When we talk about intimacy, most people immediately think of intimacy in a romantic way, which as we all know, comes and goes and has its own ups and downs. There is, however, another kind of intimacy, which is one of the greatest ways we humans have available to us to access ourselves. I learned that from my mother, who used to have the ritual of spending time with friends or new people she would meet at our kitchen table. She would always prepare special little goodies, sharing food while immersed in conversation. You would get the sense that the outside world would disappear and one would feel that you were in the presence of something almost sacred. She used to call these encounters my "human communion." She would be so fully present with someone and undistracted, she would listen to them, share with them and offer her magical insights, making the person feel like they were the most important person in the universe. This could have been anyone, from someone she just recently met to an old friend to a bank clerk who she randomly connected with at the bank while she was making a deposit, and the next thing you know they'll be sitting at our kitchen table. That is the gift of human intimacy, which after all, means Into-me-see.
As I have gone on in my life, I too, aim to practice this kind of intimacy when I am with another person. These kinds of intimate connections become food for the soul. Actually I must confess, I am a bit of an intimacy addict. I cannot go without my daily fix. It takes a certain courage to drop one's own agenda, such as "What can the other person do for me?" or "I want them to like me," or "I want to impress them." All of this can cloud the genuine caring for another person.
In this fast-paced world, most people are always focused on getting to the next thing, missing the moment, which creates anxiety and leaves us with a feeling of discontent. I recently heard a woman at the panel say that she realized that she had not been making contact with her children's eyes because she was so preoccupied with with moving on to the next thing. Missing these precious moment hardens our hearts and deprives us of the sweetness of life.
The remedy to that is doses of intimate moments, experiences and interactions. This is more of a healthy choice and it takes conscious effort, but the end result is a sense of deeper calmness and peace. The sense of urgency disappears and you now have become in charge of your own time. Beyond our public image, and behind the masks that we wear before leaving the house there is the real person, the real heart and the real lives that we all have that. What my mother often demonstrated was the ability to disarm the other person, where their masks and pretenses would fall off and the real person would emerge. She embodied this authentic unconditional caring that made the other person's walls crumble. I have been very blessed to have real authentic friends in my life, the kind of friends who ask you how are you and you actually tell them, because you feel safe, you feel heard and they have time for you.
I have recently experienced this gift of intimacy with a friend who lives out of town. I found that whenever I would be on the phone in conversation with him, there would never be a sense of rush or zoning out. As the recipient of this gift, I felt there was all the time in the world, and I realized at the end of the conversation that I felt closer actually to myself! What often happens in a relationship is we sense when the other person is on automatic and they don't really have space for us, they are somewhere else, so we don't share what is really going on with us, and rightly so.
Imagine what life would be like if we made a point to have more intimate experiences in our lives. What my mother communicated without words was the presence of caring, that was beyond the person's position, title or status. It was as if her undivided attention was broadcasting "I care for you because of YOU."
So the reason I was called to write this blog is because I think a shift needs to happen in our culture. The shift that when we are in front of another person, it could be a business meeting, it could be a new encounter, it could be a colleague at your work place, it could be your child's teacher, we make it our business to practice this deep caring. What it really comes down to is practicing radical generosity in offering your undivided time and energy to another, that is the gift that comes back to you in spades.
Will you share with us how do you practice intimacy in your life, and how are you the recipient and giver of that.
For more by Agapi Stassinopoulos, click here.
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Visit Agapi's website Unbindingtheheart.com.