Winter Mindfulness Intensive: Cultivating Mindful Relationships

bluebannersmallAs my practice and teaching of mindfulness and yoga evolves, I have become more passionate about joining these practices to my training in clinical psychology to promote health through the direct application of spiritual techniques toward creating a more loving and compassionate society. I have therefore chosen January-March as a time to focus on mindfulness and relationships. With the start of a New Year, it is the perfect time to reflect and develop positive relationship skills to evolve our relationships toward a greater experience of love and freedom.  I believe in the sacred nature of interpersonal relationships and the power of intimacy as a transformative and spiritual path. My sense is that the health of human relationships plays a vital role in shaping modern culture and society. Whether it is a romantic partnership, business relationship, or the relationship between nations- mindfulness can provide a set of skills and awaken a wisdom that promotes health. The Buddhist psychologist, John Welwood, once wrote that “in a relationship … we cannot avoid having to face all our rough edges. Intimate person-to-person contact also stirs up a whole range of unsettling feelings, along with all our fears, going back to childhood, about love, power, abandonment, betrayal, engulfment, and a host of other interpersonal threats.” John candidly gives voice to some of my own challenges in relationships and I am sure most others resonate with these kinds of experiences as well. Mindfulness in its ability to awaken witness consciousness, in its power to provide us the ability to be still among waves of emotion, in its ability to bring physiological harmony and homeostasis seems to be a perfect practice to transform old, unhealthy, habitual relationship patterns and to lay down a vital foundation for wholeness. Psychological science lends support to these ideas as well.

In 2007, Karen Wachs & James Cordova published a study in the JOURNAL OF MARITAL AND FAMILY THERAPY suggesting that couples who practice mindfulness may be more likely to experience increased relationship health and stability, increased satisfaction and affectionate behavior and a deepened sense of inter-partner harmony on a number of life issues. In particular, they noted that mindfulness appeared to be associated with enhanced emotional skills in the areas of empathy, emotional identification and communication, and a more skillful experience of anger. The researchers especially felt that decreases in impulsivity and hostility surrounding the experience of anger was of particular importance and decreased anger reactivity appeared to mediate the relationship between mindfulness and relationship quality.

If you are seeking positive relationships in the New Year, or hoping to heighten your capacity for self-awareness, compassion, or to be able to offer and receive love with more freedom and grace, or maybe you are just seeking spiritual community or getting healthy, then our Tuesday night mindfulness Sangha may very well be the right place for you to come and practice. Check out the details below:

At the end of January, we will begin a nine week mindfulness journey focused on applying mindfulness in relationships. This class will be based on a book by David Richo called “How to be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving.” The Tuesday night weekly class themes are as follows. Class is from 6:45pm – 8:45pm.


2/4 – Week One – Getting Rooted in Mindfulness

Week Two – Mindfulness and Love

Week Three – Mindfulness in Relationship

Week Four – Mindfulness and Romance

Week Five – Mindfulness in Times of Conflict

Week Six – Being Mindful through Challenge & Disappointment

Week Seven – Mindfulness and Letting Go of Ego

Week Eight – Mindfulness and Loss

Week Nine – Deepening Commitment

The book is required reading for the course. You do not need to currently be in a relationship to take the class. It is helpful for partners to take the class together and to complete the exercises in the book. No previous experience with mindfulness is required. It is possible to drop-in on specific topics, however, participants should be committed to attending all sessions and completing the weekly assignments. Mindfulness is a daily practice and as such requires compassionate discipline to the path of meditation; an essential ingredient on the path is showing up for practice. Many students find group membership to be a critical component in establishing a daily practice and to feel supported on their life path.

Class Structure:

6:45pm – Opening meditation

7:00pm – Group check-in

7:15pm – Didactic and Discussion

8:00pm – Mindfulness Meditation

8:35pm – Closing

$275-$315* sliding scale/person for all sessions

$18-$38 sliding scale drop-in single session

$495-$565 for couples

Limited Enrollment – it is advisable to sign up ahead of time.

*a limited number of scholarships are available to students who demonstrate financial need. Please be sure to purchase the book ahead of time as assignments will be given on the first day of class.

Enrollment Instructions: To be enrolled, please contact John at 650-930-0170 or sign up with him at one of his public yoga classes.

Location: Blue Elephant Yoga & Mindfulness Ctr. 744 San Antonio Rd. Ste. 19B Palo Alto, CA 94303