Sunday, September 22, 2013

Couple Meditation

In my last post, I gave you some links for learning to meditate, but I haven’t been able to find a good link for couple meditation that includes practical tips and isn’t loaded down with religious language, so here's a brief description.

The purpose of couple meditation is to create a sense of calm, relaxation, trust, and communion between the partners. It can be as simple as doing your normal meditation side-by-side, facing each other, back-to-back, spooned front-to-back, or “zigzag” (side-by-side, but facing in opposite directions), but with your awareness consciously extended to include your partner.

Tip:   Don’t jump into couple meditation until you have some skill with normal meditation. Otherwise, trying to expand your awareness to include someone else will just keep you from being able to meditate at all.

Although most couples meditate in facing positions, I do recommend at least trying back-to-back a few times after you have gotten comfortable with meditating with each other. In the absence of vision, your hearing and sense of touch are both enhanced when you concentrate on your partner, and you will find that backs can be astonishingly expressive!

Adapt these positions however you like so that the two of you are comfortable. Here are some suggestions you can experiment with:

Facing position – Sit with your knees touching, or with one person's knees inbetween the other person's knees. Place your right hand palm up, resting both on your right knee and your partner’s left knee, then place your left hand palm up in your partner’s right hand.

Side-by-side – If you’re sitting on a bench, just sit comfortably close, so that your arms touch; spread your knees a little bit, if necessary, so your knees touch too. If you’re sitting cross-legged on the floor or a mat, turn just enough away from each other so that you touch at shoulder, hip, and thigh. Depending on your proportions, the shorter partner may need to sit a few inches further forward so that your shoulders overlap instead of bumping.

Zigzag – Face in opposite directions so that you touch hip to knee and thigh to thigh; rest your inside forearm somewhere comfortable on your partner’s thigh, and rest your other hand on your knee or in your lap. Or, if you are sitting zigzag on a bench with your hips touching, extend your inside arm across your partner’s lap and curl your hand around a convenient part of the opposite hip.

As you meditate, make your partner your focus. Watch or feel their breathing. Listen to it and feel how naturally the two of you begin to synchronize your breaths. Feel the tiny changes in tension and pressure in the hands, the small swaying of the trunk in response to the breath, the tiny motions of the hands and head that result from the pulse. Relax and go inward, until you can feel your own pulse. As you settle into the meditation, your hearts, too, will probably fall into matching rhythms.

For closer contact, have the shorter or slimmer partner sit in front of the other between his or her legs, so that you are touching back to front. If desired, you can each place your hands palm up on your partner’s thighs or knees. For even closer contact, lie on your sides facing each other, with your arms around each other.

You can also do couple meditation with one person sitting astride the other’s lap (in the position often called yab-yum), provided you are at least partly clothed. Sitting yab-yum naked is best saved for a completely different kind of couple meditation, which we’ll talk about later.


Humans are extremely sensitive to each other’s posture. If you watch couples at a cafĂ©, you can tell a great deal about their relationship by how closely they mirror each other’s posture. Especially during the most intense stage of courtship, two people who are strongly attracted to each other will usually be almost perfectly in synch and the positions of their body will be almost exact copies or mirror images of each other.

To a surprising extent, our emotions are affected by our bodies, as well as vice versa. The path between mind and body goes both ways. Being happy makes you smile, but smiling can also make you happy. In the same way, putting yourself in synch physically with your partner also helps bring you into greater synch with them mentally and emotionally. In addition, we get pleasure from mirroring and being mirrored by our partner, especially if they are physically close to us. Lab studies show that mirroring can raise the level of bonding hormones almost as much as cuddling does.

Subconsciously we feel greater trust for someone when they remain very close to us for an extended period and do nothing dangerous, threatening, or uncontrolled. For this reason, it is important to remain very calm and move slowly and carefully and as gracefully as possible when beginning or ending a couple meditation. If you spend 10-20 minutes getting in synch with your partner and building bonds of trust and affection, you can wipe all of that out in half a second by lurching abruptly to your feet – especially if you make your partner duck away from a wild elbow or knee!

A standing hug is always in order after meditating!

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