Mindfulness of feelings is one of the four foundations of mindfulness in Buddhist Psychology. Mindfulness is essential for healthy relationships. Read on to know why.
Being human means having a longing to connect with others. Intimacy is the felt sense of connection with another person. The important question is this: What does it take to experience warm, safe, and fulfilling connections in our lives?
Some people are attracted to each other based upon an image that’s being projected, such as being “successful,” beautiful, or interesting. But this superficial attraction doesn’t offer the intimacy we desire. Such attractions are short-lived at best. They are destined to curdle into distance and dissatisfaction when people inevitably discover who we really are, including the secret fears, hurts, and challenges we conceal. If we’re not moving toward a rich and alive intimacy based upon a deeper sharing of our innermost lives, we might become rather boring to others–and bored with ourselves.
Rather than strive to be someone who we think people will like, we need to discover what it means to be ourselves. A path toward genuine intimacy begins by allowing ourselves to be seen as we really are. Staying connected to the energy of our own being—resting comfortably in ourselves–creates a foundation for people to come toward us.
Intimacy happens as we show who we really are. Showing who we require knowing who we are. This means pausing, looking inside, and being connected to the ever-changing inner world of our feelings and preferences.
We can’t expect others to feel drawn toward us if we’re not willing to take the risk to be vulnerable and reveal the ever-changing textures of our inner world.
Being Mindful Of Our Feelings
We often run on automatic pilot—not slowing down enough to look inside and discover what we’re really feeling. As we’re getting to know someone as a potential friend or partner—or perhaps even with our partner or good friend, we might be afraid to share feelings that might be uncomfortable or threatening. We might be afraid of rejection or being seen as weak or pitiful. Yet if we want close, trusting relationships, we need to know and show what’s going on inside us.
Mindfulness-based practices have become popular these days—and for good reason. Yet teachers of mindfulness and meditation often miss something important—being mindful of our life of feelings. “Spiritual bypassing” is a term that has gained popularity, which refers to a tendency to strive for spiritual growth in a way that circumvents our authentic, though oftentimes uncomfortable, feelings and needs.
Mindfulness is limited if it doesn’t include bringing awareness to our inner life of feelings, such as sadness, hurt, shame, anger, fear, or delight. Mindfulness can be applied to our primary, authentic desires, such as when we need a hug or need to talk. It’s important to know when we feel hurt by a partner’s or friend’s comment so that we don’t allow the relationship to decay due to neglect, false pride, or fear.
Feelings and desires are the way life speaks to us. Sharing our feelings and needs is an essential way to know each other more intimately. If we keep our emotions and wants hidden, we don’t give people a chance to know us and feel closer to us. We can’t expect intimacy to blossom if we’re not willing to allow ourselves to be seen as we are, which sometimes means allowing ourselves to be vulnerable or a bit awkward.
This isn’t to suggest that we recklessly express every feeling we notice, regardless of the consequences or a person’s capacity to hear us. We need boundaries and a felt sense of when it feels relatively safe and “right” to share our precious feelings with another person.