Reduce Intimate Partner Violence with Mindfulness

Reduce Intimate Partner Violence with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“teaching men mindfulness and emotional intelligence will help them develop self-awareness in moments of emotional trigger . . . and avoid violent reactivity.” – Prison Mindfulness Institute

 

The human tendency to lash out with aggression when threatened was adaptive for the evolution of the species. It helped promote the survival of the individual, the family, and the tribe. In the modern world, however, this trait has become more of a problem than an asset. It results in individual violence and aggression such as physical abuse, fights, road rage, and even murders, and in societal violence such as warfare.

 

These violent and aggressive tendencies can lead to violence directed to intimate partners, including sexual and physical violence. In the U.S. there are over 5 million cases of domestic violence reported annually. Indeed, it has been estimated that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced physical violence and 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced sexual violence from an intimate partner.

 

Obviously, there is a need to find ways to reduce intimate partner violence. Mindfulness training has been shown to reduce aggressionhostility and violence. Hence, mindfulness training may be effective in reducing intimate partner violence. In today’s Research News article “Cognitive behavioural group therapy versus mindfulness-based stress reduction group therapy for intimate partner violence: a randomized controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7169006/), Nesset and colleagues explored therapeutic techniques for perpetrators of intimate partner violence.

 

They recruited adult men who were referred by physicians for treatment for violence against intimate partners. They were randomly assigned to be treated with either 15 2-hour group Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) sessions or 8 2-hour group Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) sessions. CBT explores and attempts to change inaccurate or negative thinking so the patient can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way. The MBSR program consisting on training in meditation, body scan, yoga, and discussions of using mindfulness in everyday life. They were measured at baseline and 3, 6, 9, and 12 months later for violence over the prior 3 months reported by both the patient and the intimate partner, including physical injury, and physical, psychological, and sexual violence.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline both Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) produced large and significant reductions in physical injury, and physical, psychological, and sexual violence over the 12-month follow-up period.

 

It is interesting that two very different therapeutic techniques were equally effective. This raises the possibility that the benefits may have been due to the confounding effects of participant expectancy (placebo) effects, demand characteristics, or experimenter bias effects. But the magnitude in the reductions in violence were striking and lasting. Confounding effects are usually short lived. So, it would seem that both therapies were effective in reducing violence in men with a history of intimate partner violence. Whether they act in different ways or share a common mechanism of action is a subject for future research.

 

So, reduce intimate partner violence with mindfulness.

 

Meditation is one of the most effective ways to calm the mind and clear built up stress from the nervous system.” – Diane Yeo

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Nesset, M. B., Lara-Cabrera, M. L., Bjørngaard, J. H., Whittington, R., & Palmstierna, T. (2020). Cognitive behavioural group therapy versus mindfulness-based stress reduction group therapy for intimate partner violence: a randomized controlled trial. BMC psychiatry, 20(1), 178. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-020-02582-4

 

Abstract

Background

Violence in close relationships is a global public health problem and there is a need to implement therapeutic programs designed to help individuals who voluntarily seek help to reduce recurrent intimate partner violence. The effectiveness of such interventions in this population remains inconclusive. The aim of the present study was to compare the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioural group therapy (CBGT) vs mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) group therapy in reducing violent behavior amongst individuals who are violent in intimate partnerships and who voluntarily seek help.

Methods

One hundred forty four participants were randomized using an internet-based computer system. Nineteen withdrew after randomization and 125 participants were randomly assigned to the intervention condition (CBGT, n = 67) or the comparator condition (MBSR, n = 58). The intervention condition involved two individual sessions followed by 15 cognitive-behavioural group therapy sessions. The comparator condition included one individual session before and after 8 mindfulness-based group sessions. Participants (N = 125) and their relationship partners (n = 56) completed assessments at baseline, and at three, six, nine and twelve months’ follow-up. The pre-defined primary outcome was reported physical, psychological or sexual violence and physical injury as measured by the revised Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS2).

Results

The intent-to-treat analyses were based on 125 male participants (intervention group n = 67; comparator group n = 58). Fifty-six female partners provided collateral information. Baseline risk estimate in the CBGT-group was .85 (.74–.92), and .88 (.76–.94) in the MBSR-group for physical violence. At 12-months’ follow-up a substantial reduction was found in both groups (CBGT: .08 (.03–.18); MBSR: .19 (.11–.32)).

Conclusion

Results provide support for the efficacy of both the cognitive-behavioural group therapy and the mindfulness-based stress reduction group therapy in reducing intimate partner violent behavior in men voluntarily seeking treatment.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7169006/

 

Reduce Dating Violence Due to Perceived Infidelity with Mindfulness

Reduce Dating Violence Due to Perceived Infidelity with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

It takes patience, mindfulness and knowledge of trauma-informed practices to effectively implement lasting and profound changes to victims of domestic and sexual violence.” – Sara Mahoney

 

Dating should be a time for young people to get together, get to know one another and have fun. But all too often, dating involves violence or aggression. Nearly 1.5 million high school students in the U.S. experience physical abuse from a dating partner each year, 33% are victims of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, and 10% have been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt. Dating violence doesn’t just occur in High School as 43% of college women experience violent or abusive dating behaviors. Sadly, only about a third of the victims ever tell anyone about the abuse. Hence it is important to find ways to prevent dating violence. Mindfulness has potential to reduce dating violence.

 

Dating violence is often linked to suspicions regarding the infidelity of the partner and frequently to alcohol intake. It is not known if mindfulness in some way affects the influence of infidelity suspicion on physical assault. In today’s Research News article “Dispositional Mindfulness as a Moderator of the Relationship Between Perceived Partner Infidelity and Women’s Dating Violence Perpetration. Journal of interpersonal violence.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6944186/), Brem and colleagues investigate the moderating influence of mindfulness on the relationship between perceived infidelity and violence perpetration.

 

They recruited college women who were involved in a romantic relationship. They were asked to complete measures of physical assault perpetration, mindfulness, perceived partner infidelity, and alcohol use. The majority of perceived infidelity reported consisted of their partner “checking out” or flirting with another.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness, the lower the levels of alcohol use and physical assault. Additionally, they found that the higher the levels of perceived infidelity the higher the levels of alcohol use and physical assault. They also found, taking alcohol intake into account, that the relationship between perceived infidelity and physical assault was significant for women low in mindfulness but not for women high in mindfulness, suggesting a moderating influence of mindfulness.

