Intimacy. It is arguably the greatest of human experiences. To be seen deeply and nakedly, and to dare see deeply and nakedly into that person on the other side of a shared gaze—is there any act more courageous or fulfilling? Lover to lover, parent to child, friend to friend, it is in seeing one another that each of us faces the true depths of our own essence.
Powerful beyond the bounds of sexuality, it is through intimacy that we authentically connect with those closest to us. For lovers, however, it serves as the doorway to sexuality’s true bounty. As Pál Szinyei Merse’s painting suggests, it can be a kind of spiritual foreplay through which the depths of rapture are revealed.
There are a couple things lovers can do to support a flourishing of intimacy together:
1. Seeing and being seen. Gaze with openness and fascination into each others’ eyes. No words. No movement. Just empty time together, one consciousness witnessing and absorbing the other. Push through the awkwardness if it arises, giggling or laughing as you may. Take slow deep breaths, centering yourself in the eyes of your beholder. Give it enough time and you will begin to see someone you have never seen before. Give it enough time and you will be seen as never before.
2. Knowing and being known. This technique unfolds slowly throughout your days together. You each develop a kind of user’s guide to yourself. You share these user’s guides with each other as they continually evolve.
Each of us approaches life in very different ways. We have different needs and gifts. We tend to assume that everyone else approaches life as we do. This misconception is a great inhibitor to intimacy.
What gestures help you to feel that you have been heard? What forms of support are most important to you? What expectations do you hold? What are your needs at this point in your life, whether you are proud or embarrassed about them? What are you most afraid of? What makes you feel most alive? What one gift do you most appreciate? What gift do you most like to give? How can you best be supported when you are upset? What truths about yourself are you most afraid to share and why? And so on…
By developing and sharing your own personal user’s guides with one another, you not only learn to see and honor each other with greater depth, but you learn to see and honor yourselves for who you are. This opens a doorway to greater intimacy together, and for each of you independently. After all, you can only be as close in relationship with another as you are with yourself.