Have you seen “Starry Night Over the Rhône” by Van Gogh? A few years ago I went to a gallery and as I strolled through the rooms, I suddenly came across it. I actually went to that gallery because of an exhibit on Monet, and yet, unexpectedly, it was not with Monet’s painting that I fell in love.
I admit, I was never a fan of Van Gogh. I never felt drawn to his art and even though I’ve seen that painting online many times, I just never felt much.
Until that day.
I stood in front of this starry night, completely mesmerized. Sucked into it. For an hour and a half. In complete silence, I stood there admiring it. Adoring it. Trying to zoom into each little star in its midnight sky. My eyes touched each shade of color and each stroke of brush. A picture would never do it justice. I wanted to explore all of its delicate details from each angle.
This is art.
Loving is art.
Because you need to be with it, spend time with it. Explore it. Nurture it. Study its curves, shapes and colors. Feel it and surrender to it. Loving is a sense of being. Love is free of judgments; it’s unexpected. We go in for Monet but fall in love Van Gogh instead.
But loving, just like art, requires intimacy.
Intimacy is when all of you – at your deepest core – is opened to see, feel, receive and experience another. But this takes time and patience.
It’s art. Looking into it. Being with it.
But here is the problem – in today’s world, we rarely slow down.
In the age where people swipe and choose potential partners off of apps like products in a supermarket, humans have become replaceable. We are Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall.” Not worthy of time, attention and effort. And how can you love anything when you don’t truly see it nor connect to it? Anything in life is special only we spend more time with it. Your childhood toy. The rose in The Little Prince.
All of us talk of love. Obsess about it. Complain about it. Search for it. Soulmates. The One! Listen, I get it. Fairytales, right? But when was the last time we fought dragons through an unknown forest for someone we’ve never even seen just to take a chance on love? The usual effort most make nowadays is picking up the phone and planning something more than “just chill.” Happy ends don’t just happen.
Just like the illusion of an oasis when we’re thirsty and lost in the desert, the spiritual and emotional desert of today’s modern romance. Poverty of souls and hearts. No worries though. Just swipe another human on the app to distract. In a world where everything is integrated, we actually feel more isolated than ever. The fuller seems emptier. We need to slow down and connect. See. Talk. Touch. It’s beautiful to explore someone. Like art.
And when we do that, the sexual sensation feels much more intimate and much more explosive. Ecstasy happens when the pleasure, joy and intimacy expand to a greater experience of ourselves — spiritually, i.e. beyond the physical touch. Did you know that in the few seconds of orgasm, the consciousness “dies” and you experience transcendence , one which as a human being you cannot otherwise experience? That’s why sexual orgasm is called “le petite mort” (the little death) by the French. Imagine prolonging those few seconds and building something long-lasting too. This happens through deep intimacy.
So, you’ve met someone that you like. Maybe they touched your waist by mistake and sent shivers down your spine. But more than that, you actually feel like you might really, really like them. And yay – it’s mutual.
So how can we build a deeper bond? How can we build intimacy?
First off, let them know that you’d want to take it slow and use that time to connect deeper. And secondly, everything is established and dependent on trust. No love, no sexual ecstasy, nothing meaningful can ever exist without trust. You need to surrender completely. You need to be open and vulnerable to be truly intimate with someone.
Remember, intimacy is “into-me-see”. So you need to be comfortable with yourself and allow another to see you. Truly see you.
So, lovers, let’s start.
Yes. The windows to the soul, right? Before we look into someone else’s though , we need to see ourselves clearly. We need to have a receptive gaze. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Take your attention back to your body and relax. Be aware of any sensations and feelings that arise. In receptive gazing, your awareness is inside your own body connected to the feelings and sensations within. Once ready, your eyes will be in soft focus. When we receive someone’s eyes with receptive gaze , it’s called soul gazing. Only then, relaxed and soft, can we receive them fully.
Start off by looking into each other’s eyes. Spend at least five minutes in silence. Slow your breath as you relax into your lover’s eyes. Get sucked into them. Feel yourself in them. Welcome any feelings that arise, even if it’s boredom or irritation. Consider why you would feel the way you do. Let thoughts and feelings come and go. No matter what you feel , it’s okay — just float with it.
Let your eyes become your feelings. The words that you’ll speak. Let your eyes become the hands with which you’ll touch. Stay with that feeling.
This is very important. Relations are built on the ability to communicate freely and honestly. Intimacy is built on communication. We are all different and express ourselves differently. The key is sharing because almost all fallouts are due to misunderstandings or miscommunication. Spend time asking each other anything you want. Make it meaningful. Childhood dreams, precious memories, beliefs, favorite tastes and scents. When did they last cry? What are their fears and doubts? How do they express love and affection? What are their needs? How do they need to be loved and appreciated?
Intimate communication requires deep listening. When you ask and they reply , truly listen and understand. If you don’t understand something , clarify it.
Ask. Share. Connect. Realize we are all similar in at least one area of life. While our situations and circumstances may have been different, we’ve all cried, we all have fears and doubts and dreams. Learn and open your mind to this person next to you. What does their inner world look like? It’s beautiful and unique. As is yours. Maybe, just maybe, somewhere in those two worlds , you’ll find a shared bridge. There is a universe within us ; how beautiful would it be to see someone else’s? Remember that in order to experience deep intimacy (and ultimately love) , we need to be open, vulnerable and not constrain ourselves by suppression. Clear out any fears and doubts. Share it. That’s the only way trust will build and your minds and hearts will be open to intimacy.
Start physical touch. Softly and slowly. As if your fingers are feathers. Just run your fingers on their skin. Touch their hands. Weave with their fingers. Hold hands. Touch their neck. Their eyes. Their lips. Their dimples. Feel every curve on their body. Feel it all. Explore it. Enjoy every minute of it. Comfort the other with your touch. Relax into their touch. Caress them. Devote yourself to this beautiful person next to you. Devote yourself to exploring them. Let your hands become the extension of the heart.
You’ve seen within your lover with your eyes. You’ve known them with your words. You’ve held them with your touch. You’ve devoted yourself to them. Let them see your body and you see theirs. It’s beautiful as is. We all have insecurities, but if we cannot accept ourselves for who we are, how would we accept another or allow to be accepted by them? Your bodies are your temples, so caress each other with love and compassion. The space you have built together is sacred. It’s safe. It’s a temple for your love, so respect it and keep it private.
Let every day be a painting. The truth is, if I had spent an hour and a half in front of any painting, I would have felt closer to it. Sometimes things don’t work out in love – engagements, marriages, relationships – but getting to know another person deeply is what we will end up remembering. It’s what makes life beautiful and meaningful. We change constantly. Even after many years together with one person living under the same roof , we still change and we need to get to know each other — explore each other — all over again each day. And just like art , there is always something new you’d find in your partner — a new color, a new sparkle, a new feeling.
And isn’t that loving?