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Mindful : April 2017
and I both felt a strong connection. “Alive and tingly,” were the words he used to describe it, and I felt that too. How Are You Crazy? Sooner or later, people in long-term relationships secretly think, “My partner is an idiot!,” Alain de Botton, author of The Course of Love, said in a radio interview when the book came out in 2016. “ We’re all deeply flawed and broken inside. We have to accept with grace that we’re imperfect and crazy, and so is our partner.” Interestingly, this perspective on love is supported by scientific research. In a talk called “Why People Fall in Love,” anthropologist Helen Fisher reported that f MRI studies show that people in happy long-term relationships have “positive illusions” about one another, and tend to over- look qualities in their partners that strategy, such as attacking, defending, or withdrawing from your part- ner.” For example, when Hugh is in withdrawal mode and I feel ignored but am not tuned into rising feelings of contraction in my body, I tend to lash out at him. I might blame him for leaving a pile of dirty dishes, when really what I want is a little attention. “Mindfulness of the body includes tuning into the relational field as well,” Geo adds. “There’s a constant signaling back and forth in relation- ships that most people miss out on.” In other words, things such as body language and tone of voice directly reflect what’s going on between two people—and these signals never lie. “The key is to try to understand the impact the signals you’re sending have on the other person, and what they say about you,” Geo explains. Tapping into the relational field is a core exercise in Geo’s book, also called The Path for Couples, and a practice we’re supposed to do at home once a week. After taking a few breaths together, the instructions are for one partner to ask the other: “Imagine our relationship right now. How does it feel to you? Do you feel connected to me? Neutral? Distant? What does your body sense when I’m near you?” The partner being queried next is asked to silently note the sensations he or she felt during the exercise, using words such as hot, cold, close, loving, angry, etc. After- ward, the partners switch roles, then take turns sharing their experience of connection or disconnection aloud, without judgment or blame. I confess: Hugh and I have been slackers. The first time we did the exer- cise was about an hour before the class started. I felt mostly agitation as I tried to sense the energ y between us. (I’ve always hated homework.) Still, weeks later, when we actually allowed our- selves enough time to practice, Hugh 62 mindful April 2017