The Mind, Body, and Soul of Relationships: A Holistic Approach to Connection (Episode 319)
If you're a more holistic family like we are, you are probably well aware of the concept of functional medicine, and the mind, body, and soul approach to looking at your health. And if you're getting my emails, you know my idea of the whole-life approach of functional education. What if you take this same idea to your most intimate relationship (and beyond) to look at a mind, body, and soul connection with each other?
Functional Medicine and Education
So a quick little recap on these two topics here. I strongly believe in functional medicine. The core premise is that our body is an interconnected system made up of complex parts - and that includes looking at the mind, body, and soul aspects of who you are.
Since your best work and impact in this world is by knowing yourself well, looking at all these aspects is critical. We don't look at a band-aid approach to life. We want to look at the root cause. Typically when someone is lamenting, "Why is this always happening to me?" There is a valuable lesson that can be learned on the other side of it.
First and foremost, we always prioritize looking inward first. And if you want to foster a beautiful relationship with the one(s) you love, start by addressing your own mind, body, and soul connection.
As you look at the deeper roots of why you act - and react - the way you do to life, it opens the door to functional education. Functional education is a whole-life approach to learning. It's a growth mindset to the highest level, recognizing this key thing element:
Yes, the world is our school, and everyone is our teacher. We have the opportunity to learn and grow from every interaction if we choose to see it that way. Even if it's simply learning what we don't want!
Learning doesn't stop at graduation, or outside of a classroom. We are learning right alongside our children, and intend to continue that our whole lives.
The Functional Relationship
A listener question was about how we support each other as parents and create a unified front. We thought this worked best as a two-part series, so before we address co-parenting (next week), we want to get to the core - much like these "functional" concepts I'm addressing here!
A "functional relationship" sure doesn't sound glamorous or romantic. How about we switch it to "intentional" instead? Just like functional medicine and education, the goal is to look at all aspects of a relationship, and it's helpful to do this with a mind, body, and soul approach.
Get intentional about the time you spend together, and look at each of these areas for intentional connection.
When it comes to the mind, how much do we connect mentally with our partners? Are you willing to challenge your partner on their own growth? I know just this week Nathan pushed me on the workout routine I was slacking on and I gave him a nudge to put down the phone and grab a book again. Can you two take feedback from each other with the trust you are looking out for each other and encouraging growth?
Do you still play "21 Questions" with each other and ask about different perspectives and interests? I know my viewpoints and desires have changed a ton over the years since Nathan and I first got together.
How often do you compliment each other? We have a negativity bias in life, and that can cause us to hold onto that one criticism despite a shower of compliments. That's why that bucket always seems to have space for another word of encouragement.
Are you affirming and building each other up? Are you polite with one another? When was the last time you gave them a genuine compliment beyond "thanks for being you", or affirmed something specific, like "I've really noticed your hard work on healing your past wounds and creating some new habits - and I love seeing more lightness in your step and more peace in your face."
Do you thank them for all they do to support you and how they show up as a good roommate in the house? I love this Instagram reel I shared with the family recently - I believe in us all helping around the house to support the home environment we want to cultivate - together. Not just "helping mom's agenda."
Are you really connected to your body? The way it feels, what you're putting into it (keep this in mind for everything from the food we eat to what we choose to listen to) and you trust your physical skill and intuition?
Sometimes, we're super disconnected to our bodies, and that trickles over to our intimate relationships. If we don't love our bodies, how can we allow another to? So you cover up and avoid the mirror, and all the while, you're shutting out more than your own body connection; you're shutting out that part of you from your relationship.
Who wants to make love to a shell that doesn't go any deeper than the surface? What feels better when making love - going through the motions, or feeling that orgasm of ecstasy when your mind is 100% focused on the feelings within?
And on the flip side, are you super in tune with your body, so much so that you're oblivious to the needs of your partner? Are you just vibing on your own jam and not really acknowledging the other?
The 60-Second Hug
This is an exercise I've used for coaching clients to create an intentional touch for families. I've recommended it for touched-out mamas as a way to be proactive and give some touch so her whole family feels some love first thing in the morning and can give her more space.
And I've used it for partners to help establish a time of non-sexual touch with no agendas beyond connection. Sometimes couples can get stuck in a rut where the only touch they have is sexual, so a tired mama may snub her hubby of any touch because she's too tired to go "all the way." Holding each other for 60 seconds with that being the only focus can feel absolutely wonderful and prompt you both to simply pause and be in the moment.
Again, the reminder here is to look inward first. Are you willing to be vulnerable and admit when you've messed up, or need help?
Do you stuff everything in, hoping if you don't face it, it'll go away, and then suffer from headaches, breakouts, digestive issues, brain fog, depression, or more?
Or do you deny the feeling entirely, blocking it out until one day it overwhelms you and the dam bursts and you explode when someone triggers you at your empty point?
In Atlas of the Heart, Brené Brown blew me away with quite a few insights that are important to bring up here. First, she admits she got her theory wrong. As a devout researcher her whole life, it's important she has grace for growth, and she's willing to pivot her perspective.
We change through different seasons of our lives as things and people shift and fade, and we learn how to adapt and move forward. Are we willing to confess when we got it wrong, or do we stick to our guns because it's the way it always was?
And secondly, Brené stresses to not be a steward of someone else's story. A very different approach from before, where her focus was on empathy, and stewarding someone's story! Yet now she recognizes that with so many complex feelings and emotions in our souls, only you can truly tell your story.
Do you create space for your partner to create their story, or do you write it for them? What are they worried, excited, or curious to learn more about?
You CAN Multitask!
Yes, this is a time to multitask - there are many ways you can incorporate mind, body, and soul in an intentional connection with the one you love - and use this same concept even beyond that.
- Go for a walk and check in with your partner's well-being (Body and Soul)
- Snuggle up together and either read out loud to each other or simply read next to each other (Mind and Body)
- Dream together, and go deep behind the motivators for those dreams (Soul and Mind)
This week, address the mind, body, and soul aspects of getting in touch with yourself and your most intimate partner.
Here are some ideas to reignite a spark:
- Mind - share about books you're reading, something you're interested in, or play a trivia game together. Make it a point to give a compliment or word of appreciation on something specific every day, starting today.
- Body - Every time you see 11:11 or some other mono-digit combo on a clock, stop what you're doing and kiss each other. Or, try the 60-second hug challenge every morning this week, starting tomorrow.
- Soul - Go back to some of those questions you asked one another when you first met. How would you answer now? Have your perspectives changed since then? Dream together and share your deepest desires.
Foster some intentional connection to this relationship to take it beyond "functional" to the deeper meaning behind all of these functions - to embrace the beauty that makes up each of us in our mind, body, and soul. And we can embrace the beauty we each bring to the table, where the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us.