Five Mindfulness Trainings for Dating and Relationships

Adapted from The Five Mindfulness Trainings from the Plum Village Mindfulness Practice Center 

by Sarika Jain

The Five Mindfulness Trainings for Dating and Relationships is a vision for women (and men) to find and cultivate partnership in a way that honors and nourishes self, other and interbeingness.

Dating is a unique opportunity and privilege for modern women and men to grow as individuals, embrace human values such as kindness, generosity, have meaningful experiences with both the masculine and feminine, and ultimately make a courageous, compassionate and conscious choice about a partner that is appropriate for them.

Choosing a life partner is one of the most important and vital decisions one can make, for both each other and the people connected to the two. When two people come together in sacred union, two lineages are merged through the two. The happiness of an entire society is dependent on this basic unit of the social fabric; much as a fractal is created from one single crystal.

It is helpful to print this out, and recite this at least once a week, whether you are single and dating or in a new relationship.

1. Reverence for Life

 Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life within individuals and societies, I am committed to cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion and learning ways to mitigate suffering I may cause during the process of dating.

I am aware that each person, including myself, shares a universal set of needs and feelings, no matter our background or upbringing. Each of us feels fear, pain and joy, and have basic human desires to give and receive love in a meaningful way. Each person is on their own self-realization path, at their own pace and capacity, and may express their fears and desires differently.

I am committed to reduce pain through my thoughts – including my own thinking and judgement about myself and others. I vow to speak and act with integrity, wisdom and mindfulness. Each interaction I have with an individual, whether it’s through technology or in-person, no matter how long or short, is an opportunity to practice mindfulness, honesty, kindness, acceptance, respect and compassion. Each person I relate to is impacted by me, and me, by them. I vow to not take anything personally, have skill and wisdom in my communication and actions, set healthy boundaries, speak my truth mindfully and create space for the other to do the same, and to enter into relationships that are healthy and nourishing for both individuals.

2. True Happiness

Aware of the suffering caused by vanity, exploitation, unskillful behavior and unwholesome power dynamics, I am committed to practicing generosity in my thinking, speaking and acting. I am determined to accept with grace, share in my own way of contribution to those I date, and not expect the other to overextend themselves through money, energy, time and resources or act against their will. I am committed to giving and receiving mindfully in a way that nourishes myself, and the other.

I will practice looking deeply to see that the happiness and suffering of others is not separate from my own happiness and suffering; that true happiness is not possible without forgiveness, understanding and compassion; and that running after wealth, status, fame, power, security and sensual pleasures can bring so much suffering and despair.

I am aware that happiness depends on my mental attitude and not on external conditions, and that I can live happily in the present moment simply by remembering that I already have more than enough conditions to be happy.

I am committed to practicing Self Love and Self Care, so that I can transmit joy, presence and a sense of well being, and help reduce the suffering of my relationships and reverse personal, family and ancestral trauma.

3. True Love

Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of myself, my partners, my community, family and society.

Knowing that sexual desire is not love, and that sexual activity motivated by craving always harms myself as well as others, I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without love and respect for myself and the other, and with deep awareness of the intentions of each, and consequences for the sexual interaction.

I vow to stay committed to cultivating true love and a healthy sexual relationship with a partner with the intention to explore a deep, long-term commitment made known to my friends and family.

I will do everything in my power to protect myself and others from sexual misconduct and abuse. Seeing that the body and mind are one, I am committed to learning appropriate ways to take care of my sexual energy and cultivating loving kindness, compassion, joy, equanimity /inclusiveness, which are the four basic elements of true love – for my greater happiness and the greater happiness of others.

4. Loving Speech and Deep Listening

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and compassionate listening in order to relieve suffering and to promote reconciliation in myself and among other people. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to speaking truthfully using words that inspire joy, confidence and hope. Aware that relationships thrive on affection, attention, acceptance, appreciation and approval, I will speak and listen in a way that nourishes myself and the other. I vow to practice presence with the other, such as putting away my technology devices and avoiding other distracting devices.

I am committed to seeing, hearing and speaking with others mindfully and with full presence, and using text, e-mail and other technology merely as an enabler of connection, but not as a replacement. True joy and intimacy is cultivated through shared reality and creating safe emotional, physical, mental and spaces for both to express oneself honestly, vulnerably and without judgement.

When anger is manifesting in me, I am determined not to speak. I will practice mindful breathing, self empathy and mindful walking in order to recognize and look deeply into my anger. I know the roots of anger can be found in my wrong perceptions and lack of understanding of the suffering within myself and the other person. I will speak and listen in a way that can help myself and the other person transform suffering and see the way out of difficult situations.

I am determined not to spread news I do not know to be certain and not to utter words that can cause division and discord. I will practice Right Diligence to nourish my capacity for understanding, love, joy and inclusiveness, and gradually transform anger, violence and fear that lie deep in my consciousness.

5. Nourishment and Healing

Aware of suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my partners, friends, family and society by practicing mindful eating, drinking and consuming. I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition and consciousness. I am determined not to gamble, or to use drugs, alcohol or other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, TV programs, films, video games, books and conversations. I will nourish myself through means of Buddha, dharma, sangha, healthy food, exercise, nature, limiting electronic stimulation, rest, mindfulness practices, good relationships and other heart-healthy activities. I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, nourishing and healing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear or craving pull me out of the present moment. I am determined not to cover up loneliness, anxiety or other suffering by losing myself in consumption or unwholesome and compulsive dating practices. I will contemplate interbeing and consume in a way that preserves peace, joy and well-being in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth.