Day 55: Being With in the Relationship Dojo

I’m going to tell you about a daily practice that Cindy and I have started. It’s not on my current lifestyle challenge chart, but it will be on the one starting on November 4th. It’s a powerful relationship practice, which I’m calling “Being With.”

It starts with Cindy and I sitting down on meditation cushions on the floor, facing each other. I they say, “Alexa, give me a thirty-minute timer,” so that the Amazon Echo in our living room times the practice for us. For the next 30 minutes, we talk to each other.

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Close-up of Cindy’s cushion. Mine is in the background.

We look into each others eyes, and we talk about what is coming up. We notice things that are arising in the moment, such as feelings, or things we notice about ourselves or each other, and we practice sharing them. We practice being curious about each other. We practice understanding each other’s inner worlds.

Sometimes the topic is practical, such as discussing a possible upcoming trip. Other times, we might discuss our feelings about a particular dynamic the happens between us. We focus on talking about what is most alive for us. There are no rules apart from being there physically together, and engaging consciously in this relationship for those thirty minutes.

This is a kind intersubjective meditation. It’s what Cindy does so well for and with her coaching clients. As with solitary meditation, it provides a conscious example for the unconscious mind to follow. Then throughout the day, we find ourselves more engaged relationally, more curious, more expressive, and more fulfilled.

We started doing this because Cindy was feeling that there was not enough intimacy in our relationship. Partly that was because there was not enough sex. I explained in my article yesterday (day 54) how we are dealing with that. But there was also a lack of us being together without our interactions being focused on things other than each other. My personality type, enneagram type three (the achiever), tends to be fixated on activity and success. So even though relationship and deep connection is fundamentally important to me, it tends to be deprioritized in favor of more “pragmatic” activities.

For a while, Cindy had been putting weekly one-on-one meetings between us on our calendar, with the intention of us practicing some kind of being-with exercise. However, since I didn’t appreciate the importance of it, we never got around to actually doing it.

When I get a break from being so driven and focused on productivity, I usually become more aware of how important all my relationships are in general, and I tend to reach out to friends, and be more sociable after ten-day retreats, and also during times when I am practicing meditation diligently. Recently, at a ten-day meditation retreat, as my self-awareness increased, I noticed how important my time spent connecting with Cindy is. I realized that I wanted to have these meetings not just once per week but every single day.

I’m so grateful to Cindy for patiently requesting and waiting for what she wanted, and for my meditation practice, which enables me to listen more patiently and deeply to both her and to myself.

Please experiment with this practice, with your intimate partner (if you have one) or even with a close friend. I’m looking forward to connecting with you again tomorrow.

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Written by

An engineer-psychologist focused on machine intelligence. I write from my own experience to support others in living more fulfilling lives | duncanriach.com

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