Building Intimacy through Mindful Meditation
A relationship needs intimacy. Regardless of whether it's a physical intimacy or an emotional intimacy, your relationship will slowly wither and die without it. Intimacy helps both partners to know that they are loved, that love is "worth it." The need to be as close as possible emotionally, to the one person we've promised to spend the rest of our lives with is important to fulfill.
Intimacy is, at its core, a practice of being present: showing up and paying attention. Whether it is to your best friend, the birds in the sky, your partner, or to the heaviness in your own heart. But intimacy requires openness and vulnerability, so instead we deploy various tactics for distraction and disassociation, exacerbated by our beeping phones and the TV in the background.
In order to keep your intimacy alive, it is essential to have rituals to reconnect you amidst the chaos of modern living. There is strong evidence that daily meditation can be one such marriage enhancing ritual.
Pruitt & Mccollum (2010) determined that the practice of meditation increases feelings of compassion for oneself and others, in their case study of long-term meditators.
Meditation helps to dissolve the boundaries between the self and others by bringing to light the universality of suffering.
Another feat of meditation is that it allows us to see things as they are rather than how we would like them to be. When we meditate, we practice becoming aware of sensations in the body and, importantly, accepting whatever our experience may be regardless of whether it is positive, negative, or neutral. This can lead to increased intimacy over time as you get to know your partner and are able to offer them validation and acceptance of who they are.
Meditation teaches you how to be vulnerable. As much-talked-about scholar and researcher Brene Brown points out, vulnerability – or the ability to be open, exposed, and without defenses – is one of the most healing and connecting experiences we can have. Often, fear gets in the way of our ability to express our true feelings. The first step is recognizing these feelings. Through meditation, we learn to get in touch with our deepest realities, which can often be veiled by more dominant emotions and behaviors. Secondly, meditation increases the acceptance we have of ourselves, thereby lessening feelings of shame and fear and allowing us to express ourselves openly to our partners.
Through this act of vulnerability, we give our partners the opportunity to come in to our private space and facilitate healing through support, acceptance, and love.
If we never dare to let our partner see us for who we are, then we can never gain intimacy and meaningful connection.
How does someone meditate with another, you ask? Below is a simple meditation practice called Eye Gazing (adapted from MindfulCouples.com)
Remove any distractions, such as cell phones and kids, Set aside at least 10 minutes of time when you won't be interrupted. Sit across from one another and gaze into one another’s eyes. You might wonder which eye to focus on. Don’t worry about that—just choose one and stay with it.
It’s not a staring contest; it’s ok to blink. It’s ok to laugh or to giggle or to cry. It’s ok to sit quietly and simply look.
Notice what arises within you as you sit and gaze into the eyes of your beloved.
Notice where your mind tries to go. Notice if there’s an urge to grab your phone. Notice if you have the urge to look away. Whenever your mind wanders, bring your awareness back to your eyes and gaze with awe at the wonder you are beholding.
This is an intimate practice.
Something sacred and intimate awakens when you look in this way. It takes vulnerability to really look. It takes vulnerability to allow yourself to be seen. This requires courage.
Be courageous! Be seen.
Be still and quiet.
Allow your eyes to talk. Allow your hearts to communicate. Allow your souls to connect.
The eye is the window to the soul. I believe this is true in two ways.
First, when you look deeply into the eyes of another human being, you glimpse the part of them that is pure wonder without end.
Second, when you look deeply into the eyes of another human being, it opens a window to your own soul. Your partner’s eyes serve as a reflection of the beauty, complexity, and divine humanity that exists in you.
Try it for ten minutes.
Turn all of your attention to one another for this small window of time and notice how you feel.
If you would like a guided version of this meditation, you can find it here.
I hope you are able to set aside some time this week to give this meditation a try. I think you will be pleased with the new level of intimacy that it can create for you as a couple. I hope it deepens your connection and helps you understand each other a little more.