 

These results are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. But, it has been demonstrated in previous research that mindfulness produces reductions in violent and aggressive tendencies. So, it is likely that the present findings are due to the causal consequences of mindfulness on violence and aggression. Nevertheless, the results suggest that mindfulness may lower perpetration of physical assault by preventing suspicions regarding infidelity being expressed as physical assault. This in turn suggests that mindfulness training may be useful in reducing violence and aggression in romantic relationships.

 

So, reduce dating violence due to perceived infidelity with mindfulness.

 

Although they are not designed specifically to reduce incidences of domestic violence, programs that teach people mindfulness and meditation have shown some promise in reducing incidences of violence in several settings.” – Michael Kraut

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Brem, M. J., Wolford-Clevenger, C., Zapor, H., Elmquist, J., Shorey, R. C., & Stuart, G. L. (2018). Dispositional Mindfulness as a Moderator of the Relationship Between Perceived Partner Infidelity and Women’s Dating Violence Perpetration. Journal of interpersonal violence, 33(2), 250–267. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260515604415

 

Abstract

Mindfulness gained increased attention as it relates to aggressive behavior, including dating violence. However, no known studies examined how the combined influences of dispositional mindfulness and perceived partner infidelity, a well-documented correlate of dating violence, relate to women’s dating violence perpetration. Using a sample of college women (N = 203), we examined the relationship between perceived partner infidelity and physical dating violence perpetration at varying levels of dispositional mindfulness, controlling for the influence of alcohol use. Results indicated perceived partner infidelity and dating violence perpetration were positively related for women with low and mean dispositional mindfulness, but not for women with high dispositional mindfulness. These results further support the applicability of mindfulness theory in the context of dating violence. Implications of the present findings provide preliminary support for mindfulness intervention in relationships characterized by infidelity concerns.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6944186/

 

Mindfulness Is Associated with Better Marital Quality in Military Couples

Mindfulness Is Associated with Better Marital Quality in Military Couples

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness helps partners to regulate their own responses and more fully accept one another,” the researchers suggest, “resulting in less negative fallout from conflict when it arises.” – Linda Graham

 

Relationships can be difficult as two individuals can and do frequently disagree or misunderstand one another. This is amplified in marriage where the couple interacts daily and frequently have to resolve difficult issues. These conflicts can produce strong emotions and it is important to be able to regulate these emotions in order to keep them from interfering with rational solutions to the conflict. The success of marriage can often depend upon how well the couple handles these conflicts. In fact, it has been asserted that the inability to resolve conflicts underlies the majority of divorces. All this can be amplified with military marriages where one partner may be away on deployment for long periods.

 

Mindfulness may be helpful in navigating marital disputes, as it has been shown to improve the emotion regulation and decrease anger and anxiety. It may be a prerequisite for deep listening and consequently to resolving conflict. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to improve relationships. So, mindfulness may be a key to successful relationships. But little is known about mindfulness and military couples who are under the added stress of deployment.

 

In today’s Research News article “Actor-Partner Associations of Mindfulness and Marital Quality After Military Deployment.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6820699/), Zamir and colleagues recruited heterosexual couples with the male in the military and having been deployed. Both members of the dyad were measured for mindfulness and marital quality.

 

They found that for both men and women the higher the levels of mindfulness the greater the marital quality. In addition, for both men and women the higher the level of mindfulness in one member of the dyad the higher the level of marital quality reported not only by themselves but also by their partner. Hence mindfulness is associated with higher marital quality for both members of a military marriage.

 

These results are correlational and conclusions about causation cannot be reached. But in previous manipulative research studies mindfulness has been shown to improve relationships. Hence, it is reasonable to speculate that mindfulness also produces better relationships in this particular group of military heterosexual couples confronting deployment. One implication of the work is that the military might consider mindfulness training to help couples cope with the stresses of deployment and maintain strong marriages.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with better marital quality in military couples.

 

“Research continues to reveal benefits mindfulness training provides for soldiers both before and after combat. These benefits in some cases have the potential to be life-saving, both from improved situational awareness and stress resilience during battle and from decreasing the intensity and occurrence of posttraumatic stress symptoms, which are often linked to a high rate of veteran suicides.” – GoodTherapy

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Zamir, O., Gewirtz, A. H., & Zhang, N. (2017). Actor-Partner Associations of Mindfulness and Marital Quality After Military Deployment. Family relations, 66(3), 412–424. doi:10.1111/fare.12266

 

Abstract

Objective:

To explore dyadic associations between mindfulness and marital quality and gender differences in these associations—that is, the relation of each dyad member’s mindfulness with his or her own marital quality and with his or her partner’s marital quality.

Background:

Recent studies have demonstrated the benefits of mindfulness for marital quality. However, associations of mindfulness and marital quality within and between partners are still unclear. In addition, despite marital challenges associated with deployment to war, the benefits of mindfulness for marital quality in military couples is yet unknown.

Method:

A sample of 228 military couples following deployment of the male partner to recent conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan completed an online survey measuring mindfulness and marital quality.

Results:

Actor–partner interdependence (APIM) analysis showed that, for both men and women, greater mindfulness was associated with one’s own and one’s partner’s higher marital quality. There were no gender differences in this pattern.

Conclusion:

Mindfulness engenders intra- and interpersonal benefits for the marital system in men and in women following deployment to war.

Implications:

The results emphasize the importance of a dyadic approach when examining the role of mindfulness in marital or family relations, and suggest that interventions designed to facilitate change in marital relationships in the context of deployment may benefit from integrating mindfulness-based training.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6820699/

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Lower Perpetrator Levels of Physical and Sexual Dating Violence

Mindfulness is Associated with Lower Perpetrator Levels of Physical and Sexual Dating Violence

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

perceived partner infidelity and dating violence perpetration were positively related for women with low and mean dispositional mindfulness, but not for women with high dispositional mindfulness.” – Megan Brem

 

Dating should be a time for young people to get together, get to know one another and have fun. But all too often, dating involves violence or aggression. Nearly 1.5 million high school students in the U.S. experience physical abuse from a dating partner each year, 33% are victims of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, and 10% have been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt. Dating violence doesn’t just occur in High School as 43% of college women experience violent or abusive dating behaviors. Sadly, only about a third of the victims ever tell anyone about the abuse. Hence it is important to find ways to prevent dating violence. Mindfulness has potential to reduce dating violence.

