When the word “intimacy” comes up, I’m willing to bet that many of our minds immediately generate thoughts predicated on sex. However, intimacy is the essence of unity; a rawness that conveys vulnerability and trust to others. Intimacy arises when we confide in our friends, when we share something meaningful with another person, or when we take personal risks that are imbued with uncertainty. When we can truly embrace intimacy it’s an indication that we’ve found comfort, ease, and conviction in our choices.
Sure, intimacy is a beautiful element to and result of sex—it’s this act that is one of the deepest expressions of trust in a relationship. But sex should be neither our launching point to find intimacy, nor our ultimate goal. In fact, intimacy is something that can and should be cultivated in all relationships, especially the one you have with yourself.
As we approach Valentine’s Day, the hallmark of intimate expressions, try fostering a more intimate relationship with yourself as a means of truly embracing it with others. Here are a few ideas to stimulate an intimate conversation with your inner lover:
1. Do something that scares you
Afraid of heights? Jump off of something tall. Loathe the idea of public speaking? Go to an improv class. Love to sing, but think you’re no good? Find a karaoke bar. Want to get out of Dodge to find adventure? Buy your plane ticket.
This is quite possibly the singular thing that you must do to discover your inner intimacy. Approaching something that scares the bejesus out of you will not only rattle your soul, but it will leave you feeling uncomfortably vulnerable. Sounds awful? It shouldn’t! In our most raw and awkward states we find deep connections with our absolute beliefs. You will always surprise yourself and come away with an inspiring story to share—helping others to feel more intimately connected to you in the process.
2. Find a stranger and give them a genuine compliment
This could be a continuation of #1—maybe your fear is the anxiety caused by interacting with strangers. Good! Two birds.
By genuine I mean it. There’s no value in making something up just to convince yourself that you’ll feel personally rewarded for speaking to a stranger. No, if it takes weeks to find that stranger, so be it. When you give them your praise, look them in the eye and smile. Random acts of kindness are understated, but radically intimate.
3. Get some alone time
This can be especially challenging and important for some folks. We all “recharge” in different ways, but it can also be challenging to feel connected to your own state of being if you’re constantly in the midst of others. Dedicate a morning, evening, or an entire day to unplugging the phone (as if we still use plug-in phones), turning off the TV, closing books, and tuning into your own thoughts. You could take a bubble bath, take a nature walk, or simply sit quietly. Observe and listen to the stuff that comes up.
4. Self massage
Yes, you could take this in a variety of directions that would be inappropriate for discussion here. What I mean is to literally massage your limbs into relaxation so that your physical state can become full of ease. The Ayurvedics call this practice abhyanga and assert it should be done daily with the aid of quality oils. We all hold tension in different parts of the body and becoming highly attuned to that through self massage is a wonderful expression of inner intimacy.