Harmonious Relationships: How to Stay Happy and Healthy in Your Relationships

A photo of a couple holding hands, only the hands are visible in the frame

How Can Yoga Help Your Relationship?

Most of us wish to maintain a healthy relationship with the people around us so that we live in harmony. However, learning how to stay happy in a relationship can be challenging at times. While not all relationships are meant to last, it is possible to avoid some of the common pitfalls that can throw any relationship off track and cause unhappiness. Being happy in a relationship can take some work, but the results are well worth it.

The Yog Circle | Happy and healthy relationship

The Role of Mindfulness

Bringing mindfulness to your relationship allows you to work with the inevitable difficulties and disappointments that arise. As you bring mindfulness to your relationship, you begin to see that the mind endlessly grasps after things, and clings to expectations. Love and affection are easily forgotten amidst such hindrances. The mind can so cling to images of how things are supposed to be, that “what is” is never explored as a chance for deepening love.

You can use mindfulness to stay present in a relationship and to acknowledge “what is” rather than what your ego wants to be true. Your practice can help you avoid defensiveness and getting caught in fear, and help you give up being controlled by your needs. When the partnership model fails, it is because one or both partners aren’t in touch with their own emotions or because of unrealistic expectations. The relationship deteriorates into dysfunctional cynicism, and bargaining takes over as both partners try to protect themselves.

The Yog Circle | The Role of Mindfulness in Relationships

Spiritual Grounding

Being more grounded in your spiritual practice provides the strength and awareness to cope with all of these problems. Worked mindfully, relationships become a vessel to help you travel deeper into yourself and, in time, to become more self-contained and less fearful or needy.

Bring awareness to the situation.

Become the observer of your thoughts, your emotions, your needs, and your ego.

The Relationship With Yourself: the 4 Immeasurables of Patanjali and Self-Love

The most important relationship in your life: is your relationship with yourself. Although loving yourself may sound like a simple matter, many of us often exhibit a lack of it. By embracing the 4 Immeasurable as discussed in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, we have a wonderful support system that encourages positive attitudes and behaviors to create a fulfilling relationship towards the self and others. These are maitri, karuna, mudita, and upeksha: loving-kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. Patanjali suggests that we cultivate friendship toward the happy, compassion toward the miserable, goodwill toward the virtuous, and indifference toward those who are sinful. They are a practical means by which the individual may step out of his narrow individuality to realize the larger oneness of life. It seems clear that Patanjali expects the practice of yoga to be carried far beyond the yoga mat. In Chapter 1.33 of the Yog Sutra, Patanjali gives us a four-part process to help us clear our hearts of negative energies in relationships.

The Yog Circle | Self-love

Love yourself to love your life!

maitri karuna mudita upeksanam sukha duhkha punya apunya visayanam bhavanatas citta prasadanam

This statement by Patañjali shows us how we can eliminate our misconceptions by developing these traits in ourselves. On closer scrutiny, we see that these traits are also crucial for any successful relationship.

  • maitrī means loving acceptance of others. No human relationship is possible without this. If we manifest hate rather than love toward the other, the relationship will end. Instead of being jealous, we should be happy for other people’s happiness. Rather than living with mental scarcity thinking one person’s happiness will cause us to run out of happiness we must appreciate their joy, realizing the potential for all of us to be happy at the same time. By cultivating friendship toward the happy, we learn what it is to be happy and content with what is.
  • karuṇā means compassion. Compassion for those who are in pain, those who are suffering including yourself. The practice means no longer self-sabotaging oneself but instead learning how to self-comfort. It implies you see yourself as deserving of compassion. By cultivating compassion toward the miserable we can see our own miserableness. This applies outwardly as well, that we cannot be selective to be compassionate but it is universal and unconditional.
  • mudita means joy. It’s enjoyable to spend time with people who exhibit these traits. Respect, admiration, and honor for those who embody noble qualities. In practice, this means eliminating envy towards those who are living honorable lives. We must genuinely celebrate their achievements. This reminds us that we can be inspired by others’ greatness to then be inspiring. We all have innate greatness. Practicing goodwill toward the virtuous can help us to overcome our natural tendency toward jealousy.
  • upekṣa means equanimity. In any relationship, you’re bound to notice a trait in the other person that’s not to your liking. Neutrality comes in handy in such situations. Equanimity towards those who hurt us. Peacefulness towards those whose actions oppose our values. Instead of choosing the “like” button or even the “dislike” button choose neutral. There will be some people who purposefully will try to harm you or the people you love. Your choice is not to engage them in a fight. You can simply stop struggling. This is where the idea of “would you rather be right or be happy” comes from. Indifference toward the sinful keeps us from judging and hating others.

These four basic traits nurture each other, which means that developing one helps to develop all the others.

Patanjali considers relationships important and relevant to spiritual evolution. So, he gives us the guidelines to nurture our attitude toward others to have a harmonious state of mind in all our relationships.

Let’s be honest, being human guarantees that we will all be hurt in a relationship. Nonetheless, it’s essential to put in the effort to heal within relationships.

Love yourself to love your life!

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