There are many reasons to start meditating regularly. It can improve your yoga practice, clear your mind of work-related stress, and even help you get the most out of your favorite workout. But, we have a feeling that you never thought of adopting a regular ommm session to ease the stresses of planning a wedding. Think about it. Wedding planning is no easy feat. Finding time to zen out is critical during one of the busiest and admittedly chaotic times in a couple’s life. We chatted with a meditation and relationship expert to learn four big reasons why meditating before your wedding can calm nerves.
It can help with wedding-planning stress.
Let’s just say there’s a reason for the term “bridezilla.” Most of the wedding-planning process can be fun (hello, cake testing!). However, there are plenty of stressors that creep up, too.
“Couples [don’t] just have the huge decision to get married. But they are often in the position of having to manage the expectations, opinions, and even demands of others while planning their event,” says Dr. Marcie Korman Handler, a clinical psychologist specializing in family and couple treatment. “Then, there are also the multitude of decisions that go into planning the event. And the extraordinary cost,” she adds.
“Stress can be exacerbated by many factors, including perceived threats, expectations, lack of time, taking too much on,” says Michele Pernetta, founder of Fierce Grace Yoga. “Once we’ve made stress hormones, it’s hard to get off of the stress treadmill and take a moment for yourself. Thinking too much, making deadlines for ourselves, and feeling overwhelmed all come from the thinking mind,” she adds.
But, you don’t have to just accept looming deadlines, unexpected costs, and the pressure to invite the aunt of your mom’s best friend as par for the wedding course. Adopting a regular meditation practice during the wedding-planning processes can work wonders for easing the underlying stress factors leading up to the big day.
It makes a physical difference too.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University found evidence that mindful meditation can be linked to easing psychological symptoms of anxiety and depression. Meditation is known to help reduce stress hormones within the body. But when practiced over time, you can actually see a physical difference in the brain.
“MRI scans have shown that after an eight-week course of mindfulness practice, the brain’s ‘fight or flight’ center, the amygdala, appears to shrink,” explains Pernetta. “This primal region of the brain, associated with fear and emotion, is involved in the initiation of the body’s response to stress,” she adds.
It can help with day-of jitters.
Regular meditation is, of course, ideal for the weeks and months leading up to your wedding day. But even a few moments of mindfulness can make a difference for calming day-of nerves and cold feet.
“Couples can get so bogged down in all of the details of this one-day event. They can lose sight of the incredible significance of what they are about to do,” says Dr. Handler. “So, instead of being present with the true emotions of the experience, they are lost in anxiety, worry, and tasks.”
Dr. Handler says that meditation can help couples be more calm and less reactive in the face of stress. And, just as importantly, she says that it may help couples stay more present and connected to the real beauty of the moment. “Through meditation, we tune into our sensory experiences in ways that we often are either numb to or avoid,” she says. “Being more present and aware of our moment-to-moment experience can certainly translate into intimate moments with partners.”
But don’t think that you need to be an old meditation pro to reap the benefits of some mindful moments on your big day. According to Pernetta, even beginners can see the benefits of quick meditation moments. She says that simply sitting with your breath and bringing attention to it can help. “This can calm the inflammation response in the body and bring a sense of calm, even as a total beginner,” she says.
It may ease relationship tension.
We don’t have to tell you that tension is a common side effect of wedding-day stress. Unfortunately, all this tension can build to a breaking point. Yet, the last thing a couple needs during the wedding-planning process is to kick things off with some hard feelings between friends or family—or worse, each other!
“Meditation can be very helpful in moving us out of a fear-based reactivity and into a calmer, more thoughtful type of responsiveness,” explains Dr. Handler. “So, instead of impulsively reacting in a tense situation, we are able to stay a bit calmer and create a space that allows us to respond thoughtfully.” Mindfulness help to avoid reaching that boiling point with friends or family. It can also also help to further promote productive communication, which Dr. Handler says can lead “to closeness, rather than escalating tension and creating emotional distance.”
By acknowledging the tensions and the mixed emotions that come from a wedding via meditation, the mind can almost reset. This allows you and your partner to react to stressful situations rationally. “[Meditation] really allows us to tune into what is going on internally, to bring awareness to our internal experience and to make thoughtful, wise decisions about how to respond,” says Dr. Handler.
Bottom line: the next time your future mother-in-law offers her opinion on the seating assignment, take a moment to breathe—then react!
It may bring you closer to your partner.
But, it’s not just stress-relief that is a takeaway from a regular meditation. Choosing to adopt quiet time and mindful thinking with your SO might just bring you two closer in your relationship.
“I have meditated for nearly three decades and two decades with my husband,” says Pernetta. “It is a wonderful way of bonding, silently—no words. It brings a deeper aspect to your relationship where one is affirming that we are more than the verbal mind. That there is a deep feeling connection with the universe and with each other,” she adds.
However, don’t think that you and your partner need to sit in a candlelit room together chanting. Instead, Dr. Handler advises thinking of meditating together in a less formal manner. She recommends practicing more in terms of the ways in which meditation can help a couple be more grounded, calm, engaged, and present.
“What couples can do, is [to] set an intention to bring that level of mindfulness into their daily lives and into their interactions with one another,” she says. “Finding ways and even particular times of the day or specific activities where couples set the intention to limit distractions and just be together can be extremely helpful,” she notes.
So, how do I start?
If carving out time during your day to meditate seems like a challenge, take it one step at a time. Always remember there is no wrong way to meditate.
“Your mind will pop up and do things and think things, and the body will be uncomfortable. Noises will irritate you,” explains Pernetta. “The trap we fall into oftentimes here is to think [that] all of that means ‘it isn’t working’ or ‘I’m no good at this’ or ‘nothing is happening.’”
She explains that this is all completely natural. The best way to respond is to accept all of that as part of the process. Simply put your mind back on your breath. Realize there is no particular “goal” you need to achieve. The act of meditating is the goal itself. “The rest of the process will unfold naturally over time,” she says.
Sounds like pretty good relationship advice, too.