We all know about mindfulness, but how can we apply the practice to our everyday lives – specifically, our interpersonal relationships? We speak to Brian Henderson and Genavieve Heng of Whole Business Wellness to learn more about relational mindfulness, and how we can use mindfulness techniques to improve how we relate to and communicate with others, from colleagues to partners.
Can you tell us more about the concept of “relational mindfulness?”
Gen: Mindfulness is the practice of being aware in the present moment, thinking and acting with non-judgement and kindness. It’s a life skill we all have and can cultivate. Relational mindfulness is how we bring mindfulness to our relationships and communication. When practiced every day, our relationships – whether romantic, platonic or professional – can become an opportunity for growth, wisdom, care and deep connection.
How can it help in our personal and professional relationships?
Brian: We spend most of our lives with others, be it our family, friends or colleagues. By bringing mindfulness to my relationships and interactions, I’ve learnt, for example, that when I listen without judgement to myself, I can befriend my inner critic as well as my inner champion. Then I am able to listen more deeply and offer greater empathy, presence, compassion and support to others. This strengthens my family and social relationships and enhances my ability to listen, lead and support our team at work.
Gen: Relational mindfulness takes our mindfulness practice “off the cushion.” It helps us become mindful in social interactions, allowing us to better understand ourselves and others. It builds a greater sense of connection, care, openness, shared humanity and wellbeing.
Brian: At work, our performance and job satisfaction depends on our mental clarity and emotional intelligence. Mindfulness in one-on-one interactions or team meetings enhances our ability to regulate our attention, focus and emotional energy. Presence and awareness enable us to respond better to others in different situations.
Gen: In our personal lives, we can learn to be less reactive, and to change our patterns of engagement with certain people. It helps us to notice what is happening in relational spaces and deepen rather than weaken connection.
What are some actionable tips for bringing relational mindfulness into our interactions?
Gen: Pause often. To short-circuit ingrained habits, pause and check in with yourself. Ask yourself how you’re feeling. Perform a mental exercise: Can I feel my body, my hands, my feet, my seat? Using the body is a great way to ground ourselves in the present moment, in what’s really going on as we interact with others. All of this takes a lot of practice, patience and self-compassion. A supportive practice partner really helps!
Brian: Try taking a deep breath before replying to “annoying” emails or WhatsApp messages. Relationships are the essence of being; make the most of each moment!