Love Deep and Clear – Reflections on Mindfulness in Relationship

by Dr. Richard Jordan

As Published in Vision Magazine

The word mindfulness shows up more and more these days. What image comes to your mind when you hear the word? Maybe it is an image of someone sitting in meditation. While meditation is a powerful way to work out our mindfulness muscles, we are most called upon to exercise them when relating to other people. It’s easy to be (or feel) enlightened when you are alone. Put gently, relationships are our invitation to see ourselves more deeply and clearly. But often the process is not so gentle. Our primary relationships can be powerful and insistent catalysts that bring us face-to-face again and again with parts of ourselves that we do not otherwise glimpse.

The English poet David Whyte once said, “If you can just say exactly how you are imprisoned, the door swings open.” This is one half of the mindfulness equation. The other half is the attitude you bring, for if you are in judgment, blame, or resistance, you can articulate perfectly one thousand times how you are imprisoned, and you will still be stuck. Thus, the other essential component of mindfulness is an attitude of “allowingness.” This idea points us straight to the Buddhist precepts, but we also find this basic wisdom in other spiritual traditions. The Sufi mystic poet Rumi gave us, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” And Romans Chapter 14 gives us, “There is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.”

So, it is the act of seeing clearly and deeply what we have judged, and allowing, or “holding a space” for what is so, that seems to stretch us and evolve us as human beings and as souls. Relationships deliver to us an abundance of these opportunities. One way of looking at it is that there are at least four beings in every relationship, two adults, and two children. We are more easily aware of the adults who have more or less consciously entered into the relationship, but we are less aware of the inner aspects of ourselves that are wounded, traumatized, or unresolved. These younger parts of ourselves naturally rise up in the presence of a loving relationship; they sense and respond to another spiritual truth, that healing is the application of love to the places inside that are suffering.

When these younger, unresolved parts of ourselves show up in relationship, they are accompanied by anger, sadness, and/or fear, and our partner often becomes upset in return.

Our partner sees us as a grownup behaving badly, and they take it personally. If you really loved me, you wouldn’t treat me this way. A deeper truth is that there is a part of ourselves that we do not yet have fully in our awareness that is showing up to be healed or to seek resolution. Rather than blame or scorn the grownup who is behaving badly, we might be mindful at a deeper level––that is, be aware of whom we are really relating with in the moment––and hold a non-judgmental space for whatever is happening. It is important to note, however, that this is not to suggest that you are to be a victim. Perhaps you need to hold that space from afar. The question is: Where do I need to stand that honors me?

Mindful relationships invite us to be guided by certain questions. What file is being accessed? That is, am I being my wise, mature, adult self, or is some other part of me showing up? What aspect of my beloved is now present? What is the most loving way I am to be in this moment, with my beloved, and with myself?

Although we attempt to relate to one another as two adults, we end up accessing information from many different files, often unconsciously, including cultural or societal, erotic, romantic, family history, personality aspects, et cetera. The mindfulness process can be seen broadly as two steps. In the first, we learn to see more deeply and clearly which files are being accessed in any given moment or situation. Once we have a clear view of all these puzzle pieces, they seem to fall into place, and sometimes quite elegantly, naturally, and effortlessly. This is when we get to enjoy the abundant joy, grace, and ease of a love deep and clear.

About Dr. Jordan, San Diego Couples Therapist

Dr. Richard Jordan is a licensed Psychologist in San Diego who offers marriage counseling, relationship advice, psychotherapy and relationship healing. His approach is eclectic and spiritual, honoring all peace-loving spiritual beliefs and denominations. For more information, please check, contact or call 619-349-3281 for a free initial phone consultation.