What do religious books about relationships usually say? “Give it time; God has someone for everyone.” Right Here with You: Bringing Mindful Awareness into Our Relationships is different. It’s a Buddhist—rather than Christian—book. In it, the authors detail ways to actually find someone you’re compatible with. They even lay out a path for you to follow to find peace within yourself so that you may have peace in all of your external relationships (romantic or otherwise). The greatest thing about Right Here, in my opinion, is that the authors don’t ignore the gay community. They not only acknowledge that gay people have relationships, but that we have the same problems as straight couples! Edited by Andrea Miller, Right Here with You is easily one of the best relationship advice books I’ve ever read.
Right Here begins with a section on what to aim for in a relationship. This first section contains five essays which all focus on one aspect of romanticism. From opening your heart to falling in love, the first section of this book is just a primer; it gives us a glimpse of what we can expect in the future.
The second section of Right Here is called “Preparing the Ground.” As the title implies, this section is about getting yourself ready for a relationship. The main focus of this section is learning how to love yourself unconditionally. Several of the contributors for this section provide meditation examples and exercises to help you get to know yourself. The most basic of these exercises is to sit quietly with yourself and to really feel every emotion and thought that rushes over you. I have done meditations similar to this, and I agree that it is the best way to get to know yourself. You cannot spend quality time with anyone (not even yourself) if you are distracted. This section also covers choosing a partner and even has an essay dedicated to the criteria that so many of us go by when choosing partners.
Section Three is called “Being in Relationship.” This section covers dealing with the stress of marriage. It also contains essays about being mindful of your partner. One example of mindfulness given in one of the essays compares mindfulness in a relationship to the mindfulness of eating a baked potato. You try to experience every flavor, but are overwhelmed by memories and emotions. Eventually you lose track of where you began in the first place. “If it’s this challenging to stay in touch with a baked potato,” Erik Hansen asks, “how much harder must it be to clearly perceive the person I love?” Good question.
Erik illustrates his point further by giving an example of his wife. One Sunday, she expects him to help her clean their basement. After becoming frustrated that he is unable to read a book, he surrenders and helps his wife. While he helps her, he begins to actually feel her presence. She’s not just someone standing next to him anymore; she’s a living, breathing human being with her own life, her own goals, and her own will. For once, he is truly aware of his wife. Erik then clarifies that his wife in no way resembles a baked potato.
The remaining sections cover the hard parts of relationships: dealing with disagreements, the loss of love, and their ilk.
Throughout Right Here with You the focus remains on mindfulness. I’m a practicing Buddhist, so this is not a new concept to me. To people who know nothing about Buddhism, mindfulness may seem like just making sure you don’t hurt other people’s feelings. It is, in fact, much more than that! Mindfulness is not taking things for granted. When you are mindful of your surroundings, you know that they are there; you experience them as they are. In America today, we focus so much on the future that we lose sight of right now. Mindfulness is about coming back to now.
I love how this book brings us back to our center. The premise that to have a successful relationship with someone else, you must first have a successful relationship with yourself is an old one, but the premise is true. In my experience, relationships fail because one of the partners in that relationship is trying to fill a void. As a gay man who has tried to hide his sexuality by dating women, I think I stand as a perfect example. Now that I’ve come to accept myself just as I am, I’m finally able to enjoy life. Reading this book has helped pull me back to my center and, now, my relationships with my friends and family (I wish I could add “boyfriend” to that list) are much stronger.
If you’re stuck in a relationship that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, or you’re tired of all the Christian rhetoric that fills many of the relationship advice books out there, I strongly recommend reading this book. It will open you up to a world of new understanding.
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Shambhala (August 9, 2011)
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 8.9 inches
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Tyzzer, G. (2011). Right Here with You. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 2, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/right-here-with-you/0009371
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
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