“To see and feel one’s beloved naked for the first time is one of life’s pure, irreducible epiphanies. If there is a true religion in the universe, it must include that truth of contact or be forever hollow. To make love to the one true person who deserves that love is one of the few absolute rewards of being a human being, balancing all of the pain, loss, awkwardness, loneliness, idiocy, compromise, and clumsiness that go with the human condition. To make love to the right person makes up for a lot of mistakes.” ― Dan Simmons
When I first read this quote I felt something very old and deep stir within me. Certainly part of that stirring was the embodied memory of merging with my beloved Simon. Also, I think there was a tiny, little longing for that which cannot re-occur…the experience of a “first time”. But as I sat with this, I uncovered another reason why it resonates so strongly within me. It’s the recognition that the power of this kind of connection is not just a physical one. In fact this quote is a perfect analogy for the emotional intimacy that we all long for, yet so often feel only at the beginning of our journey into love.
“To see and feel one’s beloved naked” Yes! Naked meaning undefended, open-hearted, vulnerable, surrendered to being completely seen by the other. Dropping away the subtle and not so subtle protections and aspects of personality that have us feel safe, in control and able to ‘hold our own’ in the face of another. If you have had the dangerously glorious experience of ‘falling’ into love, you probably recognize this merged feeling as what drew you into relationship in the first place. It’s a powerful high isn’t it? To be so enamored, to feel so completely gotten. Of course, that’s the seduction of romantic love. It promises more than it delivers because “in-love” is just a state. And all states are transitory.
Yet deep, profoundly connected relationship is possible. And it’s not contingent upon the highs (and lows) of romantic love. We all have the capacity to know and be known – heart-to-heart, unobstructed, and emotionally naked, such that we feel fully awake & alive in the others presence.
We must NURTURE intimacy within the relationship. We must practice. As with yoga, we must roll out the mat. Get on the mat. And embody a pose or two. Check out the definition of nurture:
1. to feed and protect: to nurture one’s offspring.
2. to support and encourage, as during the period of training or development.
3. to bring up; train; educate.
It’s easy to apply all those definitions to the care and feeding of an intimate relationship. But again, how? What practices can we undertake to keep infusing our relationships with opportunities to be emotionally naked together? And how do we recover ourselves when we’ve gotten lost in separation, contraction and reactivity?
I’d like to offer you a list of powerful intimacy practices to experiment with. Some are great daily exercises to support re-connection and take your relating to a more truthful level. Others are for diving even deeper on occasions when you intentionally create one-on-one time like on a retreat or weekend getaway. Others, are useful tools for working through conflict and coming back into heart-felt connection.
I’m a big fan of the Ten-Ten. This practice is to simply take turns deeply listening to the other for 10 minutes as they share what is alive in them. There is something very powerful about knowing that we can share anything and the other will just listen and hold us through our expression. No questions. No commentary. Just listening. The sharing can be mundane or intense…it doesn’t really matter. When we give voice to something, it’s like putting a tiny pin-hole in a balloon. The pressure is slowly released. The energy of holding something alone starts to move. We feel seen, heard and suddenly more open. You’ll find that this reconnection often opens up other ways of relating (playfulness, affection, even love-making) that might not have occurred had we stayed in our little private orbits. With practice, this tool can even be used to express frustration with the other. When we develop the capacity to listen without reacting, even intense expressions can be received and released…letting the energy burn away to make room for love to return. Take your time with this however….best to leave the hot button items for later when you’ve mastered the practice.
I invite you to to the Homepage or the Blog page of this site to download your free copy of these practices. Try them out and see which ones work best for you and your partner. And have some fun with it. It doesn’t serve to come from the perspective that something is wrong or broken. Rather, a relationship is like a child who needs to be nurtured with loving attention and shown what is needed to be healthy & whole.
Like anything worthwhile and deeply satisfying, relationship intimacy requires that we be intentional and give our best efforts. And it certainly helps to have some tools, wise instruction and a support system when upsets & conflict derail those best efforts. I believe relationship is the most intense and dynamic place for us to grow and re-discover our wholeness. I am always, enthusiastically available to support YOUR journey through the fire of relationship.