 

In today’s Research News article “Understanding the Role of Alcohol, Anxiety, and Trait Mindfulness in the Perpetration of Physical and Sexual Dating Violence in Emerging Adults.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6579748/), Ngo and colleagues recruited emerging adults (aged 18-25) who were seeking treatment at an emergency department for any reason. They completed measures of alcohol use, mindfulness, anxiety, and perpetration of dating violence including sexual dating violence and physical dating violence.

 

They found that in both males and females alcohol consumption and high levels of anxiety were related to higher perpetrator levels of both physical and sexual dating violence. On the other hand, they report that high levels of mindfulness, particularly the acting with awareness and non-judgement facets, was related to lower perpetrator levels of both physical and sexual dating violence.

 

It needs to be kept in mind that this study is correlational and as such no definitive conclusions regarding causation can be reached. But the results suggest that dating violence, both the physical and sexual forms, are lower when mindfulness is present and when anxiety and alcohol are absent. These may be useful leads for potential interventions to reduce dating violence perpetration in emerging adults by training in mindfulness, dealing with anxiety, and reducing alcohol consumption.

 

Dating is very important to emerging adults. But dating violence is a serious problem. Discovering means to reduce the likelihood of engaging in dating violence would be highly desirable. The present results suggest that mindfulness training may be an important tool to reduce these troubling occurrences.

 

Hence, mindfulness is associated with lower perpetrator levels of physical and sexual dating violence.

 

mindfulness interventions have led to improvements across a range of mental health problems, including domains known to be associated with dating violence.” – Ryan Shorey

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Ngo, Q. M., Ramirez, J. I., Stein, S. F., Cunningham, R. M., Chermack, S. T., Singh, V., & Walton, M. A. (2018). Understanding the Role of Alcohol, Anxiety, and Trait Mindfulness in the Perpetration of Physical and Sexual Dating Violence in Emerging Adults. Violence against women, 24(10), 1166–1186. doi:10.1177/1077801218781886

 

Abstract

This study examines alcohol consumption, anxiety, trait mindfulness, and physical and sexual dating violence aggression (PDV and SDV) among 735 emerging adults (18–25 years) in an urban emergency department. Of the total sample, 27.2% perpetrated PDV and 16.5% perpetrated SDV. Alcohol was positively associated with PDV/SDV. Anxiety was positively associated with PDV. Mindfulness was negatively associated with PDV/SDV. Interaction analyses revealed women had lower PDV with higher nonjudgment facet of mindfulness. Higher act aware was associated with lower PDV regardless of high versus low alcohol. Findings indicate different contributing factors among perpetrators of PDV/SDV; some factors may be attenuated by mindfulness.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6579748/

 

High Frequency of Yoga Practice Produces Greater Benefits

High Frequency of Yoga Practice Produces Greater Benefits

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness; increases body awareness; relieves chronic stress patterns; relaxes the mind; centers attention; and sharpens concentration. Body- and self-awareness are particularly beneficial, because they can help with early detection of physical problems and allow for early preventive action.” – Natalie Nevins

 

Yoga practice has been shown to have a myriad of benefits for psychological and physical health, social, and spiritual well-being. It is both an exercise and a mind-body practice that stresses both mental attention to present moment movements, breath control, and flexibility, range of motion, and balance. There has, however, not been much attention paid to the characteristics of practice that are important for producing maximum benefits.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Yoga Asana Practice Approach on Types of Benefits Experienced.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6746050/), Wiese and colleagues emailed a questionnaire to a large sample of yoga practitioners. They were asked for demographic information and to describe their yoga practice and physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and relational benefits of yoga.

 

They found that the higher the frequency of practice the greater the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and relational benefits. Weaker relationships were found between consistency of practice, teaching yoga, and teacher experience and the benefits. In addition, there was a relationship between the frequency of practice without a teacher and self-confidence. Evening practice was found to be a negative predictor of benefits.

 

These findings suggest, as has been previously reported, that yoga practice produces myriad of benefits for psychological and physical health, social, and spiritual well-being. The characteristic of practice that was most highly related to these benefits was how many times per week yoga was practiced, particularly when the practice occurred 5 or more times per week; the more practice, the greater the benefits. Also associated with benefits were consistency of practice, teaching yoga, and teacher experience, while evening practice was associated with less benefit.

 

It should be noted that these results are correlations and caution must be exercised in assigning causation. But the findings are consistent with finding from controlled studies, suggesting that yoga practice produces great benefit.

 

So, practice frequently to obtain the greatest benefits from yoga practice.

 

Multiple studies have confirmed the many mental and physical benefits of yoga. Incorporating it into your routine can help enhance your health, increase strength and flexibility and reduce symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety. Finding the time to practice yoga just a few times per week may be enough to make a noticeable difference when it comes to your health.” – Rachel Link

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Wiese, C., Keil, D., Rasmussen, A. S., & Olesen, R. (2019). Effects of Yoga Asana Practice Approach on Types of Benefits Experienced. International journal of yoga, 12(3), 218–225. doi:10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_81_18

 

Abstract

Context:

Modern science and the classic text on hatha yoga, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, report physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and relational benefits of yoga practice. While all have specific suggestions for how to practice, little research has been done to ascertain whether specific practice approaches impact the benefits experienced by practitioners.

Aims:

Our aim was to relate the experience level of the practitioner, the context of practice approaches (time of day, duration of practice, frequency of practice, etc.), and experience level of the teacher, to the likelihood of reporting particular benefits of yoga.

