If you were asked How do you nurture your relationships?, would you be able to give a good, concise answer? Maybe not, as talking about relationships is a lot like talking about love. We either tend to stumble looking for for a conceptual framework from which to speak, or we go on an on rambling.
Overwhelmed by the topic myself, a simple truth dawned on me. To borrow and adapt a famous phrase from the respected yogi, Krishnamurti: what you are, your relationships are, and without your transformation, there can be no transformation of the relationship.
In yogic philosophy, the simple truth taught is that if you want to make the world a better place, then you make yourself a better human. This is easily applied to say if you want your relationships to be healthier, then you make yourself healthier—the relationship will follow. Nurturing your “soulmate relationship” can start decades before you meet that special person.
Is this “self-work-comes-first” idea hard for us to grasp? Or perhaps we grasp it, but we just don’t want to have to do the work. It’s seems to be hard work, or intangible and vague work, and it might feel easier to just skate by and hope for the best. But the solution to healing and nurturing your relationships right now is a lot more approachable than you think.
Working on ourselves is less “workshop,” and more simply paying attention to what is going on in our lives. Everything in our lives right now gives us clues as to what to do next. Our emotions are constantly signaling us to act or retreat. Learning to master this awareness and these emotions is a fundamental step, and is done through mindfulness.
Mindfulness activities make us happier. As I have described in greater detail in a previous essay about using mindfulness for healing, these activities are anything that take us fully into this present moment to appreciate that which is around us. Mindfulness plays a key role in supporting us in healthy relationships. As we do our personal work to nurture mindfulness in our own lives, we find ourselves naturally happier, healthier people. This is a good soil for healthy, happy relationships to take root.
We can take comfort in our personal development and know that it’s a perfect circle back to the most important external relationships in our lives. When we bring our mindfulness to our lives, our lives bloom like flowers. When our lives flourish, our relationships tend to flourish as well. If you can communicate well to yourself as to what your needs are, you find it easier to communicate your needs in any relationship, for example. The work is systemic.
If we decide to nurture ourselves through mindfulness, we could take up doing any number of simple things to help us. We can take a simple mindfulness walk at each lunch hour, or take ourselves on an excursion each week on some simple adventure - anything really, maybe a trip to the library to get a good book, or a visit to a park or a museum. Quality time for just ourselves, a book or a nibble of something, a hot bath on a cold night. We pay attention to what it feels like to be alive. Just spend quality time with yourself and build the most important relationship you have - your life long union with yourself.
We’re all in this alone together. The work we do on ourselves (our aloneness) is vital to the well being of the body of humanity (our togetherness). When asked How do you nurture your relationships?, we can comfortably say By nurturing the relationship I have with myself!