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The Gentle Path: On Intimacy, an introduction

Intimacy denotes a kind of connection with someone in which one is open to be vulnerable enough in an interchangeable manner, meaning that it is shared, creating a feeling of closeness and acceptance. Intimacy is vital in any kind of relationship. Intimacy opens the heart like a rose, relaxes our muscles, our sense of being. One of the greatest blessings one can have is to share an intimate space in which one is able to just be, clear and transparent. And yet, intimacy can be very scary, because being vulnerable is not an easy thing to do, and disappointments and betrayals in life harden our hearts, therefore being difficult to allow ourselves to be vulnerable in front of others and show ourselves as we truly are. It is important to honor our defences as well as when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

Intimacy is a very important medicine that reaches every aspect of our existence, from physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual. Without intimacy our growth into any of those areas of life just stays at a superficial level. For the purpose of this introduction, I would like to explain the importance of beginning, step by step, with intention and attention a gentle path towards ourselves that invites at every moment towards being more self intimate, in a conscious way! It takes time and dedication, but it can be a very rewarding path.

Most of us have internalised our family patterns of relating, our social, cultural and religious needs. Although they have provided for us a very important root from which we can explore the world, they also provided for us veils of perception, especially towards ourselves. In the Islamic tradition, the concept of humanity being born with a Fitrah, which is understood in simple words as an imprint from the Original Source, is an important one to talk about here. Our Fitrah contains a kind of knowledge which manifests instinctively in all of us humans, regardless of culture or upbringing. Life then becomes a path in which we are born with it, distance from it in the process of growing up and learning from our cultural environments, towards learning to go back to it in a conscious and refined manner hopefully in submission to Reality. The reason I mention this is because intimacy requires sincerity, and sincerity allows for us to be able to listen to those ancient tunes we carry in our heart as we learn to be truthful with ourselves, a task that is ever going and never ending. All of this sounds very serious, therefore I also would like to mention that intimacy requires playfulness and curiosity. As we are an amazing creation filled with wonders, we are also silly, and we should laugh at our silliness, just as many intimate friends and lovers do.

It is my intention for this to be an introduction, therefore I shall keep it simple. I will be expanding on it and the previous topics as we go along. But as an introduction, I would like to explain a little bit on the foundations of intimacy:

  1. Conscious Intention: as we learnt before, establish an intention for the following points (please read “The beginning: On intention”)

  2. To witness/ Witnessing: to practice observing the Self from a place of observation, curiosity and acceptance just as it is. To observe both the negative narratives and well as the grandiose ones and again, our weaknesses and strengths, to witness ourselves as a whole become curious about them instead of rationalising them. Witnessing is to see ourselves in full acceptance, without judgement.

  3. Heartfulness (please read “On heart’s presence” previous blog). Bring yourself to your heart space.

  4. Adhab (refined etiquette): This is such a beautiful word in Arabic and a very important one which is the manner in which we relate with others with the intention of the highest standards. One can spend a whole life refining our etiquette. For the purpose of this space, we are talking about the respect, the value, the reverence we give to ourselves. Don't push yourself to what you are not ready for and respect your own boundaries. We will be expanding a bit more on that in coming writings.

  5. Compassion and forgiveness: we will always find something we dislike about ourselves, shame and guilt come in the way here… compassion is a muscle to exercise, and it begins by clearly seeing what we dislike and learning to go back to it lovingly.

  6. Conscious action: the steps we take towards ourselves and being intimate with ourselves which we will expand little by little in these writings.

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