Methods:

We conducted a cross-sectional descriptive survey of yoga practitioners across levels and styles of practice. Data were compiled from a large voluntary convenience sample (n = 2620) regarding respondents’ methods of practice, yoga experience levels, and benefits experienced. Multiple logistic regression was used to identify approaches to yoga practice that positively predicted particular benefits.

Results:

Frequency of practice, either with or without a teacher, was a positive predictor of reporting nearly all benefits of yoga, with an increased likelihood of experiencing most benefits when the practitioner did yoga five or more days per week. Other aspects of practice approach, experience level of the practitioner, and the experience level of the teacher, had less effect on the benefits reported.

Conclusions:

Practice frequency of at least 5 days per week will provide practitioners with the greatest amount of benefit across all categories of benefits. Other practice approaches can vary more widely without having a marked impact on most benefits experienced.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6746050/

 

Mindful Sex is Better Sex

Mindful Sex is Better Sex

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“When you apply mindfulness, meditation and yogic principles to your sex life, things begin to shift in a fantastic way.” – Courtney Avery

 

Relationships can be difficult as two individuals can and do frequently disagree or misunderstand one another. This is amplified in marriage where the couple interacts daily and frequently have to resolve difficult issues. Sex is a very important aspect of relationships. Problems with sex are very common and have negative consequences for relationships. While research suggests that sexual dysfunction is common, it is a topic that many people are hesitant or embarrassed to discuss. Women suffer from sexual dysfunction more than men with 43% of women and 31% of men reporting some degree of difficulty. Hence, sex has major impacts on people’s lives and relationships. Greater research attention to sexual and relationship satisfaction is warranted.

 

Mindfulness trainings have been shown to improve a variety of psychological issues including emotion regulationstress responsestraumafear and worryanxiety, and depression, and self-esteem. Mindfulness training has also been found to improve relationships and to be useful in treating sexual problems. But there is little empirical research. So, it makes sense to further investigate the relationship of mindfulness with couple’s sexual satisfaction.

 

In today’s Research News article “The role of sexual mindfulness in sexual wellbeing, Relational wellbeing, and self-esteem.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6640099/), Leavitt and colleagues recruited midlife (aged 35-60 years), heterosexual, married, men and women and had them complete a questionnaire measuring mindfulness, sexual mindfulness, including awareness and non-judgement of sexual experience, sexual satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, and self-esteem.

 

They found that the higher the levels of both the aware and non-judgement facets of sexual mindfulness the higher the levels of trait mindfulness and sexual satisfaction and the higher the levels of trait mindfulness the greater the sexual satisfaction. High levels of relationship satisfaction were associated with high levels of sexual satisfaction and self-esteem. They found that trait mindfulness and sexual mindfulness were additive in their associations with sexual satisfaction. Women but not men who were high in aware sexual mindfulness had greater sexual satisfaction. Finally, they found that high non-judgement sexual mindfulness was associated with higher levels of self-esteem.

 

These results suggest that mindfulness during sex, being aware of sensations and emotions and not judging the experience, is important for satisfaction with sex, the marital relationship, and self-esteem. In other words, sex is better when experienced mindfully, relationships are better when sex is better, and one feels better about oneself when sex is better. These results are correlational and causation cannot be determined. But the results are interesting and suggest that a randomized controlled trial of the effectiveness of sexual mindfulness training to enhance satisfaction with sex and the relationship is justified.

 

Sex is fundamental to marital relationships and being mindful of the experience, both in terms of sensations and emotions, appears to be very important for the individual and the couple. Enhancing the sexual experience with mindfulness may well be an important therapeutic technique for enhancing satisfaction with marriage.

 

So, mindful sex is better sex.

 

“When people have sexual problems, a lot of the time it’s anxiety-related and they’re not really in their bodies, or in the moment. Mindfulness brings them back into the moment. When people say they’ve had the best sex and you ask them what they were thinking about, they can’t tell you, because they weren’t thinking about anything, they were just enjoying the moment. That’s mindfulness.” – Kate Moyle

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Leavitt, C. E., Lefkowitz, E. S., & Waterman, E. A. (2019). The role of sexual mindfulness in sexual wellbeing, Relational wellbeing, and self-esteem. Journal of sex & marital therapy, 45(6), 497–509. doi:10.1080/0092623X.2019.1572680

 

Abstract

In this study we examine the role of sexual mindfulness in individuals’ sexual satisfaction, relational satisfaction, and self-esteem. Midlife U.S. men and women (N = 194 married, heterosexual individuals; 50.7% female; 94% Caucasian, age range 35–60 years) completed an online survey. More sexually mindful individuals tended to have better self-esteem, be more satisfied with their relationships and, particularly for women, be more satisfied with their sex lives. Some of these associations occurred even after controlling for trait mindfulness. These findings may also allow researchers and therapists to better address an individual’s sexual wellbeing, relational wellbeing, and self-esteem by teaching sexual mindfulness skills.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6640099/

 

Improve Relationships with the Self and Others with Yoga Practice

Improve Relationships with the Self and Others with Yoga Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Cultivating mindfulness can help you face the inevitable difficulties and disappointments that arise in relationship with equanimity, compassion, and loving-kindness.” – Phillip Moffit

 

Humans are social animals. This is a great asset for the species as the effort of the individual is amplified by cooperation. In primitive times, this cooperation was essential for survival. But in modern times it is also essential, not for survival but rather for making a living and for the happiness of the individual. This ability to cooperate is so essential to human flourishing that it is built deep into our DNA and is reflected in the structure of the human nervous system. Mindfulness has been found to improve relationships with others.

 

It is not only important to develop relationships with others but to also develop relationship with the self. There is a widespread problem in the West that many people don’t seem to like themselves. The antidote to self-dislike is self-compassion. Self-compassion is “treating oneself with kindness and understanding when facing suffering, seeing one’s failures as part of the human condition, and having a balanced awareness of painful thoughts and emotions” – Kristin Neff.  Unfortunately, there has been little systematic research of the effectiveness of yoga practice in developing relationships with the self and others.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Daily Influences of Yoga on Relational Outcomes Off of the Mat.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6521757/), Kishida and colleagues recruited adult yoga practitioners. They had the participants report their yoga practice characteristics and then maintained an online 21-day diary of yoga practice, mindfulness, self-compassion, compassion, social connectedness, psychological health, and physical health.

