The Other as a Mirror

By Isabel Galiardo
The only way to overcome the vicious cycles we create in our relationships is to understand that our partner is mirroring our shadow aspects. By this, I mean our blind spots, aspects of ourselves that we are not aware of, as they are avoided because they somehow create pain and contradict our self-image.
It is good to know that our relationships serve the purpose of healing the old wounds that we carry inside of ourselves. Our partner is not responsible for fixing, rescuing or saving us but he/she can contribute immensely to our growth. How? By giving us the opportunity to look at our own ‘reflection’ in the dynamics we create together. In order to experience our partner as a mirror, we need to shift from a codependent relationship to a mindful one.
We can use conflict as an opportunity to get to know ourselves better, to understand the disowned members of our internal family and welcome them. If I don’t accept my neediness it is likely that I will judge the other when he/she is dependent and vulnerable. If I have a strong need for pleasing people in order to feel loved and included I will get frustrated and let them down when their behaviour is not reciprocated.
Being in a conscious relationship requires paying attention and staying present. It is as if all of a sudden we become detectives of our own psyches. We follow the clues. We shift from autopilot to a mindful state. In order to do so, we can start by bringing our awareness to our bodies when we react to a comment, or to our partner’s behaviour. By acknowledging that a trigger can activate our wounds but most of the times are not the real cause of our painful emotion, we learn to stay in touch with whatever arises without immediately reacting. This choice implies the willingness to embark on a journey of self-inquiry that refers to oneself again and again rather than pointing our finger at the other. Instead of blaming the other person for our feelings, we own them. This allows us to express assertively rather than judgmentally and listen openly without having to go into defence mode.
‘’We want to be loved in a very particular way, one that soothes our emotional wounds from the past.’’ John Welwood

I Just Need Some Space

by Helen Williams

As a couples’ therapist, my experience is that “I just need some space”, has always been a well-worn phrase, often used by couples to describe their need to escape from each other.  Commonly it brings fear to the partner hearing it because it infers that something is wrong with their relationship, that being apart may create greater distance and bring the relationship to an end.

Parents often use the same phrase to describe their need for some timeout from 24-hour childcare, even though this may be the life we have chosen, it can at times become all-consuming and separates us from the essence of ourselves.  Finding that space, even if only briefly, can bring us a sense of welcome reconnection to our own sense of wellbeing.

Children too need to be given the space to be, without direction, without guidance and without the interference of their parents, siblings or other children.  Teaching children the importance of time out for themselves to replenish is a very healthy way of teaching independence and self-hood.

The need for space is deeply inherent within all of us and when used well, finding and giving ourselves some space becomes the way we can discover the deeper connection and relationship with our own inner knowing that intuitively we are all searching for. Needing space is another way of describing our need to connect with the core of ourselves – to rest, restore, revitalise, repair and relax into the sense that we can be held, supported and released from our busyness and the pressure of stress.

Mindful ME are delighted to offer retreat experiences that enable a connection to your own inner voice.  Our retreats are designed to de-stress, unwind and bring clarity and calm. Our trusted team of professionals have the knowledge, training, and experience to provide this. Learn more about our retreats here or contact us to book. 

Marathons, Mindfulness and Love

by Helen Williams

Recently I spent several days exploring the absolute beauty of the city of Prague, walking the old streets, attending recitals and concerts in the stunning beauty of historic churches and cathedrals, and enjoying excellent and abundant food!  However, what actually moved me to tears and encourages me now to write was the lived experience of ‘stumbling’ by accident upon thousands of runners participating in the Prague Marathon.

I stopped to watch and simply couldn’t tear myself away.  Found myself moved to tears and wondered why?  I don’t run!!  Not even to the nearest lamp post!  And yet here I was completely absorbed by the energy of it all, watching these runners labouring hard, intent on their next step, aware of their bodies, the noticeable pain on some faces, their heaving chests and sweating bodies, all present in the moment.

I wandered on and found myself at the 32 km mark, hordes of people cheering, yelling, clapping and encouraging the runners – multitudes of languages spoken, but all in the language of enthusiasm, support, caring and encouragement.

And then it struck me!  I am feeling so deeply touched by all the caring that surrounds me on all sides.  People sending loving, considered encouragement to each other, all at one with the purpose in front of them – to run their best for themselves and for their teams.

Such a spirit of unity and connectedness is deeply moving to be a part of.  I stood there for nearly 2 hours and enjoyed every moment of it.

This is Mindful awareness at its best.

Mindfulness is Heartfulness

by Helen Williams

I love this drawing! I love how it shows the brain leaping into the arms of the waiting heart. I love how it shows the heart, anchored to the trapeze bar with arms outstretched, welcoming the thinking mind. In my experience this is what the essence of Mindfulness Practice brings us.

People often speak of not having the courage to trust themselves, of a deep fear and distrust towards their own selves. Yet on the deepest level of our being, we are driven by a yearning to be known. To be able to leap into the warm, welcoming open arms of a waiting heart and to feel safe, wanted, to know that we belong, we matter, that we can be held.

