“To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindfulness is all about being aware of your surroundings and yourself. It’s a powerful technique that not only benefits your life but also your relationships.
Legendary Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh wrote a whole book explaining how mindfulness can help you learn how to love. Below are 5 tips from the spiritual guru:
1) Try to understand your partner without judging
“When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason
and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can
love, and the situation will change.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
From their expressions and facial appearance to their body language and words, try to understand what your partner is feeling without judging them. You’ll be able to better understand who they are and what they want which will enable your relationship to grow and change.
2) Don’t be too attached and possessive
“You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh
Nobody wants to feel like they’re being controlled or relied upon. Instead, let go and love them without attaching your happiness to them. True love is when each person both feels free and readily able to enjoy every single moment. Being possessive is a negative emotion that shows insecurity in the relationship.
3) Be kind to each other
“The source of love is deep in us and we can help others realize a lot of happiness. One word, one action, one thought can reduce another person’s suffering and bring that person joy.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“Compassion is a verb.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Kindness and compassion are the seeds of a healthy relationship. But they’re not something that just happen. It takes continued effort to be kind and compassionate. Make sure you’re thinking of your partner and acting compassionate whenever you can.
4) Set time aside to talk and understand
“We really have to understand the person we want to love. If our love is only a will to possess, it is not love. If we only think of ourselves, if we know only our own needs and ignore the needs of the other person, we cannot love. We must look deeply in order to see and understand the needs, aspirations, and suffering of the person we love. This is the ground of real love. You cannot resist loving another person when you really understand him or her.
From time to time, sit close to the one you love, hold his or her hand, and ask, ‘Darling, do I understand you enough? Or am I making you suffer? Please tell me so that I can learn to love you properly. I don’t want to make you suffer, and if I do so because of my ignorance, please tell me so that I can love you better, so that you can be happy.” If you say this in a voice that communicates your real openness to understand, the other person may cry.
That is a good sign, because it means the door of understanding is opening and everything will be possible again.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
It can’t really be put much better than that. True love is understanding, so make sure you make time each week to actually talk with each other. Don’t be afraid to ask the difficult questions.
5) Express yourself authentically
“A real love letter is made of insight, understanding, and compassion. Otherwise it’s not a love letter. A true love letter can produce a transformation in the other person, and therefore in the world. But before it produces a transformation in the other person, it has to produce a transformation within us. Some letters may take the whole of our lifetime to write.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
If you want to bring joy to your partner, then you need to experience it yourself. Live life according to your values and what you’re passionate about. Not only will it improve your quality of life, but you’ll inevitably improve theirs too.
This article was originally published on The Power of Ideas.