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Mindful : June 2013
life 58 mindful June 2013 Use your tongue (and ears) Communication. Are you for it or against it? I know the answer should be obvious, but I ask because some guys are against it.IknowIam.Ohsure,Ihaveafew high-minded rhetorical points to ma ke about the va lue of communication. (After all, I do it for a living). But sometimes my ideals and professional experience don’t translate into actions—or rather, words— at home. Just ask my wife. Women often struggle with commu- nication as well. Particularly, says Lucas, when they subsume their needs to oth- ers’ or are afraid to speak up about what they want. In the Brown University study, Silverstein a nd her colleagues found that mindfulness was especially helpful to women because it helps in getting self- judgment out of the way, which leaves all kinds of room for a rousal to be triggered by things they might have previously judged dirty. “Nonjudgment helps in communication with your partner,” she says, “in part because it enables you to say what turns you on.” Of course, there’s more to sexual communication than sex. We have to also be mindful of the emotions we take with us into bed. “I met recently with a man whose marriage is being smothered by the weight of everything unsaid,” writes neuroscientist Rick Hanson (who I’m pretty sure was not thinking of me). “But not talking is what ’s actually blow- ing up their relationship—and, in fact, when people do communicate in a hear t- felt way, it usually evokes support and open-heartedness from others.” Hanson provides some mindful tips for breaking the silence barrier, such as first grounding yourself in good inten- tions and then allowing yourself to expe- rience whatever is arising: feelings, body sensations, wants, memories, images. Try applying those principles when you bring up the death of ora l sex in your rela- tionship. Or a secret desire to dress up as an astronaut or a ballerina. Or whatever. When you’ve been with someone for a long time, it’s normal to fall into a rut. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. But you’re not going to stir things up if you clam up. Speak, my friend. You might find that your girlfriend wants to be the astronaut and you want to be the ballerina. Why not? Try it. And don’t forget: communication involves asking questions, too. So use your ears as well as your tongue, and perhaps strive to understa nd before you try to be understood. Above all, practice: Communicate early and often—and don’t forget to breathe. Maybe even pant. ● “Nonjudgment helps in communication with your partner in part because it enables you to say what turns you on.” Gina Silverstein, researcher at Brown University