We are naturally intimate.
But we often get so busy and distracted that we forget that intimacy is the source of our compassion, kindness, and connection.
Here are three ways we can return to our natural intimacy.
1. Touching. On a first date, she wiggles just a little closer on the front seat—a sure sign that things are going well, heating up, and that this is a great date. When we are first with someone, the distance between us is electric. When it shrinks, we get charged up, turned on, and lose our minds. It piques us when our hands brush, or we feel each other’s breath or ribs for the first time.
After 10 or 20 years of marriage, one of us reaching for the other is still a hot, welcome advance—and skin to skin is sublime.
Getting closer to someone has us feel more connected. It closes the literal gap between us and tends to mend mental gaps as well. Touching heals our separateness and loneliness. When we touch, we grace the space between us—and when we do so consciously, we learn a lot about ourselves, one another, and togetherness.
Touch when you can, but when you can’t or don’t, then use the space between as an incredible playground of intimate connection. Leverage the space between to lighten up, confirm personal worth, and fire up intimate relationships.
2. The space between. We can’t always be rolling around in bed. The duties of the day tend to place demands on us that separate us in space. One of us takes the kids to soccer, while the other fixes dinner or runs errands. Sometimes it seems like almost everything, even space itself, is intent upon us being apart.
But with vast space between them, the sun holds the moon, gravity clings to you and me, and personal gravity holds us together.
The space between us can actually bring us closer together, rather than driving us further apart. When we can savor the space between, then we can meet in the in-betweens. We can share the common, neutral ground—to do so, we can focus attention not on our partner, but on the space between us.
However, often our attention jumps all the way to our spouse, to the moon, or to something we want. When it does, we ignore the space between—the “nothing” space that crackles with possibility. Between us isn’t me, and it isn’t you—it is where we can be the best us ever. It is where relationship takes place.
This isn’t airy, fairy stuff. Literally look, listen, or feel in the direction of your spouse, a pet, or anything. But don’t let your attention reach all the way to them, pause it before it gets there.
This pause refreshes; it asks nothing of you and gives everything back. It offers a subtle, formless freedom that is the essence of nothing.
As babies, with nothing but possibilities around us, we lived in this place—innocent, open, and pure. We can return to the place simply by noticing the spaces between things, rather than the things themselves.
When we notice the spaces, we feel into who we are that is not our body—we discover ourselves as unlimited possibility, and we have intimate time with nothing.
Our creativity races when we notice the spaces between, and our reflexive reactions melt away into natural intimacy with what is.
3. Synchronizing our paces. The Rolling Stones claimed that “time is on our side,” but that certainly isn’t the way we experience it. Often, we are too busy to cuddle up, slow down, smell the roses (or our partner’s sweet scent).
But there is a way to coax time to our side. And that is to discover our pace. There is a particular speed that we talk, do the dishes, make love, or think. That is our own personal pace.
When we vary our pace—walk a little faster, speak more slowly, or drive a few miles an hour slower—we see, hear, and feel differently. Varying our pace interrupts the way we normally do things. It inspires us to show up.
Our partner has a pace too. And with practice, we can match their pace—and suddenly, they experience being gotten, loved, and cared for.
I have two kids. My son was always slower than my daughter. Slower to warm to a new idea, a trip, or a change in routine. This caused a time chasm between us until I discovered that I could join him in his time and wait patiently for him, loving him all the while. Our relationship transformed. We were closer than ever.
Varying our pace reminds us that time isn’t real. Synchronizing our pace with our partner spawns primal intimacy effortlessly.
Varying our pace has us get the joke together, unites our arousal, and coordinates our actions—from making dinner to making love.
Varying pace allows time be on our side.
Returning to grace.
When space and time are on our side, we live in a place of grace. We flow, rather than resisting the flow, and we discover that we are naturally intimate.
When we get snagged in space and time, we are suddenly claustrophobic, late, and exceedingly uncomfortable. When that happens, we abandon our bodies and retreat to our thoughts. This escape is the opposite of grace, it is just a mental hiding place.
When we are angry, upset, inundated with sadness, or existentially uncomfortable, we can step out of space and time to a place of grace. We can focus our attention on the space between things, breaths, or thoughts. We can slow our thoughts down approaching stillness.
Grace is truly a place out of time and out of space. Grace isn’t a place to live; it is a place to visit. Steep yourself in grace, and then step out into the space-bound, time-bound world again, knowing that grace is yours to visit anytime you wish.
Author: Jerry Stocking
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina