Many of us remain a mystery to ourselves. Our inner landscapes can remain unchartered for decades until some great outer experience suddenly summons us to deeply question what it is that we really feel about it all. Personally I reckon that becoming intimate with the wild world within us is the most important journey that we can possibly take.
I’m not talking intimacy as a sexual thing here (that’s a whole other article…)
I’m talking about touching and being touched by life.
I’m taking about knowing and being known by life- by that subtle sweet thing that animates us.
I’m talking about coming into close contact with the somatic, subtle sense of our own body.
I’m talking about being with the tender beauty of being with our breath, our body and the place in which we sit/stand/dance/meditate/move; as we stay with it all for a series of unfolding moments. I’m talking about the sweet serenity that comes with being soaked in the sensate. Think of when you’ve danced hard, or jogged or made love -and how at home within yourself you generally feel afterwards.
There are so many landscapes within us that we can come into closer intimacy with. The terrains of the body’s inner experience. The fecund and flowering things within us; the tight buds that want to blossom. And the pockets of death and decay from the things we overlooked to tend to- they will need their honouring too.
We may well need to consciously cultivate an intimacy practice with our own inner experience, invite ourselves in deeper. Take time to explore the wild places within us.
The tempo of our times is fast and much draws “us up and out” of ourselves. A million mundane things are demanding our daily attention with persistent push notifications, buzzes and billboards. It is no good imploring ourselves to harridly hurry up and connect! To become intimate with our inner experience we have to give ourselves time- thick, rich, velvety time!
We can start with shifting down a gear. When we slow down we will get to see the subtleties of life. The way that the wind is blowing the trees outside, the flicker of the candle flame, the movement of breath in the sleep in cats body next to us. There is much beauty in being with these micro moments of life. Life is really made up of a series of snap shot moments anyway- I believe that it serves us greatly to build our ability to be present for and with them.
When we practice staying with the somatic/felt senses, then we are building our own ability to be present with ourselves. We are putting aside distraction technology and talking and coming in closer to the sense of life within us. Sometimes for me, my awareness practices see like they are just another task to do. A way of maintaining wellness that has to be slotted into my schedule. A perfunctory pause. I know that it is way more delicious when it feels like a space to unfold into. A gift that is given. Some unharried moments when I can be and be in good relationship with myself.
We can then consciously invite ourselves into intimacy with our own experience. Cultivate curiosity. Lean in and learn about ourselves.
Intimacy and being known requires a deepening, a dropping in, a providing a sweet, safe space to see what unfolds. We give so much of our life energy to those around us and to all the tasks of our days that need doing. It can be deeply replenishing to bring all of their energy back into ourselves and let it sit and settle for a while. Intimacy is a tender thing that we will need to give ourselves time to cultivate. Intimacy with our own experience will show us what is so. Why not write from the body? “I am your thighs and I want to tell you…… “ or “I am your spine I’ve been wanting to say…..”
Like any good wildlife observer when we get to our sit spot we simply take a seat, back off and make space and allow the curious creatures inside us to enter in! If we are always busy crashing and bashing the wild things we hope to see may not come in close!
If we are so upfront, eager and up-close anyway, then there is literally no room for things to come in the closer- be that to another person, or our own inner world….
By simply making space to be with our inner experience we are creating space to know ourselves deeply. When we know ourselves we are clear on our own motives we have space to be skilful and we can act wisely, as we are in touch with our own good guidance.
The nuances of noticing.
Being intimate isn’t something that we can do with our mind. It’s a subtle thing- sensed in the body. We need to be located in the here and now in touch with all of her senses in order to be truly intimate with life. In intimacy with our experience there is allowing of our somatic sensations-the beating heart, the buzzy belly, the muttering mind.
We are both supremely strong and simultaneously vulnerable, vital, porous things underneath all the protective layers that we have built up on top. When we stay with ourselves – simply the somatic sensations of the body- without believing the accompanying story; then we make a space to be able to be with ourselves.
We can learn to listen in so much closer into the body over time, to focus on the felt sense. We can even explore how much can this physical form flex inside without me even moving a muscle? What happens to my heart if I breathe in deeper and slower? What is the “internal weather system” that is moving through me right now?
Birdwatchers go to hide to see their favourite creatures, We may need to find our own form of hiding too! Switching off our phone, blocking out alone time in the schedule and giving ourselves a languid and lovely few hours to unfold deeper into our own feeling body.
So sit still in this hidden secret spot and see what shows up at your door….
Allowing the animals to enter in
If we were to speak in metaphor we could say that the psyche is full of curious creatures, they shape shift and show us strange signs. As we sit still in our hide these curious creatures may well show up from within us. We get to watch them as they enter in.
When these creatures of our consciousness show up may we not judge them. May we simply observe them, staying still and seeing what happens if we offer them the spaciousness and graciousness to shoot at them (with camera or gun!) but instead to let them roam free and show us the habitual move that our mind makes.
May we trust that if something in our mind is growling then it’s probably because it’s hurt or afraid underneath. May we compassionately see the thorns in these creatures paws that make them angry or angsty. May we see the unseen creatures too that we can vaguely sense the outline of in our lives- the wise old owl within that has some oversight on the whole thing. Or the shaking mouse who may think we’ve forgotten to see him and jut wants to know that there is somewhere safe to go where he won’t be stood on or chased by the cat.
In allowing all the animals within us to approach us then we are actually coming into closer contact with our humanness- in all of its feeling-full experiences.
Socialising with the unseen.
There our times in our lives when we will crave company and it will simply not be easily evadible to us- be that because of covid or crazy schedules.
There is something important in the aliveness of nature. In the fact that it has a physical life force that flows through it. We can see how plants are- blooming or dropping, growing through cracks in the sidewalk or rising above the city.
It can be immensely reassuring to hang out in nature. To know that they world around us is a living breathing thing. To feel our reciprocal relationship with the trees as they take inner carbon and breath out oxygen as we contribute the opposite process. Nature provides a sense of living “otherness” – an intelligent animate world around us that can do a great deal to lessen our aloneness.
“I never really understood the word ‘loneliness’. As far as I was concerned, I was in an orgy with the sky and the ocean, and with nature.” – Bjork.
We can literally speak to the sky, or to the fire. To call out to the winds or to lay our weight down on earth and ask that she deeply holds us. The Buddha reached down to touch the ground to call on it as a witness to his moment of awakening.
It is radical in this day and age to be resourced. To not be bonkers busy and depleted.
It is almost counter cultural to feel well and happy here.
May we be radical rebels and feel part of it all:
Choosing to continue to cultivate intimacy with our inner world.