What does Intimacy mean to you? I asked this open question via social media. A plethora of interpretations came back!
“I offer a space of intimacy without judgement where you can be held, stroked, cradled and caressed with unconditional love.” After all, this is my opening promise to all. And like Tantra, I want to elaborate on Intimacy, specially in the context of how it’s offered at Healing Hands-London.
Intimacy is a state of being Intimate. Etymology traces the earliest use of the word back to sixteenth century Latin, where we find Intimus, meaning "inmost, innermost, deepest”. Dictionaries (a, b, c) may have different elaborations on the meanings but almost all agree euphemistically it means sexual intercourse.
Intimacy can only begin once you know yourself. Since intimacy means "in-to-me-see," how can anyone "see into" you and who you are, your fears, dreams, hopes and desires unless you know who you are and are willing to allow someone in? Experiencing true intimacy begins with being connected to your own heart. Before I get into why I want intimacy forefront our lives, let me share with you some of the responses to my open question.
“I have never experienced intimacy, but the highest level of intimacy is not about getting pleasure, it’s more about giving pleasure, it’s about becoming one”.
“Listening, sharing thoughts, touch, time, a non-judgemental space to express whatever, compassion, kindness to each other”.
“Sharing my soul”.
Some respectable research paper made me believe that women express intimacy in all its richness where as men see it in the realm of the euphemistic sense only. The responses I got blew away the binaries before they could even come into play. There are those who have grappled with the understanding intimacy and those who continue to struggle with it. Those who have externalised the meaning and those who have imbibed it in their beings.
“Harmony in love, it’s a mutual chemistry and a spark!” Can it be both, between friends and lovers? “Only between lovers. Between friends, friendship will get spoiled. Females change emotionally after getting intimate! You can’t control it.”
Someone very young summated intimacy as “Closeness and understanding”, while someone else suggested “a blow-job”, “a very close relationship between two people who share both their minds and bodies with each other”.
“Facing and sharing our fears, weaknesses and limits, without feeling weak”.
One of my clients responded rather poetically, “in ordinary lives we hide behind masks, intimacy reveals what lies behind them.”
One of the people imagined INTIMACY at the centre and listed qualities circling or spiralling around it, not necessarily in the written order: Trust, Unconditional Love, Closeness, State of Letting Go, Touch, Resting in Selfhood, Feeling of Security, Unpretentiousness, Simplicity.
For when I look at intimacy, the womb is the ultimate space where you are accepted and nurtured for being you. While listening to the mother’s beating heart from within her body the journey begins. Once outside, the child in it’s beauty, strength, vulnerability and fragility, experiences another intimacy of being held, fed and cared for. The earliest founding memories of unconditional love that come with intimacy ground us. It helps us understand us for who we are. Intimacy is being appreciated. But fast forward to the lives we live as adults, intimacy becomes a fear. “Everybody is afraid of intimacy. It means exposing yourself in front of a stranger. We are all strangers, nobody knows anybody. We are even strangers to ourselves because we do not know who we are. Intimacy brings you close to a stranger. You have to drop all your defences, all your masks. We are all hiding 1001 things not only from the other strangers but from our self. We have been brought up in sick humanity, with all kinds of depressions, taboos and inhibitions. We may have lived with someone for over thirty forty years, but the stranger and the strangeness never disappears. It feels safer to keep a little defence and a little distance because someone can take advantage of your weakness, of your fragility and vulnerabilities”, Osho.
Deep down, whilst we crave intimacy, we are running away from it. Is the world heart broken? People relate to each other across a spectrum of relationships from parent-child to platonic friendships and, of course, romantic love. Fear of intimacy is understandable—and common—but the inability to overcome that fear wrecks relationships. Everyone gets angry but if you find a feeling of anger simmering constantly, a fear of intimacy maybe lurking underneath. The key is talk it out and communicate with your partner. Take small risks to make sure your partner will accept you for who you are, but in order to do that, accept yourself first. If you are allowing the other person to get to know the real you, then that's the surest path to intimacy and love. Physical contact such as cuddles and hugs can be especially powerful. These expressions of intimacy communicate what you mean to each other. It builds safety, which results in deeper connection. Being a workaholic is not a tiara to show off, it is maybe a powerful sign that one is afraid of emotional intimacy. By staying busy it’s easy to dodge feelings of sadness, shame, or anger. You neither expose and share your vulnerabilities with any other person nor do you face them yourself. Work becomes a mask in this case. Being intimate involves the mixing of our life with another's, a mingling of souls, a sharing of hearts. This is something we all long for because we were designed to connect. Intimacy makes us feel alive like we've been found, as if someone finally took the time to peer into the depths of our soul. Until we experience true intimacy, we will feel passed over and ignored, like someone is looking right through us. I offer a space where through intimacy I allow and encourage you to be you. By looking into your eyes, I am allowing to be looked at myself. I let compassion and love guide me. There is no judgement on what you look like or who you are, you are accepted and given my whole attention and full love for who you are. It is a deeply abiding connection that manifests between you and me on an emotional, physical and spiritual level.
If we look at the word more closely, intimacy also implies getting to know ourselves more deeply — into me I see. It suggests that the more we know ourselves the less need there is to hold back or have secrets. For secrets are the breeding ground for shame and guilt. We can be open and accepting of our faults. This enables us to be much closer to someone else. When we can make friends with ourselves we can make friends with others. Intimacy creates a space where ‘performance’ is replaced with ‘presence’. In the time I share with my clients, I revive intimacy with intentional touch. The respect and love provides encouragement of authenticity, for it’s key to any relationship. Authenticity allows us to observe, accept, forgive and celebrate SELF. The repeated sessions restore the body’s memory of being loved from a deep cellular to soul level. "How bold one gets when one is sure of being loved" (Sigmund Freud)
As technology is fast replacing human connection, start taking little steps to bring intimacy back. Phone instead of texting. Look at people when you talk to them. Be fully attentive to what people have to say. Be mindful of what you say. Breathe intentionally to heal! Spot your own patterns of behaviour that block intimacy. Acknowledge your emotions. Let go of what does not serve any purpose. Be more in the PRESENCE of people you feel a connection with. Be YOU!
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