CONNECTING IS THE HEALTHIEST, most meaningful
thing you can do. The most important thing you need to learn
to really connect is good listening. The most effective thing
you can do to improve your listening is meditate.
When you feel calmer and more content,
it is easier to let down your defenses. You're less likely to
feel critical or disapproving. You feel more affectionate and
loving. It's easier to feel empathy. It's easier to be open.
It is easier to listen well when you feel
relaxed. The more agitated you feel, the more difficult it is
In these and other ways, meditation can
help make close relationships easier to create and more enjoyable.
Think of this as kind of a sliding scale
with feeling upset on one end, and feeling relaxed and at ease
at the other. When you are on the upset end of the scale, you
retract into yourself and your position, ready to defend yourself
or attack others. You isolate yourself. And the more upset you
get, the more isolated and divisive you get. Meditation sends
you to the opposite end of that scale.
Research shows meditation increases your
empathy for others. That means meditation makes it easier for
you to know what another is feeling, and to accept it rather
than wanting it to change. That's really important in a relationship.
It makes things better. It helps you be friends. It makes conflicts
easier to resolve. It makes you happier.
So here's a little bit surprising way to
improve your relationships: Meditate. It is surprising because
it is a solitary pursuit, but it has a lasting effect on your
relationships. You don't just calm down while you're meditating,
the calm lasts, and the lower level of stress hormones continue
after the meditation is over.
This calmness improves your closeness with
others, and that can have a reinforcing effect because when you
feel closer to others, it makes you feel calmer and more relaxed.
So meditation can create a positive spiral with your relaxation
causing improved relations and improved relations causing more
relaxation. All of this is good for your health.