How to Create Intimacy with Our Partners Through the Practice of 4 Rivers.

Via Sarah Norrad
on Mar 27, 2016
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Flickr/Cristina Souza

Eleditor’s Note: This is one author’s personal story and experience. It is not meant to represent an entire continent, culture or group of people. 

Getting close to someone is not always easy. Frankly, sometimes it feels downright frightening.

Yet, there is some beautiful (if not masochistic) drive in our beating hearts to do so.

Admittedly, I am that woman who feels she might burst if she doesn’t get a certain amount of touch and talk stimulation in a day. At times it’s a struggle to figure out how to fulfill this need while not smothering my partner.

My lover and I are very different. I am a talker, while he is more the silent type. I breath interdependence and he eats up solitude. Hence, ours has not always been the easiest pairing, but it has been an inspiring one that has required both of us to grow.

As humans, even if we show it in different ways, we are the same in our desire to connect deeply to one another. Our internal wisdom knows there is sweet nectar found in the flower of intimacy.

To incur those awkward moments of getting to know someone, or to go a little deeper in a relationship we are already in, it is helpful to create a space for relaxed communication. But this can intimidate the bravest of us.

There are some cultures that do intimacy better than others. There are places where people are more innately able to be close to each other. This is not because they are more wired for connection than we are, it is because they were raised knowing how to connect.

Being raised in an individualist society, like in North America, it can be difficult to develop the softer side of ourselves, the part of us that knows that it wants and needs to be close to people to thrive.

Perhaps because I lived overseas for several years, the connection meter in me is always dialed to high.

While living abroad in South America, I was taught this particular communication practice and how it can help us break through to the person we adore, in a non-threatening and proactive way. The questions were developed from the belief that every day we swim in four different rivers of experience and that each of us are inspired, challenged, touched and surprised by something new.

I recommend first checking in with your partner to make sure they are prepared to interact and you both have allotted enough time to give it a go.

Then take turns asking each other the questions below:

What inspired you today?

What challenged you today?

What touched or moved you today?

What surprised you today?

While it may seem simple, this practice is surprisingly effective. I use it in my relationship and have found that it spices up after-work conversations and turns couch potato time into an active communion of the heart.

Getting connected can be many things besides scary, including a lot of fun. With these four questions, we can quickly find out things about our loved one that might otherwise take us years of patient waiting to know.

We can also make creating intimacy more fun by including what inspires or touches us under the sheets as well! There’s no shame in killing two birds with one stone. And often, when we allow ourselves to get more intimate on an emotional level, getting intimate on a physical level is soon to follow.


Author: Sarah Norrad

Editor: Nicole Cameron

Image: Cristina Souza/Flickr







About Sarah Norrad

Sarah Norrad was born a wild woman in the rural and rugged forests of the Nimpkish Valley, on Vancouver Island, BC. This is a place where the mountains, forests and rivers speak louder than the people. A transformational life coach, certified yoga instructor, mindfulness and lay counsellor, world roaming romper and authoress, Sarah muses at the world through a lens steeped in mindfulness, adventure and tenderness. Currently, she exploits the cracks in her own heart to write as featured author at elephant journal, her busy brain to create content for others through her business and her keen spirit to sit in counsel with other evolving humans, teaching powerful tools for success in all aspect of our lives, especially the spark of connection. Occasionally she is caught planting giant kisses on loved ones and on the weekends sippin' sparkling fruit juices. Please track down her offerings and her wild woman self on elephant journal, her writer's page or her personal Facebook, her website, Cowbird, Twitter and Instagram.


4 Responses to “How to Create Intimacy with Our Partners Through the Practice of 4 Rivers.”

  1. Allison says:

    This sounds fascinating, but i have never heard of it. Where in South America?

  2. @NorradSarah says:

    Hi Allison,

    this practice was taught to me orally by a fellow counsellor. She learned it through Dr. Angeles Arrien's work, 'the four fold way.' Dr. Arrien is a cross-cultural anthropologists specifically interested in the wisdom of traditional societies in South America. I could not find a region specific origin for this practice, but if you are intrigued by it, I recommend Dr. Arrien's work.

    Happy intimacy creating!


  3. Petra says:

    I just love this article 🙂 So, hard to find a man that is willing to let their guard down. Sigh…

  4. @NorradSarah says:

    Thank you Petra for connecting. Sigh, yes, sometimes it can just be hard in general to find anyone who lets their guard down! I believe though that we each truly want to. Maybe we just need to teach each other how. XO Happy connection making!