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I Changed My Marriage by Changing My Mind: 10 Meditations for a Happy Relationship

Good Morning America recently did a segment based on a post I wrote here at Babble called I Took a Break From My Marriage. Then I Fell Back In Love. I’ve been on national television several times before and, let me tell you: it’s a strange experience. If you’ve ever cringed at the sound of your own recorded voice, then you have a small taste of what it’s like. My husband looked amazing, as he always does. But me? I kept thinking: Who is that woman? And why is she talking with such a soft voice? Do I really look like that and sound like that? 

Once I got past that initial wave of self-consciousness, I realized that the segment was a bit misleading. It wasn’t the vacation that enriched my marriage, it was the meditating I did during my vacation that deepened my love for my husband. My husband and I had some problems years ago, especially the year we became parents. I fantasized about divorce sometimes several times an hour those first few years of parenthood. I will admit: I wasn’t in love with Mark back then. But we eventually worked things out, and I stopped wishing for divorce and began wishing for marital happiness.

Five years ago, that wish for happiness led to me to a Buddhist meditation class. Initially I only wanted the class to help me with my anger. I didn’t like myself when I lost it— shouting at my husband, for instance, when he didn’t come home on time. I didn’t want to be that wife, and I definitely didn’t want to be that mother. I was desperate to change.

Meditation helped me do just that.  When I look back and think about who I was and what my marriage was like five years ago, I’m filled with a sense of wonder and awe. By changing myself, I changed my marriage. Here are 10 meditations that can help you change your marriage for the better, too.

  • New You, New Marriage 1 of 11
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    Use these meditations to change yourself — becoming happier, calmer, and more loving — so your marriage can change for the better.

  • Breathe First, Talk Later 2 of 11
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    Here's one of the first meditations I learned: As you breath in, imagine you are inhaling happiness and peace in the form of white light. As you exhale, let go of your negativity in the form of black smoke.

    Now whenever I felt that ticked-off-sensation building in my heart, I tell myself, "You need a time out. Go breathe." By taking even a small amount of time for myself, I can shift my brain and my heart out of anger and into patience. Only then, I've learned, am I able to speak my truth with skill, in a way that my husband will understand.

     Photo credit: Alisa Bowman

  • Anger Comes, and Anger Goes 3 of 11
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    Thoughts and feelings are like clouds. They just pass through the sky of our mind. Sometimes they are powerful: like a hurricane. Other times, they are light, airy, and beautiful.

     

    This understanding helped me to see that I am not an angry person. I only have anger in my mind. By watching the angry thoughts as if they are clouds passing through my mind, I gain distance, clarity, and control. Then I'm able to choose which thought clouds to pay attention to and which ones to ignore.

     

    Photo credit: Alisa Bowman

  • Everyone’s Happiness Matters 4 of 11
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    I never realized just how self-focused, self-consciousness and even just plain selfish I was until I began meditating. I learned that all of my conflicts with my husband came from a disconnect: I wanted one thing for my happiness; he wanted something else for his. By meditating on the idea that everyone's happiness matters — including my husband's happiness — I've been able to more quickly consider his viewpoint, understand how it relates to my own, and find solutions that allow us both to feel happy.

     

    Photo credit: Olaf Staroypinski

  • Live From the Heart 5 of 11
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    I used to live from my head, and it was draining. Meditation has helped me to create a reservoir of peace at my heart, one that I can dip into no matter where I am. Think of how some people hate winter, and how a child delights in catching snowflakes on his or her tongue. Winter doesn't produce the sadness; the sadness about winter comes from inside our own minds. We're all capable of feeling happy and peaceful no matter the weather, the money that is or is not in our bank accounts, or even how those around us are treating us. It really is possible. We're all in more control of our happiness than we believe. Don't dwell on the chill in the air. Delight in catching snowflakes on your tongue. 

     

    Photo credit: Alisa Bowman

  • Life is Short 6 of 11
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    Whenever I'm having a hard time letting go of negativity, I walk to this graveyard and I stare at this one headstone. I never knew Sue, but the message on her headstone reminds me to savor every moment. One of those moments just might be my last. Do I want this thought to be my final thought? Do I want the words that just came out of my mouth to be the last ones anyone hears? Knowing that I could die at any moment helps me to choose my thoughts, words and actions with more loving attention.

     

    Photo credit: Alisa Bowman

  • Contemplate the Good Qualities of Others 7 of 11
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    My husband is a die hard University of Florida fan. If you are one, too, then you know that these shoes are all decked out in Gators colors. His passion for watching Gators football used to really get on my nerves: What is wrong with him? Why would anyone spend so much time doing that? But as I learned to meditate on the good qualities of others, I was able to shift that mindset. My husband might spend loads of time watching various sports of TV and even more time riding him bicycle, but he never questions how I choose to spend my time. For instance he completely supported my wish to travel to Portugal to meditate, even though me traveling there for 10 days caused him some hardship. That was so incredibly kind. Now the thing I once hated about him has become one of the many things I love about him.

     

    Photo credit: Olaf Staroypinski

  • Take Nothing Personally 8 of 11
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    It used to be that whenever someone did something that led to my own discomfort — such as when my husband vacuumed while I was trying to interview a client over the phone — my immediate thought was, "Why is he trying to annoy me?" With meditation comes the wisdom of knowing that most people are not trying to destroy the peace of mind of others around them. Usually, their intentions are either neutral or, more often, completely generous and pure. It's the soot inside our minds that causes us to misread people. I didn't want to cause my dog discomfort when I put the cone over his head that you see in this photo. I only wanted to stop him from hurting himself. Similarly, when my husband vacuums, he's not thinking, "Yay, she can't hear her client! Awesome!" No, he's thinking, "I bet she'll enjoy working in a clean room." If my mind is pure, I will see pure intensions. 

    Photo credit: Alisa Bowman

  • Look in the Mirror 9 of 11
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    My world is a reflection of my mind. As a result, rather than immediately blame my husband, meditation has taught me to continually look inward: What is it about me that causes me to feel uncomfortable right now? Why do I feel angry about this? What can I do to feel more peaceful right now? Now I'm thankful when something triggers my negativity because I see it as an opportunity to become the person I want to be: patient, loving, kind, and generous.

    Photo credit: Alisa Bowman

  • Things Are Not as They Appear 10 of 11
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    Rather than read thoughts and intentions into someone else's head, I remind myself, "I don't know what he is thinking. I don't know why he did that." And it's true. I only know my intentions. By letting go of those assumptions, I'm better able to solve problems with a positive mind.

     

    Photo credit: Alisa Bowman

  • Be the Change You Want to See in the World 11 of 11
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    Be the peace. Be the love. Be the happiness. Be the joy. Be the effort. Be the solution. By changing our minds, we can all change our worlds, including our marriages.

     

    Photo credit: Alisa Bowman

Read more of Alisa’s writing at ProjectHappilyEverAfter.com.

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