 

They found that across days that the higher the level of mindfulness the higher the level of psychological health, self-compassion, compassion, and social connectedness. They also found that the greater the amount of yoga practice the higher the level of mindfulness and self-compassion. A mediation analysis revealed that yoga practice was associated with greater compassion and social connectedness in part directly and in part through its relationship with mindfulness, where yoga practice was associated with greater mindfulness which in turn was associated with greater compassion and social connectedness. In addition, daily yoga practice was associated with compassion both directly and indirectly through its relationship with self-compassion, where yoga practice was associated with greater self-compassion which in turn was associated with greater compassion.

 

This is a correlational study, so causation cannot be concluded, But previous studies have clearly shown that mindfulness practices such as yoga produce improvements in psychological health, self-compassion, compassion, and social connectedness. So, it is likely that yoga practice was the cause of the benefits reported in the present study.

 

Yoga is a mindfulness practice. The results suggest that yoga practice produces direct benefits for the psychological and social well-being of the practitioner in a direct manner. But the results also suggest that yoga practice improves mindfulness which in turn improves the practitioners psychological and social well-being. So, yoga practice by improving mindfulness produces benefits and yoga practice by itself also has its own benefits. These results suggest that practicing yoga make an individual happier with themselves and better able to engage with others.

 

So, improve relationships with the self and others with yoga practice.

 

“In the same way as yoga requires knowledge and skills for the perfection of the practice, relationships require relational skills in order for them to grow and unfold over time.” – Joel Feldman

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Kishida, M., Mogle, J., & Elavsky, S. (2019). The Daily Influences of Yoga on Relational Outcomes Off of the Mat. International journal of yoga, 12(2), 103–113. doi:10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_46_18

 

Abstract

Background:

Despite the wide array of health benefits that have been evidenced with yoga, a clear gap exists examining how yoga impacts connections with oneself and to others.

Aims:

The objectives of the present study were twofold: (1) to describe the day-to-day (in)variability in daily yoga practice and relational outcomes and (2) to examine the direct and indirect effects of yoga practice on relational outcomes.

Methods:

Community-dwelling yoga practitioners (n = 104, age range: 18–76 years) with a yoga practice of at least once a week were recruited for a 21-day daily diary study. Practitioners were asked to complete daily Internet surveys at the end of the day which included questions with respect to one’s yoga practice and relational domains (i.e., mindfulness, [self-]compassion, and social connectedness).

Results:

Multilevel analyses revealed yoga and relational outcomes to be dynamic phenomena, indicated by substantial variation (intraclass correlations = 0.34–0.48) at the within-person level. On days when an individual practiced more yoga than their usual, greater mindfulness (b = 2.93, standard error [SE] = 0.39, P < 0.05) and self-compassion (b = 1.45, SE = 0.46, P < 0.05) were also reported. 1-1-1 multilevel mediation models demonstrated that yoga has an indirect effect on both compassion and social connectedness through increases in mindfulness at the within- and between-person levels. In models testing self-compassion as the mediator, the indirect effect of daily yoga practice on compassion was significant, although limited to the within-person level.

Conclusions:

These findings suggest that a routine yoga practice could positively impact how a practitioner relates to theirselves and to others, both on a day-to-day basis, and with accumulated practice.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6521757/

 

Improve Romantic Relationship Satisfaction with Mindfulness

Improve Romantic Relationship Satisfaction with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness is indeed linked with more satisfying relationships. . . Overall, mindfulness was shown to have a reliable effect on relationship satisfaction. . . Mindfulness makes us more compassionate and better able to stop destructive impulsive behavior. It can help us resolve conflict, rather than exacerbating it and be less reactive to relationship and life stressors.” – Melanie Greenberg

 

Relationships can be difficult as two individuals can and do frequently disagree or misunderstand one another. This is amplified in marriage where the couple interacts daily and frequently have to resolve difficult issues. These conflicts can produce strong emotions and it is important to be able to regulate these emotions in order to keep them from interfering with rational solutions to the conflict. The success of marriage can often depend upon how well the couple handles these conflicts. In fact, it has been asserted that the inability to resolve conflicts underlies the majority of divorces.

 

Mindfulness may be helpful in navigating marital disputes, as it has been shown to improve the emotion regulation and decrease anger and anxiety. It may be a prerequisite for deep listening and consequently to resolving conflict. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to improve relationships. So, mindfulness may be a key to successful relationships. One way that mindfulness may work to improve relationships is by reducing judgement and improving the acceptance of the romantic partner, including their imperfections. But, little is known about this, So, there is a need to investigate just how mindfulness effects couples partner acceptance and its effects on romantic relationship satisfaction.

 

In today’s Research News article “On the Association Between Mindfulness and Romantic Relationship Satisfaction: the Role of Partner Acceptance.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6153889/ ), Kappen and colleagues recruited adults on-line who were involved in a romantic relationship and had them complete measures of trait mindfulness, partner acceptance and relationship satisfaction. They found that mindfulness was associated with greater relationship satisfaction both directly and as a result of mindfulness being associated with greater partner acceptance which was, in turn, associated with greater relationship satisfaction.

 

In another study they recruited adult mindfulness trainees who were involved in a romantic relationship and their partners. They measured trait mindfulness, partner acceptance and relationship satisfaction in the primary participant and trait mindfulness, perceived acceptance by their partner, and relationship satisfaction in their romantic partner. They found similar relationships as in the first study but also found additionally that the mindfulness associated improvement in partner acceptance was associated with increased perception by their romantic partner of acceptance. This, in turn, was associated by improved relationship satisfaction in the romantic partner.

 

These findings are correlational, so causation cannot be determined. But, they suggest that the individual’s level of mindfulness plays an important role in promoting a satisfying relationship. It appears to do so both directly and indirectly through partner acceptance. As an additional benefit, that partner acceptance appears to be affect the partner by being associated with the perception that their partner accepts them with all their imperfections and this promotes better satisfaction with the relationship. Hence, mindfulness appears to be associated with better romantic relationships in both the individual and their partner.

 

So, improve romantic relationship satisfaction with mindfulness.

