You + Me = We.

Arguably the most important dimension of our lives, the quality of our relationship with others AND with ourselves has the potential to make or break a day - a week - or even a year.

An idea that might be new to you - we not only have a relationship with others, but we have a relationship with ourselves. It's not only important to realise this, but also understand that the practice of mindfulness and meditation leads to increases in the quality of both of these relationships.

Think of the relationship you have with yourself as the platform for all the other relationships in your life. If this primary relationship is a happy and healthy one you are much more likely to develop happy and healthy relationships with others.

Remember this, it's important.


Photo by amoklv/iStock / Getty Images
 

A study has shown that couples who practice mindfulness experience improved levels of relationship satisfaction.

Results indicated that mindfulness leads to increased levels of autonomy, relatedness, closeness, acceptance of one another, and decreases in relationship distress [11].

Not only did couples report these improvements directly after the study but it was found that they were still benefiting from them 3 months later.

Is that love in the air?


'Self Talk' - what is it?

Mindfulness and mediation have not only shown to strengthen the quality of relationships with others but it has shown to do this with the relationship you have with yourself. This includes how you think and feel about yourself and the quality of 'self talk' you will experience.

Think of self talk as the narrative that is constantly unfolding in your head. This narrative can be positive and encouraging, helping you to be you - fully. On the other hand it can make things difficult, causing you to doubt yourself, disconnect from others and have an all around bad time. Have you recognised this?

With mindfulness and meditation we learn to recognise this self talk (narrative) for what it is - just a bundle of thoughts, and this, is incredibly powerful. Once this happens, we're in a better position to choose the thoughts we give weight to and the ones we don't.


Research has shown that mindfulness is positively associated with expressing oneself in various social situations.

A 2008 study indicated that the practice of mindfulness is associated with increases in empathy, the ability to more accurately describe and identify with feelings, more body satisfaction, less social anxiety, and a tendency to not take on the distress of those around you [12].

Basically, all of the above enables us to develop and maintain strong, positive relationships with those around us.

This is a good thing.

 
Photo by g-stockstudio/iStock / Getty Images

Now we know.

Mindfulness and meditation have been shown to improve the quality of relationships with those around us and meaningful, high quality relationships can sustain and enrich our lives. They can be a source of great happiness and joy and support us when we need it most.

Mindfulness and meditation have been shown to positively influence the relationships you have with those around you. However, when things aren't going well they can be a great source of suffering. When this is the case and there's conflict with a sibling, a parent, a friend, or a girlfriend or boyfriend (maybe even a family pet) it's unsettling right? There's a reason for this - we were born to connect!

Now we know the killer relationship benefits of practicing mindfulness and meditation do yourself a favour and commit to taking up the practice ASAP. You, and those around you, will thank you.


Reference:

1. Goldin, P. & Gross, J. (2010). Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on emotion regulation in social anxiety disorder. Emotion. 10, 1. 83-91.

2. Broyd, S.J., Demanuele, C., Debener, S., Helps, S.K., James, C.J., & Sonuga-Barke, E.J. (2009). Default-mode brain dysfunction in mental disorders: a systematic review. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 33(3), 279-296.

3. Cave, L., Fildes, J., Luckett, G. and Wearring, A. 2015, Mission Australia’s 2015 Youth Survey Report, Mission Australia.

4. Hölzel BK, Carmody J, Evans KC, et al. Stress reduction correlates with structural changes in the amygdala. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 2010;5(1):11-17. doi:10.1093/scan/nsp034.

5. Desbordes, G., Negi, L. T., Pace, T. W., Walace, B. A., Raison, C. L., & Schwartz, E. L. (2012). Effects of mindful-attention and compassion meditation training on amygdala response to emotional stimuli in an ordinary, non-meditative state. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience , 6 (292), 1-15.

6. Baer, R.A. (2003) Mindfulness training as a clinical intervention. A conceptual and empirical review. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice. 10 (2), 125-43

7. Australia Bureau of Statisctics. (2008). National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia

8. Kabat-Zinn, J., Massion, A. O., Kristeller, J., Peterson, L. G., Fletcher, K., Pbert, L., Lenderking, W. & Santorelli, S. (1992). Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry. 149. 936-943

9. Greenberg J, Reiner K, Meiran N (2012) “Mind the Trap”: Mindfulness Practice Reduces Cognitive Rigidity. PLoS ONE 7(5): e36206. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036206

10. Moore, A., & Malinowski, P. (2009). Meditation, mindfulness and cognitive flexibility. Consciousness and Cognition , 18 (1), 176-186.

11. Carson, J., Carson, K., Gil, K. & Baucom, D. (2004). Mindfulness-Based Relationship Enhancement. Behavior Therapy. 35, 3. 471 - 494.

12. Dekeyser, M., Raes, F., Leijssen, M., Leysen, S. & Dewulf, D. (2008). Mindfulness skills and interpersonal behaviour. Personality and Individual Differences. 44, 5. 1235 - 1245.