“Your hand touching mine. This is how galaxies collide.” ~ Sanober Khan
“We’ve grown apart.”
When I was a teenager, I wondered what adults meant by this. I imagined some kind of moving walkway, like the ones at the airport, with lovers passing in opposite directions, hands reaching, hearts breaking…my imagination could not fathom love just ending.
“Where did it go?” I would ask.
But I was young then, and had romantic notions about love being a bottomless well of possibilities. (Okay, maybe I still do have those notions.)
Of course, I now understand how this “growing apart” happens. It’s not the love itself that fades as much as we fade away from each other.
No love affair is perfect. For instance, as I write this, I’m in the middle of a disagreement with my partner about something silly, and we’ve been in our separate corners, chewing on our opposing views. Real life, real love…and Mercury Retrograde. (Communication woes!)
All love waxes and wanes in cycles; it’s perfectly normal and fine to have disagreements, and even arguments, or grow at an in-congruent pace—but that’s not the growing apart I’m speaking of.
In my experience, intimacy is even more important in a relationship than love. Love is an emotion or feeling, while intimacy is a constant commitment.
When couples drift apart, it is generally due to a systemic decrease in intimacy. By intimacy, I mean all connections: emotional, physical and spiritual.
There are many ways of maintaining intimacy: through communication (via good listening skills), by living authentically (and encouraging our partner to do the same), through mindful gestures, or through sexual contact.
But let’s say that sex is not on the agenda all that much. Let’s say that because of illness, or hormone imbalances, or exhaustion, sex isn’t one way that you’d maintain intimacy.
Let’s say that one of you is very quiet and conversation has never been your thing?
Let’s say that finances are strained, and life is just not flowing the way you expected it to, and you’re a little bit depressed—or even all kinds of depressed—and love seems like too much work.
Let’s say that your man is not naturally romantic, so those mindful gestures slip his mind or yours.
Let’s say that listening has never been your forte?
Let’s say neither of you cook, so making a meal wouldn’t be a way of keeping things warm.
What is left for keeping the home fires burning that is practically effortless?
It may seem insignificant, or even silly, but—it’s naked cuddling!
I started thinking about the power of touch even before I was in an intimate relationship. I’m adopted, and often thought about the fate of children who did not find families for extended periods. I’d read an article about orphanages in Eastern Europe where babies had been left in their cribs without any human touch for months and years, and they basically turned into frightened animals, often exhibiting physical manifestations of this lack of contact. They simply grew into young people who did not trust other humans. These stories affected me greatly.
Later, I read another article about how our elders also suffer from lack of touch once their partner passes away. This information stayed with me, and one failed marriage later, I saw for myself how lack of touch could erode a perfectly divine love into something un-salvageable.
It wasn’t luck that made me pay close attention to intimacy in my current marriage. I had learned enough to make a concerted effort as far as touch was concerned.
For the last 22 years, my partner and I have been sleeping naked, cuddling most of the night or for as long as it felt comfortable. When we’re not in the mood for sex, we naked cuddle. When we watch a movie in bed…we naked cuddle. There have been very few days when we haven’t connected in this way. And even when we’re truly annoyed with each other, once we get into bed, that naked cuddle has been ingrained into such a strong habit, that we can still find our equilibrium as soon as skin touches skin.
Studies show that naked cuddling reduces cortisol ( a stress hormone) and increases endorphins (feel good hormones)—such as those released during exercise, or sex, or shopping. (But naked cuddling won’t wreak havoc with your credit card!)
We often say that bedtime is the best time of the day; we look forward to it and how ridiculously good it feels to re-connect. It’s taken us through many a storm over the last two decades. No matter what’s gone on during the day, we have that daily chance to make a pleasurable re-acquaintance with how much we love each other.
Naked cuddling expresses a level of intimacy that can’t always be expressed in words. It’s a way of maintaining closeness that can override problems, because in each others arms there is a safe harbor and a spiritual connection. When we embrace, our auras (energy fields) mingle. We are connected on much more than a physical level.
The touch of skin on skin stimulates nerve endings and results in a feeling that for many is even more satisfying than sex.
It’s pretty difficult to drift too far from someone whom you’ve been warming with your body heat and sharing in theirs as a regular activity.
The intimacy of full on body touch works because you are being two things; mindful and present in the moment.
To be present with each other is the highest form of love.
When we’re present, we’re offering more than an emotion, we are offering a commitment to remain fully aware of the human being we call our beloved.
Not-so-naked cuddling—say, with pajamas on—is also great. You’re still connecting. But naked is where the magic happens. It’s the skin on skin that really revs up those endorphins and signals the brain that something special is occurring.
Love is nurtured through intimacy. Trust is built. We become more aligned with other human beings in our orbit as well, because we are being nurtured in our main relationship.
To take this a step further, let’s say that you’re single. There’s no one to nurture intimacy with, right?
Actually, there is. You! Our relationship with the world is only as good as our relationship with ourselves.
Touch is still important—or even more important when we’re on our own, and there are a few ways to nurture that. Try a professional massage, exchanging foot and hand massage with a non-romantic friend, or masturbation…erm, that would be by yourself.
The physical body is the most obvious point of contact that we have with our environment and other people. We also communicate via empathic pathways, when we “sense” energy, through our aura (energetic body). But since we are most aware of our physical body, and since we are made to be sensual creatures, touch becomes vital to emotional equilibrium.
We are meant to touch and be touched. By instinct, a mother places her hand on her child’s forehead when they are sick. It is an ancient impulse to provide “healing” and a connection to the Third Eye, or pineal gland which regulates hormones. You see, we are in a way programmed to find wholeness through touch and connection.
Begin a practice of soulful connection through naked cuddling. If you are transitioning from sleeping in pajamas, you may be surprised at how very different a whole night of nakedness can be.
“Well I don’t like him to see me naked,” is a common reason for not sleeping in the nude.
Right there is a wonderful opportunity to address body image and how we relate to each other—and to ourselves more importantly. If you have to, slip into bed when the lights are out. The next instinct may be to say, “Don’t touch me here.” If that is where you’re at, it’s where you’re at. No biggie. But remain open to your feelings and why you’re feeling them.
I bet he or she wishes they could hold your glorious nakedness no matter what. I bet they’re dying to connect. I bet they need to be touched too.
I’m speaking from my own experience, which is all I can really do, but I would love to hear from you and find out what you think about naked cuddling as it relates to love?
Naked love is good love.
Author: Monika Carless
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina