Home Archive Prev Next

2 Important Ways You Can Strengthen Your Relationship

Neon sign BreathePHIL: It was New Year’s Eve when Maude mentioned the idea of a short phrase to carry throughout the year. Instantly, the word BREATHE appeared before me, almost as if lit by light-bulbs like an old roadside sign.

I think I know why it came to me. I had recently read an article about breathing, followed by one listing the many benefits of meditation. I used to meditate most mornings, but that has been disrupted for months by a vacation, our presentation and health problems.

I meditate by ignoring thoughts and watching the breath. It focuses attention on the body, on the senses, on being present. For me, meditation is a way of connecting to my center. It’s easy to lose that in the flood of life’s events, but meditating daily pulls me back again and again to the quietness, and by repetition, it seeps into everyday life.

Breathing is a very interesting process. It is something we do automatically but it can be under our conscious control. It is as close to a measure of being alive as anything. Every breath is an exchange with the universe – carbon dioxide is traded for oxygen.

Reminding myself regularly to breathe is a way of coming back to the present, and that’s what Maude’s choice is, too. Remember what we said last week: a relationship only exists in the present.

MAUDE: We, like so many others at this time of year, like to pick a theme and sometimes a question to think of and to put into our daily practice throughout the year.

I was gripped by a strong resonance with the theme of Presence, being present, and the questions, “What interferes with me being present?” and “How can I be more present this year?”

You know how it is with cars? You find out what a Tesla looks like (I did, courtesy of my granddaughter) and all of a sudden you see them everywhere! Well, that’s what has been happening with me and thoughts about Presence. I keep encountering quotes and videos on the theme, and people talking about it (including us in last week’s blog), and my mind keeps circling back to this theme and the questions mentioned above.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Maya Angelou that popped up this week as I was thinking about being present:

“If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing you can do is be present in the present… gratefully.”

I am increasingly aware of how the way that Phil and I live together, and the peace that has become woven into the fabric of our relationship promotes being present with what is. The path to mutuality of solutions and living peacefully as we describe and advocate it creates a relationship where each of us knows we will not be attacked and we therefore have no need for defensive postures. This, in turn, allows sharing of feelings and thoughts without worry or hesitation. It leads to experiencing things as they are happening and not pulling them from the past or projecting them into the future.

Our kind of peaceful living is not only about lack of conflict and struggles between us, but is also about the fertile soil it creates for growth, through nurturing and positive support. This kind of constancy is an invisible highway to Presence. Being heard and seen in this way eases the spirit and promotes trust and lack of fear. Love is being present. As Thich Nhat Hanh said “When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there?”

This year, I will be looking at being present even more in all my relationships, my community and my interactions at large. I will be looking at what blocks me and pulls me away from this simple, natural way of being.

We know that many of you have also picked a theme or a question to contemplate and work at this year. Please use the comments section here to share with us and our readers. Let’s inspire each other and our community!

Photo by Fabian Møller on Unsplash

We would love to hear your inspirations for the new year. Click here and leave them on the blog directly.
 Headphone iconClick here to listen to Phil reading this blog.

Successful Relationship Reading Corner

BookshelfIn our blog this week, we wrote about two important ways you can strengthen your relationship -- breathing and presence. We've found some great articles on these topics.

Conscious Breathing: A Simple Way to Work Through Emotional Pain and Be Present in Your Life "I never gave much thought to my breath unless I was submerged under water for long periods without any. Today I rely on it for more than the obvious function of keeping me alive. Breathing has become my biggest tool and best friend. It has become a foundation for living with conscious presence and awareness."

Being present in relationship – Why does it matter so much? "What does presence mean in a relationship, and why does it matter so much? I will sometimes hear a client lament that their partner does not feel “present” in the relationship. This feeling of lack, so acutely felt by one person, can be a complete mystery to their partner. I’ll have someone tell me in session, 'My partner says I’m not present in our relationship… I have no idea what they mean.' Here’s the short answer..."

9 Practical Ways To Be More Present In Your Life "I once worked with a man (who I will call Tom) who lived in San Francisco. Tom would wake up in the morning to his ringing iPhone alarm, roll over, and immediately check his text messages, his Instagram, and then his two email accounts (in that order).... Tom hired me to help him get to the bottom of his increasingly painful and challenging situation. For some unknown reason, he had a perpetually twitching left eye, chronic tension headaches, and had a panic attack anywhere from 1-5 times on an average week. It didn’t take long to decipher that Tom was suffering from a total lack of engaging in being a human."


Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
Read our blogs at PhilAndMaude.
Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter and Instagram
Email us at philandmaude@philandmaude.com
If you are interested in newsletters you've missed, see our archive.
Do you know anyone who would enjoy this newsletter? Tell them to sign up at http://philandmaude.com/howtwo/.