Can Meditation Help Your Relationship?

Meditation and RelationshipsIt is no secret relationships take a lot of work: communication, dedication, trust, and friendship. Successfully navigating these waters also centers around personal mindfulness, that is the act of staying active and present in a situation. Mindfulness allows you to observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance without inherent judgment on the situation.

Mindfulness meditation is an excellent step towards improving a relationship. When you are clear within yourself, becoming clear in a relationship is easier and more accessible.

Meditation dials down stress.

The most widely known benefit of meditation is stress reduction. Your body and brain, under great stress, falls into a constant state of fight or flight. Meditation allows you to slow down, evaluate your sense and presence of self, and relax your body. The stress reducing effects of meditation have been known to last several hours following a meditation session, leaving you more relaxed and in control of your body.

The impact of your more relaxed state will have an immediate effect on your relationship. When stressed, little things become big problems. Running late, not putting up the dishes, forgetting to return the latest Redbox movie, all of these things can become points of frustration when we are stressed. In a more relaxed state, we are able to better go with the flow and acknowledge that our partners are fallible human beings instead of the perfect person we inadvertently demand they be.

We are able to better communicate and empathize with one another, leading to effective conversations about issues in the relationship or solving misgivings that have occurred.

Meditation helps us understand our feelings.

Research on mindfulness meditation has shown there is an increase in the activation and size of our middle prefrontal cortex, or the mPFC. Neuroscientists believe the mPFC integrates our higher “intellectual” brain areas with our emotional areas. A well-formed mPFC better connects our intellectual being with our emotional being, resulting in a better understanding and control of our emotions.

Being tuned into our emotions, but not controlled by them, allows us to give a calm, rational response to incidents in our relationships. This brings about less misunderstandings and subsequent arguments. We remain in the present and can process what our partner is trying to tell us without letting our defenses flare up. When we enter a conversation from a place of defensiveness, our ability to listen and comprehend what our partner is trying to say diminishes. Our goal becomes to defend ourselves, not work together. Mindfulness meditation helps eliminate this kind of conversation for a healthier relationship.

Having this control over our emotional state also helps us better understand our own emotions and what is causing them. Often, we know we feel a certain emotion like anger or sadness, but cannot properly articulate why we feel this way. Why did we react the way we did to a certain situation with our partner? Mindfulness meditation, along with honing our mPFC, allows us to better understand what we are feeling, why we are feeling this way, and shows us a clear path to correcting feelings of hurt. We can speak to our partner rationally, with an in-depth knowledge of our inner self, and work together to correct any misgivings.

The professionals at the Keith Miller Counseling Center can help you take the steps towards a healthier mind and relationship with mindfulness meditation. Call us today!

Take Psychotherapy to the Next Level with Guided Meditation

Washington DC CounselingMeditation is an excellent way to achieve a state of mental calm and clarity. Numerous scientific studies have shown performing 20 minutes of meditation daily provide countless health and mental benefits. These benefits include: a decrease in depression and anxiety, an increase in disease immunity, and a huge jump in the ability to focus. Meditation creates what is known as a “super mind”, with better memory retention, creative thinking skills, decision making, and information processing. You gain a new control over your life and your mental and emotional states.

However, meditation can be difficult, especially for those suffering from anxiety or depression. The ability to channel your mind is a learned tool and can be overwhelming to start. How can you achieve these amazing benefits when you can’t silence your mind?

A Powerful Psychotherapy

Enter guided meditation, a powerful psychotherapy tool intended to aid in transitioning from hopelessness to empowerment.

Guided meditation is an excellent tool to guide you through the act of meditating without the stress and distraction of attempting to shut your mind off alone. A trained professional leads you through the process gently and confidently, helping keep you on track to achieve mental and emotional clarity and focus. Some techniques utilize written text or video, while others, particularly with counseling professionals, are done by verbal instruction. Music therapy may also be provided as stimuli for relaxation.

Why Use Guided Meditations?

Guided meditations are useful for unlocking emotions and feelings often trapped within. Your trusted professional takes you on a deep journey through your subconscious, where you will be more open to positive suggestions and life changes. The wall blocking you from achieving change is eliminated; despite your brain’s insistence it cannot be done.

What to Expect from Psychotherapy with Guided Meditations

Guided meditation begins with a series of relaxing visualizations. You are instructed on how to breathe, how to channel energy, and how to slowly uncoil the barriers between your conscious and subconscious mind. As you become more relaxed and still, the journey into the deep recesses of your brain begins, accessing your body’s natural relaxation response. Positive energy and thoughts are transferred to your subconscious, focusing on your inner strength. Everyone is equipped with the power to make change within themselves, it’s just a matter of honing those skills and retraining the brain to remember the positive, rather than the negative.

Each session can be individually tailored for the change or exploration needed. Importantly, previous knowledge of meditation is not necessary—you will be literally guided through the process to reach optimal benefits, even if you unable turn off your mind alone. With enough practice, these positive guided meditation sessions will become part of your everyday life. You will feel more confident, more capable, and stronger than before.

Meditate & Be Mindful: It’s Good for Your Health

In the 1940’s, if you told someone you were going running, they probably would have asked, “Who’s chasing you?”

Know what happened next? The scientists charged in, validated the benefits of exercise, and now we all do it – and if we don’t, we feel guilty about it.

Right now, meditation is at the point where exercise was a few decades ago. It is, as Time Magazine put it, a revolution in health and mental health. As a result of the new science, meditation is now being shown as effective at performance enhancement for such elite organizations ranging from Google, to NBA teams, and the US Marines.

The practice of mindfulness is one that is growing ever more widely talked about. The world is moving faster; stress levels are higher; and more and more people are coming to understand the benefits of meditation and mindfulness.

But what are those benefits exactly?

The practice—it is, in fact, something that one must practice—of mindfulness has been proven scientifically to improve the physical and mental well-being of all who take the time to stop, breathe, and meditate.

Mindfulness can diminish the severity of pain.

So much of how we perceive pain is mental; truly, some of it really is all in your head, and meditation can help. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience revealed that pain perception is cut nearly in half when the sufferer turned to mindfulness.

Mindfulness lowers stress.

Not only can the practice of mindfulness make us feel more relaxed and calm in the midst of a stressful situation, science has shown that it’s linked with markedly decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Mindful meditation makes us feel less stressed, because it changes the chemistry of your body.

Mindfulness increases our ability to feel empathy.

One study conducted at Northeastern University College of Science found even a brief period of mindfulness improved participants’ levels of compassion by as much as 50 percent; likewise, a different study published in the journal PLOS ONE, the practice of meditation showed more brain activity in regions linked with empathy while meditating than when not meditating.

Mindfulness can make us healthier.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Health found that people who engage in mindful meditation miss fewer days of work related to respiratory issues. When they do fall ill, those with mindfulness practice experience shortened and less severe symptoms.

Mindfulness is beneficial, even when you’re not in active practice.

Your brain’s emotional processing center, the amygdala, is “exercised” every time you meditate. The result is that your brain’s distress tolerance threshold (your “window of tolerance) is expanded, even when you’re not meditating. If you’re stressed or anxious mediation expands your emotional window of tolerance as much or more than anti-anxiety medication.

Mindfulness counseling

Keith Miller specializes in mindfulness-based psychotherapy for anxiety and stress.

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