There are many ways couples can support each other in meditation practice, whether you meditate together, separately, or one of you doesn’t meditate at all. It can be as simple as allowing your partner quiet time alone for their meditation practice each day. You can read a meditation book or take a course together, sit on side-by-side on your cushions, or listen to a guided meditation.
There is no perfect meditation practice a relationship. What we do know is that the mental health and wellness of both individuals in a couple greatly influences the health of their relationship, and that these benefits have been repeatedly proven through scientific research on the benefits of meditation. So, consider it a success when one or both partners find their way onto the cushion in lotus position (or in a chair), meditating with the support of their partner.
Below, we offer a few couples meditation practices that can be done together or separately to help strengthen your relationship.
Where to begin in couples meditation?
For meditation beginners, mindfulness meditation is a great place to start. Mindfulness meditation promotes a calm mind and self-awareness that enhances the depth of any other meditation practice.
Or maybe you and your loved one could benefit from a sleep meditation to promote deep sleep? Well-rested minds are more likely to be happy minds, and happy minds lead to happy relationships.
That said, there are certain meditations that lend themselves particularly well to the circumstances of a romantic relationship.
3 Guided Meditations for Couples
What all the meditations below have in common is that each offers a way to break down the barrier between “self” and others. In Buddhism, the delusion that there is a “self” that is separate from everyone and everything else is said to be the root of our suffering. Through seeing the deep interconnectedness of our world and of all beings, we naturally become kinder, more compassionate, more loving, and awaken to a greater awareness of what’s most important to us.
In relationships, we sometimes find ourselves in places of blame, judgment, and resentment. These are unwholesome states of mind driven by our deluded obsession with I, me, and mine. When this happens, your partner can turn into a mirror onto whom you project your own problems and insecurities.
Try out these three guided meditation practices that couples can do together or separately. If you and your partner are comfortable doing so, you may hold hands or look each other in the eyes as you do them.
Just Like Me Meditation
A great meditation to try, with or without a partner, is “Just Like Me” meditation.
The aim of this meditation exercise is to relate to another beyond the veil of judgment and blame; to see our common humanity, our shared struggles, and everything else that connects us.
Everybody’s life consists of vastly different experiences, and it’s important to recognize the unique joys and struggles that come with those experiences. But there are also shared threads that make up the experience of being human.
Is there anybody who does not want to be happy? Is there anybody who has never felt sad? Is there anybody who will not die one day?
By reflecting on these shared threads, we create the conditions for compassion and understanding to arise. It allows us to see ourselves in others and others in ourselves. It helps us see that we are not alone and helps us understand our partner’s perspective. With this understanding, resentment fades. We begin to take slights less personally.
Loving-Kindness Meditation (Metta Meditation)
Loving-kindness meditation offers the opportunity to wish for the well-being of others. When we engage in this practice, we are orienting the mind again and again toward its greatest capacity. It opens up our heart and mind to see and accept our partners and ourselves.
Just as meditation changes the mind, moments of feeling love change the mind too. This is where meditation on the cushion starts to turn into a new way of seeing reality off the cushion, creating more opportunities to feel love for your partner and the other people you encounter in your daily life. Psychologist Barbara Frederickson explains this in her wonderful book Love 2.0:
“A micro-moment of love, like other positive emotions, literally changes your mind. It expands your awareness of your surroundings, even your sense of self. The boundaries between you and not-you — what lies beyond your skin — relax and become more permeable. While infused with love, you see fewer distinctions between you and others. Indeed, your ability to see others — really see them, wholeheartedly — springs open. Love can even give you a palpable sense of oneness and connection, a transcendence that makes you feel part of something far larger than yourself.”
Becoming Loving-Kindness – A Guided Meditation with Elaine Jackson
If you feel your significant other has hurt you or that you have hurt them—something inevitable in a long-term relationship—try a forgiveness meditation. This 12-minute meditation by Jack Kornfield helps us let go of resentment and regret in a way that can bolster any relationship. Like loving-kindness meditation, this healing meditation practice can be done with or without visualization.
When you are with someone for a long time, you can get fixated on their flaws, on mistakes they have made, on their imperfections. A forgiveness meditation is a healthy way to see those “imperfections” as something natural, understandable, even beautiful.
Another way to find forgiveness is through a forgiveness meditation that help you let go of any conflict and pain each day, and also rejoice in what went well.
Accepting our partner with love, forgiveness, and understanding
As the teacher Ram Dass says,
“When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.
The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying ‘You are too this, or I’m too this.’ That judgment mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.”
Try these three meditation practices with your partner and see if you can come to appreciate your partner just the way they are with love, understanding, and compassion.
Final Note: What if my partner does not meditate?
If we’re going to accept our partner, then it should be okay to accept a partner who doesn’t meditate too. A healthy partnership does not bloom from having all the same habits and activities, but rather from mutual trust, understanding, and love for our significant other.
When beginners discover the power of meditation, it is easy to want to push the practice on others, particularly significant others. You can certainly recommend meditating to your partner, but people must decide for themselves whether it is something they want to do.
If your partner sees that your meditation practice gives you a sense of calmness, clarity, and compassion, you will not need to do any convincing about the benefits of meditation.
As the great teacher Thich Nhat Hanh said, “My life is my message.”
Our interview with Susan Piver about her book The Four Noble Truths of Love, goes deeper into many ways meditation and Buddhist-inspired mind training can enhance relationships. You can also find a longer list of meditation exercises to do on our website, by becoming a subscriber to our podcast, or on our YouTube page where you can find full videos. There are many apps such as Headspace, Ten Percent Happier, and Calm where you can get started with meditation today.