In recent years, meditation has become a very familiar buzzword in our popular culture.
You might have read about certain celebrities touting their meditation practice for calming their anxieties or for improving relationships. So, what exactly is meditation and how does it help in strengthening a marriage?
Meditation is derived from the Latin word Meditatum meaning to ponder’.
There has been some form of meditative practice in almost all spiritual traditions across the world, with the aim of transforming the individual’s mind to attain peace and harmony within. This peace and inner tranquillity are then able to expand to peace with our partners, children, extended family and beyond.
In the past couple of decades, there have been a host of scientific studies conducted that have highlighted the various biochemical and physical changes that occur in the body as a result of a systematic meditation practice.
These changes affect the rate of metabolism, heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and brain chemistry. The practice and goal of meditation are to consciously train the mind to focus its attention on the present, and this mindfulness practice of attention training has an impact on the body as well.
The training of the monkey mind
The Buddhists call this the training of the ‘monkey mind since most of us have been conditioned to allow our minds to wander at will from one disconnected thought to another and creating our own narratives, which then impacts our emotions and behaviours.
When the mind is consciously redirected to the present moment repeatedly, this practice brings a higher degree of self-awareness and strengthens our willpower in day-to-day happenings with people and situations.
There are various kinds of meditation practices
It is helpful to select a practice that is in alignment with one’s own proclivities and tendencies.
In general, there are three main broad meditation categories:
This technique involves concentrating on a spiritual word or mantra as the central focus, and with the aim of bringing the mind back to that mantra when it tends to wander or lose attention.
Transcendental Meditation (TM) and Passage Meditation are examples of concentration meditation and have shown tremendous impact in rewiring our brains and helping it get rid of maladaptive behaviors.
This is a process of transformation through self-observation, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the breath or another particular physical sensation that continuously conditions the mind.
It is an observation based self-exploratory journey to dissolve mental agitations.
This technique could be described as a blend of concentration and contemplation meditation. This is a process of focusing your attention to particular guided words from a teacher or an audio recording, with the aim of focusing attention on the words, breath, visual imagery and slowing down the mind.
Benefits of Meditation in Relationships
By practising the above-mentioned practices on a regular basis, what we are essentially training to do is to slow down the reactive nature of our minds.
Instead of being reactive to our partners, we learn to be more reflective and respond from a place of calmness.
It also helps us regulate our emotions and be in control of the biological responses to stress and anxieties.
Instead of the body and mind going into the fight-flight-freeze mechanism, with a mind trained in meditation, you are able to stay present and activate the prefrontal cortex of our brains, which is the place from where we make rational, logical decisions.
Couples who meditate can learn to connect with their own emotional triggers, understand their anxieties and needs.
They also develop a choice of dis-identifying with the waves in their minds and create a sense of detached observation as a witness of their thought process. This detachment helps in being able to tap into their own innate wisdom to solve their marital conflicts effectively.
When the mind is calm and serene, the wisdom rises to the top and results in insightful solutions and a more intimate connection between partners.