Mindfulness Practice, through the use of attention to our breath and the present moment, allows us to begin this slow, gentle, persistent journey into our own waiting heart. As we learn over time to open into ourselves, to experience our inner knowing, and to accept ourselves as we are, we realize we are not our thoughts. We are wholehearted, open, wise, knowing awareness, centred within our heart. With Mindfulness, we begin this journey of self trust, of coming home to the heart of ourselves.

It takes practice, patience, determination and community, to help us connect to ourselves and to each other fearlessly, but many wonderful people have told me over the years that practicing mindfulness has completely changed their lives and the image above explains how perfectly. The understanding that I am not my thoughts has helped them to leap into a new experience of the heart of themselves, bringing a calmer perspective to their daily lives. In the beginning, it can feel every bit as risky as swinging off a trapeze, yet learning to accept ourselves as we are, answers our deepest longing to be known. At Mindful ME we don’t offer lessons in trapeze artistry!! We do, however, offer a sincere, openhearted community and a very warm welcome to come exploring Mindfulness with us.

Expore Mindfulness Practice with Helen on Monday nights from 7pm – 9pm. Contact us to register or for more information.

The Geography of our Love Maps

by Isabel Galiardo

When we love, our whole past rises up to our soul and resounds in it again. That is why love has such a high healing potential because by loving consciously we can heal our old wounds.

We carry an invisible love-map inside of us. It was designed in our early years when we absorbed all sorts of messages about love through our own experience of it. By the time we reached adolescence we had integrated a large number of assumptions, fears, preconceived ideas and expectations about the matter.

These beliefs define the type of personality that attracts us and the dynamics we create in our relationships. A belief is not just a thought, it is a whole cosmogony, it is the way I perceive myself and the world around me.

Because they are ingrained in our subconscious mind we believe blindly in them, they are absolute truths that rule our lives.They keep us repeating old familiar patterns all over again.

Notions such as:

’”I do not deserve to be loved, I’m not good enough.’’

” I can not be alone, I would not survive. ”

“I’m afraid of commitment, I do not want to be controlled.”

” If I trust and open up, they will hurt me again. “

When we learn to explore our feelings with openness and curiosity we realize they are clues to the geography of our love maps. And that is when the magical shift occurs, we begin to take ownership of our happiness and wellbeing instead of expecting our partners to do so for us.

Book individual sessions with Isabel by emailing info@mindfulme.me or contacting us. You can also join Helen and Isabel’s Couples, Communication and Codependency workshop to explore love maps and more.

An Unusually Common Couple’s Communication Issue

by Helen Williams

When I’m working with couples, I often have the opportunity of watching their ‘couple talk” – their typical and most common way of addressing each other.   I get to notice a very familiar pattern which appears to creep in unnoticed for many, many couples and yet often becomes the deep wound which brings couples seeking help.

They name it as a “communication issue” but seldom have the words to adequately explain it.  Women will say “I feel like I’m never heard” and men will say “I can never do anything right.”

This is how it typically plays out:

Most often it is the woman who says, “You never listen to me, you never spend enough time with me, you never notice me and you treat me like I don’t matter.”

When I ask the male partner what he heard her say, he usually replies, “It doesn’t matter what I do it’s never good enough, I’m continually criticised and told off, I feel like I can never get it right.”

If you look at it, it sounds like a complainer talking to a fix it person.  For many men, a woman asking for attention sounds like a person with a problem requiring fixing.  Yet, if you ask the woman, she will often say I don’t want to be fixed or repaired or solved like a problem, I just need you to listen to me.

The main reason why it appears impossible for her partner to listen to her is simply the use of the word, YOU!

Try the same conversation again now after eliminating the use of the word you.

“I feel unheard. I’d love us to spend more time together, I need to be noticed, I’m often lonely.”

The reply can be more easily, “I didn’t realise, how can we change this?” because there is less criticism, censure and judgment when there is no YOU.

Why not take note of this in your daily conversation and make a change for clearer, more open communication?  Write yourselves a sign that says NO YOU and place it on the fridge. It works well with children too!

Learning to Love

I admit I have been searching for love ever since I can remember. I have looked for it in novels, in movies, in friendship, in romantic partners, in motherhood and in my spiritual quest. After years of searching I have come to the conclusion that it is the true purpose of our existence.

I believe this planet is nothing but a school of love. Our biographical events are different scenarios for learning about love. Throughout our lives we experience all sorts of vicissitudes and adventures, ups and downs, crises and ecstasies that help us explore love in its most diverse manifestations.

I have suffered the absence of love and love’s betrayal. I have suffered from unrequited love and the fear of losing it, and each one of these experiences has taught me something about myself and my capacity to love. Every conflict, every disappointment, has given me the opportunity to discover more about my wounds, my insecurities and my lack of self love. The pain and the need for answers have brought me to my inner search, widening my heart and making it more encompassing.

When we love we become vulnerable and exposed and that is when life penetrates and teaches us. Through our relationships we learn to love more and better. We develop our ability to give, to expand our own boundaries and to conquer our own demons. Love chisels us, shapes us, polishes us.

As the poet Gibran says:

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.

Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.

Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,

so shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Isabel works with couples and individuals. If you would like to book a private session with Isabel please contact us today.