We know meditation can help us in numerous ways such as to manifest inner peace, increase self-awareness, become more grounded, calmer, present, conscious, inspired, rejuvenated, spiritual, fulfilled and balanced. Phew!
As if that wasn’t enough, the effects can be magnified and increased by meditating with a loved one.
Just a few months ago researchers in Germany came to a groundbreaking conclusion after conducting a study: meditating in twos may help us feel closer and more open with one another.
The study in the Max Plank Institute saw participants partake in practicing ‘dyadic meditation’, i.e., they meditated in twos, as part of their ReSource Project—a longitudinal study looking at the impacts of different meditation practices on mental health and social skills.
Couples said they felt increased closeness towards one another and found themselves become more willing to share personal information, indicating increased trust and bonding. Sounds good to us.
Jody Shield, who is meditation ambassador for Lululemon, says you get an extra sense of support when meditating with your other half – in more ways than one.
She says the best way to try meditating in twos is to sit back-to-back to support each other: ‘When meditating, we usually have to wiggle quite a bit to find the right posture and comfortable position. By adopting this position, you’ll feel physically and in turn mentally supported by each other too.’
Another top tip is to try breathing in sync: ‘Breathing is very relaxing, and breathing in tandem with another person feels very calming. Try this at the same time, placing one hand on your heart centre and breathing in two slow counts, and out two slow counts.’
Rory James MacLaren-Jackson, clinical hypnotherapist and author of 7-Day Mindfulness [www.unlockingchange.com] says: ‘Just by setting aside a few minutes every so often, meditation and quiet relaxation can be a fantastic tool in reconnecting with your partner and in turn strengthening your relationship and trust in each other.’
Rory says the first step is to choose the right time: ‘Pick a time when you’re both feeling relaxed – perhaps once the kids are in bed and you’re unlikely to be interrupted. Make sure you’re not squeezing it in between other activities – no clock watching!
‘If you’re new to meditation, it’s unrealistic to think that you’ll be able to begin meditating for an hour or two at a time. Start with maybe 10-15 minutes and work your way up. Switch off your TV, mobile phone and any other distractions that might get in the way. If silence is deafening rather than therapeutic for you both, you may want to put some quiet music on in the background.’
It’s not uncommon to get the giggles when you start afresh – but this is totally normal. Rory says: ‘Laughing is a great stress reliever and meditation should be an enjoyable experience after all. There are no hard and fast rules on how to meditate, but the key is to be quiet, relaxed and to connect.
Whether you meditate together or alone, make sure you’re in comfortable. Rory recommends wearing loose-fitting clothing ‘so you don’t feel restricted. Consider the temperature of the room – is it too hot or too cold?’
When you’re ready to start, sit down together on the floor cross-legged and back to back. ‘Again, make sure you’re both comfortable – you may wish to sit on a cushion or rug.’
Put your hands palms up on your legs and join the index finger and thumb of both hands together lightly. Ensure to keep your spine straight so that your ‘chakras’, i.e. the energies that run from your tail bone to the crown of your head, are aligned.
To meditate, try to minimise thoughts of day to day worries. Rory says: ‘We carry a lot of mental stress, both conscious and subconscious. Let it go, let it flow out of you.’
As you exhale, release your thoughts and witness them as cloud passing by a clear sky.
Try to retain some awareness of your body and release tensions with intention. Rory says: ‘It’s likely your shoulders, and even your jaw, are tense. Physically make your shoulders drop and your jaw unclench. Muscle tension is an indicator of stress levels in the body. Relax your muscles and your body.
‘Feel your clothes next to your skin, the feeling of your heart beating and the sound of your breathing. Listen to your partner’s breathing and feel their hands in yours. It’s all about being in the present and enjoying just co-existing with each other.
Whilst you are meditating, allow yourself to feel grateful for what you have, including your partner and the happiness and support they bring.
When you’re both ready to finish, discuss how you both felt and try to set a time to meditate together again. After all, practice makes perfect.’
Meditating together can not only help strengthen your relationship with your other half but with friends and family members too… even colleagues!
Results from the Max Plank study showed that those participating in the partner exercises increased feelings of closeness and increased their willingness to self-disclose with partners over time—even though the partners changed each week. This suggests that dyadic meditation helps strengthen social relationships, in general, and not just to a specific partner.
When you meditate together you’ll not only connect on a deeper level but you’ll feel relaxed and regulated at the same time, more in tune and on the same level.