 

In applying mindfulness to our intimate relationships, we find a greater relationship satisfaction, better communication, more skillful responses to relationship stress, increased empathy, greater acceptance of our partners, and increased sensuality within physical intimacy.“ – Sean Courey-Pickering

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Kappen, G., Karremans, J. C., Burk, W. J., & Buyukcan-Tetik, A. (2018). On the Association Between Mindfulness and Romantic Relationship Satisfaction: the Role of Partner Acceptance. Mindfulness, 9(5), 1543–1556. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-0902-7

 

Abstract

In three studies, it was investigated whether trait mindfulness is positively associated with partner acceptance, defined as the ability and willingness to accept the partner’s imperfections, and whether partner acceptance explains the association between trait mindfulness and relationship satisfaction. Trait mindfulness, partner acceptance and relationship satisfaction were assessed in two MTurk samples (n1 = 190; n2 = 140) and a sample of participants of a mindfulness-based stress reduction course (n3 = 118) and their partners (53 complete couples), using self-report measures. In all three samples, trait mindfulness was related to partner acceptance and in two out of three studies trait mindfulness was directly positively related to relationship satisfaction. Also, the results provided initial support for the mediating role of partner acceptance in the association between mindfulness and relationship satisfaction. Dyadic data further suggested that the benefits of mindfulness and partner acceptance on relationship satisfaction extend from the individual to the partner through increased partner acceptance. Together, the results provide initial support for the hypothesis that partner acceptance may be an important mechanism through which mindfulness promotes relationship satisfaction in both partners of a romantic couple.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6153889/

 

The Noble Eightfold Path with Relationships

The Noble Eightfold Path with Relationships

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“When we have closer intimate relationships, maybe a marital relationship or lover relationship where sexuality is involved, then we assume we want more from each other. And, there’s the rub. This is where the Buddhist idea of true love helps. True love is where you want the happiness of the beloved; it’s not that you want something from the beloved. You just want to give to the beloved. Shantideva said, “All the joy the world contains has come through wishing happiness for others. All the misery the world contains has come through wanting happiness for oneself.” – Robert Thurman

 

Probably the best place to practice the Eightfold Path is not on the meditation mat or in a cloistered environment but in the midst of the chaos of everyday life. There are wonderful opportunities to practice presented to us all the time embedded in the complexities of the modern world. In fact, the whole idea of practicing on the mat is to learn things that will apply to our everyday existence. What better place is there, then, than the real environment to practice them.

 

In previous essays, we discussed driving an automobile and the work environment as excellent venues for practice. In today’s essay we’ll discuss practicing in the midst of our relationships with significant others. This is an excellent context in which to practice the Buddha’s Eightfold Path. It is filled with emotions, desires, sex, conflicts, suffering, compassion, and memories. In other words, our relationships have all the ingredients to practice and to put to the test all the principles of mindfulness and the Eightfold Path for the cessation of suffering; Right View, Right Intentions, Right Speech, Right Actions, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.

 

There are many wonderful opportunities in relationships to practice the Right View idea of impermanence. Indeed, our relationships are constantly changing. One day is full of love, understanding and kindness and the next filled with conflict, resentment, and anger. No matter how bad or good the relationships are or the daily interactions between partners, they are sure to change. Sexual relations are a wonderful example of impermanence, with desires and feeling changing dramatically from moment to moment, but none of it can be held onto for more than a moment. They come and they go. They’re impermanent. This exemplifies the Right View idea of transitoriness. We all grow and develop and change throughout our lifetime and these changes can be challenging for relationships. There’s an old story about relationships that upon marriage, the woman believes that the man will change, but he doesn’t, while the man believes that the woman will never change, but she does! Adapting and coping with these changes requires that we understand impermanence, the Right View.

 

We can also practice the Right View idea of interconnectedness. Relationships are cooperative ventures. How interconnected the couple is, is on display. Relationships require consideration of the needs and aspirations of both partners by both partners. Acting alone would is a sure formula for chaos and conflict in a relationship. You affect your partner and your partner affects you, which affects your partner, which, in turn, affects you and so on. If there are children involved this interconnectedness becomes magnified. Keep in mind “If you want to be happy effectively, then think about other people’s happiness and you will be. Think about your own happiness only, and you will always be dissatisfied because you will never have enough.”  – Robert Thurman. Understanding and adapting to the dynamic interplay between partners requires that we recognize, adapt to, and work with this interconnectedness, the Right View.

 

In relationships we can also view and practice the Right View idea of no permanent self. This thing called self that you think of a permanent and static actually changes moment to moment in reaction to what transpires in relationships. How you view yourself and your beliefs about the supposed self can change in a flash depending upon what your partner says and does. You may think of yourself as a kind and loving person, but your partner treats you like a selfish and cruel person. This can change this idea of the self. A little mindful reflection regarding this reveals that this thing that we call the self was never permanent in the first place but changing and evolving, coming and going, just like everything else. The highly emotionally charged cauldron of relationships amplifies this and makes it clearer and clearer. This is a tremendous learning experience. Coming to grips with this requires that we develop the Right View of no permanent self.

 

It is hard to find a better context than relationships to develop the Right View idea of suffering and unsatisfactoriness, and their roots. In relationships we want everything to be exactly as we want it to be, and when it isn’t we suffer. We want our partners to understand us, we want sex to fulfill our fantasies, we want to always be agreed with, we want more excitement and less dull chores, we want our partners to acquiesce to all our decisions, we want to have space, we don’t want to deal with our in-laws, we want our partners to unconditionally love us, etc. When these things don’t happen, we suffer. In other words, you can learn, if you are observant of what is happening in relationships, that your suffering is caused by your lack of acceptance of how things really are in your relationship. So, relationships constitute wonderful laboratories to practice Right View. You can learn to accept things as they are, to see things without judgment, to view the relationship, your partner, and children just as they are, as individual human being with their own desires and needs. When you view them this way, the love grows, and the incredible wonder of life and loving begins to reveal itself. You can learn to understand that the way you act with them has consequences, affecting yourself and the rest of the family, in other words, you practice and develop Right View.

 

You can readily practice Right Intentions in relationships and this can lead to Right Actions. Intentions are a key. They become your moral compass. These intentions include the happiness of our partner. “True love is where you want the happiness of the beloved; it’s not that you want something from the beloved.”  – Robert Thurman. They tend to lead you in the right direction even though you may at times stumble.  But, it is often difficult or impossible to predict all of the consequences of your actions. Sometimes, even with the Right Intentions you can cause your partner to suffer. For example, you may want to provide a high standard of living for your partner and family and work long hours to do so. But, this may cause your partner to be lonely and unhappy or your children to feel neglected. You need to try to not only to have Right Intentions, but to discern how even the best of intentions can sometime produce harmful outcomes. The truly Right Intentions do not produce harm, only good. You have to sometimes balance the good you’re doing with the harm produced by the same actions. This requires Right View. This is where relationships can be such a great practice as you can learn what works and what doesn’t and become better at discerning what are the wholesome Right Actions from those that produce more harm than good.

 

Right Intentions also includes the abandonment of unwholesome desires. If you relate to your partner with anger, impatience, selfishness, resentment you are likely to harm them and yourself. The harm may not be major or direct, but indirect by affecting partner and children in negative ways. Perhaps your anger at your partner overdrawing a checking account causes you to lash out at your children. Perhaps, your selfishness causes you to neglect you partners requests or needs eliciting frustration or anger in your partner, or simply cause them to suffer. But sometimes you can produce direct harm to your partner. This can occur when anger and alcohol result in physical or psychological abuse or when your sexual desires cause you to force yourself on an unwilling partner.

 

On the other hand, if you practice Right Intentions with sincere intentions to create good and happiness, relieve suffering, you will treat your partner with tolerance and understanding, with kindness and good will. When our partners are treated with respect, compassion, and helpfulness or when a partner’s anger or frustration are reacted to with patience, kindness, and tolerance, harm and suffering have likely been prevented. A considerate sexual relationship, where the intentions are to love and satisfy your partner, the relationship will become more satisfying for both of you, particularly if your partner has the same Right Intentions. The happiness and love produced carries into everything that you do affecting how you treat you children, your friends, your coworkers, and everyone that you meet. It is good to reflect on the ripples of good that may have been created by the Right Actions producing positive consequences, which produce more positive consequences, producing more positive consequences, etc. well into the future. So, if you form Right Intentions and aspire to create good and happiness you’ll be a better partner and will produce more harmony and good will in in all of your interactions and more importantly will be moving yourself along the eightfold path.

 

There are many opportunities to practice Right Speech in relationships. This can include non-verbal communications such as facial expressions, body postures, etc., perhaps even holding hands or loving glances. But, predominantly Right Speech is verbal. You may have a bad habit of often reacting to a mistake with reflexive emotional expletives. This can occur in response to something as simple as dropping a glass of wine. This can also include gestures. These can occur reflexively or even without awareness but do no good and create harm in yourself and sometimes aggravate your partner. Keep in mind the advice “Have a fast ear and a slow tongue.” ~Mark Ward. Right Speech also involves refraining from gossip. Couples often gossip or repeat rumors about family and friends. This can hurt others in unpredictable and sometimes unknown ways. In addition, Right Speech is truthful speech. In communicating with your partner only speak things that you know are absolutely true. Even “little white lies” have a cumulative effect eroding trust and understanding, while always speaking the truth promotes trust, understanding, and harmony. Right Speech takes practice. We have years of training and daily multiple examples of wrong speech. So, be patient and practice. Slowly the effects and benefits will become apparent.

 

The notion of Right Livelihood mandates that the couple’s occupations not only earns a living but also creates greater happiness, wisdom, and well-being, and relieves suffering. Conversely, they should not produce harm. Some occupations can be clearly seen as creating harm such as manufacturing, selling, or delivering weapons, cigarettes, or harmful drugs, human trafficking, or driving animals to slaughter. Some occupations clearly seem to create greater good and happiness, such as teacher, aid worker, nurse, etc. But, most occupations are a little more difficult to tell. Sometimes harm is produced indirectly, such as by damaging the environment, or resulting in layoffs from a competitor, or by producing goods or services that can be misused or used by others to create harm. Although rarely having direct effects upon relationships, engaging in Right Livelihood can do so indirectly. Feeling good about what you do for work can spill over bringing those good feelings home. Also, developing the discernment required to understand the impact of your occupations is a useful skill for understanding the impact of your actions upon your partner.

 

Relationships also present a great context to practice Right Effort. It takes substantial effort to interact mindfully. If you act automatically as most people do most of the time, there is little or no mindfulness and little or no effort.  When you first get up in the morning you have to set the intention to engage in your daily activities in such a way as to lessen suffering in yourself and your partner, to act with kindness, compassion, patience, and courtesy, to drop fear, anger, hatred, selfishness, and to bring to our interactions with our partner the intention to promote well-being and happiness. Right Effort is working the “Middle Way.” That is not trying too hard and getting stressed about interacting and loving properly, and also not being lackadaisical, but rather to try, but relax. Don’t beat yourself up when you’re not relating to your partner mindfully, but congratulate yourself when you do. The “Middle Way” is where effort should be targeted.

 

Acting mindlessly is probably the norm. Most people perform their routine daily activities while their minds are elsewhere, ruminating about the past, planning for the future, or off in fantasy and daydreams. This provides you with a terrific opportunity to practice Right Mindfulness. Jon Kabat-Zinn defined mindfulness as “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.” What better opportunity to practice this than while your interacting with your partner? Right Mindfulness precludes focusing on social media or engaging in other distractions when with your partner. Right Mindfulness makes you acutely aware of what is happening and how you’re feeling during every moment together. Awareness of how you’re feeling and what’s producing those feelings, and how you’re reacting to them makes you better able to interact effectively without emotional outbursts that are non-productive and can hurt your partner. Right Mindfulness is not just part of the eightfold path it is a prerequisite for the practice of the seven other components of the path. So, relating mindfully is a fundamental practice and relationships are great situations for practice.

 

Right Concentration is the practice of focusing the mind solely on one object or a specific unchanging set of objects. This is developed during contemplative practice such as meditation. It is essential to effectively interacting with you partner. Our world is replete with distractions and interruptions. But, to truly be attentive and listening mindfully to our partner we must concentrate. Right Concentration in relationships includes making the effort to be there for your partner and deeply listen to them. There are very few more important things that you can do in relationships than to simply give your partner your full presence, your full attention, your full mindfulness. Improvement in attentional ability is a consequence of practicing Right Concentration. The ability to concentrate and screen out intrusive sounds, sights, speech and thoughts allow you to focus on your partner, producing a higher quality relationship. In addition, it is thought that Right Concentration requires Right Effort, Right Intentions, and Right Mindfulness and these can also be practiced and developed. So, interacting with our beloved is a wonderful situation for the practice of Right Concentration, benefiting each partner.

 

Negotiating the eightfold path in relationships is not easy. But, remember that it is a practice. Over time you’ll better and better at it, but nowhere near perfect. Frequently the discursive mind takes over or your emotions will get the better of you. But, by continuing the practice you’ll slowly progress. you’ll become a better partner and have a more relaxed, loving, and happier relationship. Keep in mind the teaching that actions that lead to greater harmony and happiness should be practiced, while those that lead to unsatisfactoriness and unhappiness should be let go. One of the keys in the practice is mindfully observing your partner and yourself. This allows you to discern the improvements even when they’re small and subtle.  Over time, these small improvements add up.  Without doubt, practicing the eightfold path lead to a terrific, happy, satisfying, loving relationship.

 

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ~Lao Tzu

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

Better Relationships with Mindfulness

Better Relationships with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“In romantic relationships, we make ourselves vulnerable to the good will of our relationship partner. Our fears of being hurt in this vulnerable state can make us more reactive, and we run the risk of self-sabotaging, not acting in our best interest in relation to the ones we love. Mindfulness presents a valuable tool for facing the daily challenges of staying close to our partner. It allows us to become more centered and calm, so we can talk things out instead of spiraling into a screaming match.” – Lisa Firestone

 

Relationships can be difficult as two individuals can and do frequently disagree or misunderstand one another. This is amplified in marriage where the couple interacts daily and frequently have to resolve difficult issues. These conflicts can produce strong emotions and it is important to be able to regulate these emotions in order to keep them from interfering with rational solutions to the conflict. The success of marriage can often depend upon how well the couple handles these conflicts. In fact, it has been asserted that the inability to resolve conflicts underlies the majority of divorces.

 

Mindfulness may be helpful in navigating marital disputes, as it has been shown to improve the emotion regulation and decrease anger and anxiety. It may be a prerequisite for deep listening and consequently to resolving conflict. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to improve relationships. So, mindfulness may be a key to successful relationships. There is a need to investigate just how mindfulness effects couples and their behaviors during their daily interactions. In today’s Research News article “The Role of Mindfulness in Daily Relationship Process: Examining Daily Conflicts and Relationship Mood.” (See summary below). Iida & Shapiro recruited cohabitating heterosexual couples (average age 34 years). They had both partners complete daily for 24 days on-line measures of mindfulness, conflict with partner, and relationship mood including satisfaction, feeling loved, feeling supported, relationship anger, relationship anxiety, and relationship sadness.

 

In general, they found that women reported greater satisfaction and feeling supported in their relationships than men. Their partner’s mindfulness was associated with women’s satisfaction. It was positively related to their male partner’s mindfulness; the more mindful the men, the more satisfied the women. Conflict reduced satisfaction, feeling supported, and feeling loved, and increased anger and relationship anxiety in both men and women. Men’s mindfulness was positively associated with their feeling loved, the more mindful the men were, the more loved they felt. Men’s mindfulness also moderated the effects of conflict on feeling supported, relationship anxiety, and relationship anger with the more mindful men having a greater decrease in feeling supported and more relationship anger and increases in relationship anxiety when there was conflict. Women’s mindfulness was negatively associated with their relationship anxiety and positively with relationship sadness, the more mindful the women were the less relationship anxiety and the greater sadness they felt.

 

These are very interesting results that begin to uncover how mindfulness effects relationships and indicate how mindfulness plays an important role in daily relationship process. Mindfulness appears to be associated with more positive moods and less negative moods in relationships. Although conflict appears to affect men and women equally, otherwise the genders have different responses to their own and their partner’s mindfulness. “Mindfulness in men was associated with them feeling more loved and supported in their relationship. Mindfulness in women was associated with them feeling less anxiety and sadness in their relationships.” Mindful men also appear to be more sensitive to the effects of conflict feeling greater anxiety and less loved.

 

The results clearly demonstrate the importance of mindfulness to the feelings of the partners during everyday situations. Although men and women appear to react to some extent differently, mindfulness for both contributes to greater positive feelings and lower negative feelings. It will be important for future studies to investigate the effect of mindfulness training on the emotions surrounding relationships. The results clear suggest that mindfulness contributes to happier more stable relationships.

 

So, have better relationships with mindfulness.

 

“Mindfulness requires an intentional and honest look at the connection we feel with those around us. It is only after we acknowledge the current state of our connection that we can aspire to deepen it in small ways.” – Via Aarathi Selvan

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Iida, M. & Shapiro, A.F. The Role of Mindfulness in Daily Relationship Process: Examining Daily Conflicts and Relationship Mood. Mindfulness (2017). doi:10.1007/s12671-017-0727-9

 

Abstract

The current study examined the role of trait mindfulness in daily relationship mood and relationship processes in cohabiting couples. Forty-seven couples participated in 24-day online daily questionnaires. Mindfulness in men was associated with higher levels of feeling loved and feeling supported, and mindfulness in women was associated with lower levels of relationship anxiety and relationship sadness. Mindfulness moderated the association between relationship conflict and anxiety, such that men with more mindfulness experienced a larger decrease in feeling supported, and a bigger increase in relationship anxiety, on conflict days compared to non-conflict day levels. These findings overall suggest that trait mindfulness is indeed beneficial for positive relationship process on a day-to-day basis, but that associations are somewhat complex, and also that individual-level trait mindfulness alone may not be sufficient for buffering individuals from the negative impact of conflict.