Meet Wellness Collective, our immersive curriculum with Athleta that hooks you up with actionable advice from the smartest experts and brand founders in wellness right now. Get the goods at our monthly event series in New York City plus our online one-month wellness plans. Here, Ellie Burrows Gluck, co-founder and CEO of MNDFL, shares her four-week guide to deepening relationships through meditation.
If you’ve ever sat cross-legged on a comfy cushion and intentionally zoned out, you know that meditating is a real way to turn off those wandering thoughts and connect to yourself. But what if you could bring those same grounded feelings to your relationships with others?
“If we can sit and be mindful of something as simple as the breath, then we can bring that practice off the cushion to the more dynamic activities that are a part of everyday life,” says Ellie Burrows Gluck, founder and CEO of MNDFL, a New York-based meditation studio that features expert teachers who provide a variety of techniques in an accessible way.
“A consistent meditation practice lends itself to showing up with a more open heart and helps us manage our reactions to different things that might trigger us.”
And the benefits don’t just extend to you. “Relationships are challenging,” Gluck says. “A consistent meditation practice lends itself to showing up with a more open heart and helps us manage our reactions to different things that might trigger us.”
After over a decade of practice under her belt, meditating has shaped nearly every aspect of Gluck’s life. “[Meditation has] made me a less reactive person, which means I’m a better wife, sister, daughter, and coworker, and it’s changed my relationship with time,” she says. “I find that if I show up for my internal world, then I’m better able to show up for my external one.”
During week one, start by working with a friend to commit to a meditation practice together. Whether you’re struggling to begin your own routine or want to experience a common goal, holding each other accountable can be a powerful bonding exercise (and, obviously, make the whole thing more fun).
“Check in with each other each day after you’ve practiced to help stay consistent,” Gluck says. “You can also share your experiences and learn from one another and about each other.” The only thing better than personal growth is feeling it happen alongside your tribe.
Rather than just grabbing dinner with a friend, try adding to your usually scheduled programming with a mindfulness date. Gluck suggests scheduling an experience like a sound bath to chill out together without the pressure of having to do something.
“Sound baths are incredibly relaxing and most of the ‘work’ is done for you,” she adds. “Relax with the sounds of crystal singing bowls that transport you to a state of calm, then maybe go for a meal together and bring that same sense of relaxation to a shared meal and conversation.” After an intimate experience like that, you might have one vulnerable heart-to-heart on the menu.
Get the tissues out for week three, because it’s time to break down any barriers you might still have up. “While they can seem overwhelming, emotions are simply thoughts with a lot of energy behind them,” Gluck says. “In our signature MNDFL Emotions class, we learn to work with that energy, seeing it not as good or bad but simply a part of who we are, so we can live a life that is more open and full of contentment.”
By diving deeper into why specific things bother you, you can begin to develop healthy ways to deal with those situations that won’t automatically close the door on your emotions, but actually result in an opportunity to learn about yourself and those around you.
“It might be helpful to engage in an intention-setting practice in which you contemplate a quality you want to cultivate, like patience or open-heartedness,” Gluck says. “Intention-setting can be one way to engage in a contemplative meditation practice which is different from simply bringing your focus to the breath.”
Gluck makes a great point. At this stage in your meditating journey, you should focus on specific aspects of your life you’d like to see flourish—like your relationships. When you’re investing that much time and energy to bringing that specific goal to life, it’ll spill over to when you’re interacting with your friend or partner, ironically whether intentional or not. Mindfulness is a journey, but one best done together.
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