Sheena Bounsanga a mindfulness coach. She is the owner of Blue Bamboo holistics (blue-bamboo.ca) and the creator of mindful Kids.
What if the way you communicated with your spouse or significant other directly affected their health and well-being. Are you communicating mindfully?
My husband was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease more than 12 years ago, at the age of 21. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease, which causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract. Although stress doesn’t cause Crohn’s, it does make symptoms worse and may trigger flare-ups.
What does that means for both my husband and I, and our marriage as a whole? Simply put, stress makes my husband very sick — so much so that sometimes he has to visit the hospital. In order to cope with this, we have had to learn different techniques to deal with stress – or, more importanly, learn ways to avoid stress all together.
The most effective technique that we have implemented in our lives is mindful communication. Mindful communication means listening and speaking with compassion, kindness and awareness. In order to engage in effective communication using mindfulness, we have to listen mindfully and speak mindfully. Easy enough, right? Here are some tips to help.
Cultivating mindful listening:
- 1) One focus
Clear your head of any thoughts that are occupying your mind. Clear your hands of any devices that are occupying your fingers. Don’t look at your feet or a spot on the wall. When someone is talking to you, look into their eyes. It shows that you care about them and that they have your full attention.
- 2) Don’t assume
If the person says something that you don’t understand and you need clarification, don’t assume but rather ask them to clarify their statement. Just be sure to come from a place of compassion.
- 1)Pause, breathe and respond
When responding to either a question or comment, don’t just immediately start talking. Pause, breathe and then respond. Be less reactive and more responsive. It’s amazing what this one little technique can do!
- 2) Be honest
The best thing you can do for yourself is to be yourself. That means speaking your truth. This doesn’t mean that you have to be mean or rude. You can speak your truth with compassion and kindness.
Cultivating a mindful relationship:
- 1) Lose the ego
This isn’t a competition or a battle to be won. This is your significant other and, although you may not see eye to eye right now, ultimately the end goal is the same.
- 2) Be gracious and grateful
Too often we focus on the negative. You love this person — seek out the good in them and in the relationship that you’ve built together. Seek it out, write it down and tell them, over and over again. Gratitude can cultivate some pretty amazing things.
My husband and I have quickly learned about the importance of ‘picking our battles’ — pick the wrong battle and communicate it poorly and you’ll hear his gut grumble from across the room. The physical effects of stress on my husband’s body are immediate and severe. But Crohn’s or not, stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to long-term health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes as well as short term problems such as headaches, insomnia, and indigestion.
So let me ask you again, knowing now that the way you communicate with your spouse or significant other directly affects their health and well-being: are you communicating mindfully?