Meditation And Intimacy Are Closely Linked
According to Buddhist teacher Michael Stone, Climate change, economic inequality, and a crisis of intimacy are the three major issues facing our world today. Our intimacy issues are preventing deep engagement with our communities and the environment. So how can we learn to have healthy intimacy?
Intimacy is a practice of presence. It is the act of showing up and paying attention to your best friend or to the heaviness in your heart. We’ve learned tactics for distraction and disassociation, exacerbated by our beeping phones and the TV in the background, it goes without mentioning our our learned cultural terror of awkward silences.
To avoid these silences we have come to insert ourselves into our conversations. This is seen when a friend tells us they’ve had a bad day, we jump in to relate it to our own lives, or to try to fix the problem so they’ll stop feeling what they are expressing. None of that is really listening. Listening requires that we shut up some of the time, and simply hold space for the other person.
Matthew Remski has written a piece on meditation as a form of conversation between two of your selves: your conscious self and your feeling self. Your feeling self is that which experiences, that which holds sensation and emotion in the body. Your conscious self is the self that has language, that understands the world through narratives.
When we try to call the conscious self into the presence of the feeling self, we allow them to come into contact. When this happens, old habits may arise: we tell that old grief it has no right to sit in our hearts, or reprimand the mind for obsessing about what the boss said. The work is to keep these two selves in each others’ presence, allowing them both the space to express whatever is going on. When the mind starts wandering away, chattering into worry or judgement, we can call it back to the body by just taking a simple breath.
Staying in the presence of what we are feeling and becoming aware of what we are thinking can greatly influence relationship patterns that we enact every day inside our own skins. We discover something new about ourselves everyday, and as we discover the ways we avoid connecting internally, we start to see the ways we do that with other people. We must learn to have compassion for our own faults, shame, joy, and madness. Only through this will we stay open to those of our lovers and our families.