Intimate couple
Photo: Comstock/Thinkstock
Becoming truly intimate with someone isn't a casual act. It means you're showing your vulnerable side, and for many, that's not very easy to do. Ed and Deb Shapiro show you how to open your heart and soul to connect on a deeper level with your partner—while loving yourself too.
Intimacy is a hot and often difficult subject. It implies letting someone else get close to you to see all your secrets and hidden places. An intimate relationship means you are willing to let go of your defenses and be seen by another for who you are, including all of your vulnerabilities and weaknesses—into me you see—which can be terrifying.
Intimacy can cause fear, apprehension, even a shutdown of feelings. Rather than exploring the longed-for togetherness, it can all get too overwhelming, causing you to retreat back into your own corner, hesitant to reach out again. Being seen so closely can feel as if you are totally exposed with nowhere to hide. So then you resist and put up an invisible wall in an attempt to protect yourself from such exposure, and from rejection and hurt. However, as much as this wall may protect you, it also shuts you off from your own feelings.

One of the great benefits of a loving relationship is that it provides a safe space for all of these fears—which have never before seen the light of day—to be acknowledged, known and held. In other words, love brings up everything that isn't love. This is especially true as a relationship enters into a deepening familiarity. In the midst of all the good stuff, past hurt, insecurity or self-doubt can emerge, straining a relationship. Yet moments like this are an invitation to embrace yourself and breathe into the fearful places so you can come defenseless into a relationship.

How Ed and Deb overcame their fears and found each other

Ed and Deb Shapiro
Photo: Courtesy of Ed and Deb Shapiro
Deb: "Ed and I thought we had nothing to hide from each other, but as trust grew, it exposed all those corners where we hadn't looked. Pain that had happened years previously was suddenly alive again, creating an emotional roller coaster. My father was abusive, had a big temper and lost it very easily. Somewhere inside, as I grew up, I unconsciously put my own anger on hold. My first marriage ended because my husband would get angry. At first, I refused to respond, but one day I couldn't control myself any longer. The sight of my own anger freaked me out, and that was it. I was gone. When I married Ed, I discovered I had a whole storeroom of anger locked away inside, but now I was able to face it for the first time. He gave me permission to be angry; he was willing to receive it. I could release it without fear of recrimination."

Ed: "My mother died when I was 5 days old. Growing up, I always felt alone, that no one could really love me, no one knew me. I didn't know how to get close to someone, so I learned to cover it up by being an extrovert. I was voted one of the most popular at school and won all the dance contests. But I lived behind a facade. I even became a monk, not realizing it was a way of protecting myself from letting anyone get too close. All that to hide how fearful I was! As Deb and I grew closer, there were many moments when I would feel so exposed, as if I were the least lovable person in the world, and I would wonder how she could possibly love me. That someone I loved could truly love me back was immensely liberating."

If you look at the word more closely, intimacy also implies getting to know yourself more deeply—into me I see. It suggests that the more you know yourself, the less need there is to hold back or have secrets—you can be open and accepting of your faults. This enables you to be much closer to someone else. When you can make friends with yourself, you can make friends with others.

Intimacy is not something that can be forced or pulled out of a hat; it comes through the letting go of resistance, through softening and opening to yourself and to each other. This doesn't mean you have to be perfect before you step into intimacy—the monsters don't just pack up and move out overnight—but simply that the person you are in this moment is open and willing to share.

How meditation can help you be more accepting of yourself

Woman meditating
Photo: Thinkstock
Meditation enables you to accept discomfort instead of trying to smooth over or deny the bumps. You can accept embarrassment and shame, gently embracing whatever is there. Accepting yourself as you are is immensely liberating. As one of our teachers said, "Never be embarrassed by yourself."

Accepting and Loving Yourself!
Find a comfortable place to sit with your back straight and close your eyes.

Become aware of your breath. Silently repeat three times: "I am aware that I am breathing." Your breath is your best friend...the closer you are to your breath, the greater the feeling of inner peace.

Now bring awareness to your physical body. Silently repeat three times: "I am aware of the whole of my body." Visualize your body as if it were a live in this temple your whole life...know that your body is a blessing, a great gift.

Now focus awareness to the center of your heart...breathe into this space, into your heartspace...your heart is like a beautiful flower opening in the sun. Silently repeat three times: "I am aware of my heart opening."

Your life is a gift to be cherished...treasure yourself always. Silently repeat: "My breath is my body is my heart is open and loving."

When you are ready, take a deep breath and open your eyes.

Ed and Deb Shapiro are the authors of Be The Change, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World. They are featured weekly contributors to, and Ed and Deb write Sprint's The Daily CHILLOUT inspirational text messages. They have three meditation CDs: Metta: Loving Kindness and Forgiveness, Samadhi: Breath Awareness and Insight and Yoga Nidra: Inner Conscious Relaxation. Deb is also the author of the best-selling book Your Body Speaks Your Mind, winner of the 2007 Visionary Book Award.

Keep Reading More from Ed and Deb Shapiro:
Turn your fear into courage
How meditation can save your relationship
Can meditation be sexy?


Next Story