can listen.” This-listen– is the key to victory. “You have to work together to solve the problem, but if egos are involved, all you will do is have this conflict and the problem will not be solved.” Once couples can put their egos aside and really listen to each other, arguments will feel a lot more like conversations.
Calm down before communicating
“If you are have an argument with someone, the first thing to do is to calm them down. Otherwise, no matter what you say, it will ricochet back to you,” says Maguire. “Listen to them, let them scream, let them out of their system. Then, and only then, can you communicate calmly and rationally. Of course, that’s easier said than done, and many couples know the feeling of escalation during an argument. But using the practice of meditation as a tool to quiet the mind and learn to listen will also help practice patience. .
Leave your baggage in the past
When people bring baggage from the past to the present, arguments will almost always escalate and become more hostile. “Bringing all the stories into the argument won’t solve [anything]”, says Maguire. “It only makes the problem worse.” And it can lead to grudges and contempt.
He explains that when couples begin to meditate (both individually and together) they are calmer, they can be more rational, and rather than losing their temper and reacting, they will find the space between looking at the ’emotion arise and notice that they’ I feel angry. Once you are aware of these feelings, you can think before react.
lead by example
It’s entirely possible that within a relationship, one partner feels willing to learn these tools around meditation and mental calm, while the other partner doesn’t want to do this kind of work. “You can’t push people or force them to do anything,” Maguire says. When you pressure someone to do something, they are more likely to resist. “I always tell people to lead by example.” This may take patience (which meditation will help!), but over time, as the more resilient partner notices the other partner remaining calm and attentive, that first partner will follow. “When they can see that result, that’s when they’re more likely to be interested in it.”