“The future influences the present just as much as the past” -Friedrich Nietzche
Reflecting on the past and being mindful in the present are essential aspects of Relationship Zen. However, so is setting bold intentions for the future! The holiday season is a beautiful time to combine all three activities. Many people look back at the year, review old Facebook pictures (and “untag” themselves in unflattering photos), and set personal goals for the New Year.
Why not use the energy of the end of the year to benefit our relationships too? Some people literally rethink the relationships they have with others and themselves to make them more positive – this is great!
We think this time of year is good for setting aside some time with your partner to mindfully reflect on your shared path, to be grateful, and to set intentions for your future path. It’s a little like setting New Year’s resolutions for your relationship – the Relationship Zen way. It was a great activity for us because it started our year off with strong communication, friendship, and excitement for the relationship. Here’s our experience with this:
Reflect and be grateful
A team reflection is a very powerful bonding experience. The other morning we tried to reflect on the past year chronologically, but this was really hard! Instead, we found it easier to analyze random memories that we could recall about our year. We discussed them and reminisced about our pleasant and hard times together.
More importantly, we asked how these experiences shaped or changed our approaches to life and to our relationship. We also listed all the things we were grateful for about our lives together this year. Listing all the things you’re grateful for will not only make you happier, it will also keep you open to receiving more of the good stuff you enjoy from life. Be grateful.
Three themes emerged from our shared reflection:
- We need to find a way to record our shared experiences because we had a hard time remembering them
- We noticed that during our arguments, it’s not what we say that is hurtful (we don’t insult each other), it’s how we say it and how it’s received that causes tension
- The reflection also reinforced our idea that the more personal work we did (meditation, exercise, healthy eating, journaling, etc), the more equipped we were to improve our relationship. In other words, having a strong “personal bank account” allowed us to have strong “relationship bank accounts”.
The reflection also keeps the spark alive by reconnecting us to each other’s dreams, aspirations, and fears. We then used these points and our grateful list to set positive intentions together.
Set positive intentions
The act of setting positive intentions is important because “we are what we think”. To do this, we turned the outcomes from the reflection into intentions. Setting intentions is similar to the Relationship Zen visioning process.
- One of Lindsey’s intentions is to work on opening her personal power and throat Chakra by practicing yoga more seriously.
- One of David’s intentions is to work on opening his root Chakra by fully honouring the value that he creates.
- One shared intention was to continue reading books and blogs about “Zen” life because they increase our well-being and create a shared experience between us.
- Another shared intention is to deepen our respect for each other during arguments by regulating our tone of voice and by resolving not to take things personally.
We will help each other remain accountable to these intentions.
Challenge for the New Year
Try setting some time and space aside to reflect on the year together and see where it goes. Then list all the things you’re both grateful for about the year. Finally, set some general intentions for the year that you can help each other out with.
As mentioned, it’s hard to remember shared experiences so Lindsey adapted the idea of a memory jar to help! Have a spare jar from the holidays? Put it to good use! Every time there is a memorable (good, bad, or ugly) moment in your relationship, write it on a strip of paper and drop it in the jar. Some individuals do not enjoy reflecting in a journal so this is an easy and fun way to get the benefits of journaling!
At the end of the New Year (2014), get together and pull out the strips so you can take that time to reflect with one another. Behold! The Relationship Zen Memory Jar! It will definitely help us remember our shared experiences. Post a pic of your relationship memory jar on ourFacebook group.