Improving Relationships Through Body Awareness

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Meditation By: Please log in to see tutor details
Subject: Meditation
Last updated: 28/09/2017
Tags: awareness, improving, mindfulness, relationships, stress

We tend to think of our relationships with others, whether a partner, family, friends or colleagues, as a matter of thinking or deciding how to behave or speaking and acting on that. We see conducting relationships as a product of mental activity. However research and experience demonstrate that our physical state is also extremely important in developing good relationships, and that it is worth taking time and effort to cultivate a positive physical state as well.

Some of this is obvious when we think about it – if we're exhausted or hungry, we're far more likely to snap at someone and say something we then regret, but it goes well beyond this. Very often we can be anxious or irritable without realising it, or taking any responsibility for it, and this can result in a lack of empathy or kindness to those around us. By developing awareness of our bodily state, we can make a real difference to this.

This does not mean becoming super-fit or being able to tuck our ankles around our necks. Everyone, fit or unfit, young or old, disabled or able-bodied, can do this. It means bringing a kindly awareness to how we are at any moment. This technique is based on mindfulness, but you can do it even if you've never done a mindfulness or meditation course.

You need to stop what you're doing or thinking about for about half a minute, take a breath, and ask yourself: "How am I feeling in my body?" Don't go into the story of why you're feeling like that, but just stay with the physical feelings. It could be 'tired' or 'anxious', 'excited' or 'dull', 'in pain' or 'relaxed' etc. Whatever you feel, don't judge yourself or other people for it, but just breathe gently and slowly and let your breath wash over your body with a sense of kindness. Be aware of your feet on the floor and let your stomach, chest, arms, shoulders and neck relax and loosen.

How can this improve relationships? If you're aware of how you're feeling and respond to that with kindness and relaxation, then you will feel less stressed. If you're less stressed you will be less likely to say or do something that will cause problems in your relationships, and more likely to act patiently or generously. You may find out that you're much more tense or tired than you realised, and it might be appropriate to say to someone wanting to have a tricky conversation "I'm feeling really tired/tense right now, could we talk about this tomorrow, please?" Provided you do subsequently make time for the conversation, this could result in a much better outcome.

Being aware of your physical state and consciously bringing kindness and relaxation to it is not self-indulgent; it is a way of training yourself to be in a better state so that you can relate better to those around you. It benefits everyone.

Viryanaya Ellis A-level English Tutor (Worcester)

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I love teaching - either adults or young people, face-to-face or online; I particularly enjoy supporting people individually according to their needs.

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