The excitement, hope and sense of possibility that accompanies a new romantic relationship can be intoxicating. When we meet someone with whom we deeply connect we feel butterflies and excitement. We feel like we’re floating on a cloud and we experience bliss and euphoria…and then the mind kicks in. With all of its questions and fears and desire to control. With the attachment to outcome and “what if’s”, the catastrophizing and mind-reading and before we know it, we’ve driven ourselves absolutely insane.
So what does Buddhism have to say about all of this? How can we apply principles from Buddhist psychology and yoga to help us navigate the beginning stages of a new relationship and avoid self-sabotaging? Read on to find out.
- Remember Who You Really Are
We all fall into the trap of overidentifying with the ego/mind (synonyms I use interchangeably). My mind believes that “I am Rachel” and contains various stories about who Rachel is. Who I really am, however, is far greater than the mind. In fact, who you really are is beyond your mind’s comprehension. It is a place within you that is intuition, a deep knowing that often comes from the heart or gut. When you start to freak out about your insecurities or shortcomings, what you can or can’t offer a partner, remember that all of those stories are simply that – stories that your mind has created, all of which obscure the truth of who you are…the Light behind your eyes.
- Allow the Ego to Say What It Wants to Say
The mind is always trying to detect possible threats. The mind is just doing its job when it starts to chatter loudly about control and fear: it believes that in doing so, it can protect us from potential danger. The brain is literally wired to have a negativity bias so that any possible threat to our survival can be detected. It is not concerned with our happiness or well-being. That being said, don’t resist the thoughts that your mind secretes. You can’t stop those thoughts from generating, but you can choose how you relate to all the mind chatter. Do you believe the noise in your head? Do you automatically do what the mind tells you to do? Or do you find space between who you really are and your thoughts? Which leads me to my next point…
- Rule Your Mind
The Buddha said “Rule your mind or it will rule you”. When we operate on auto-pilot, when we have yet to awaken to the Truth of who we really are, we are at the mercy of our minds. Like zombies, we simply react to every and any thought we have, no matter how loving or cruel they may be. New relationships are rife with questions, triggers and insecurities: we don’t know how things will turn out, and the situation gives the mind fertile ground to plant seeds of fear and doubt. Don’t let it rule you! Remember that you have a choice when it comes to entertaining the thoughts in your head or simply letting them be, allowing it all to float by like clouds in the sky.
- Breathe, Meditate and Stay Grounded in Your Highest Self
When the mind begins to spiral out of control, Buddhism and yoga offer us wonderful techniques to help us remain centered and grounded in Light and Love. Use the breath as an anchor to the present moment. Come back to the here and now, do a body scan or ground yourself in your senses – ask yourself what you see/smell/hear/taste/feel in this moment, wherever you are. Meditate, go on a walk or do yoga – anything that will help you quiet the mind and remain calm is key!
- Surrender, Let Go and Enjoy the Ride!
Finally, it comes down to a leap of faith. Ultimately, we can detach from our thoughts as much as we want but the reality is that new relationships can bring up a lot of emotions for people. Putting yourself out there and allowing yourself to be seen by another person is an incredibly vulnerable and therefore courageous thing to do, so try to relax into it and flow with the energy of life. We can’t control the outcome so try to detach from the mind’s need for things to go a certain way.
***Important disclaimer. All five of the aforementioned steps require the same foundation: faith. Ultimately, being in a new relationship is a brave and scary thing to do! The truth is, we can’t actually predict how things will work out…we do know, however, that “everything that has a beginning, has an ending” (as the Buddha said). We can remember the nature of impermanence and try our best to simply enjoy the ride, rather than obsess about the destination. Because in the end, those things are actually the same: the journey is the destination. You’re already here, so experience love and life to the fullest and trust that you are strong enough to handle whatever comes your way!