Here I am, with Van Gogh’s “Starry Night Over the Rhône.”
I’ve always loved art, though I admit that I usually stroll through the gallery rooms rather quickly. It’s a seeking. A restless seeking until the moment something grabs me, and I am consumed by it.
Today, I came to see an exhibit on Monet and yet, it was with Van Gogh that I fell in love instead. I was never a fan of him and even though I had seen so much of his work online, I just never felt much. Until today.
And here I am. Sucked into it.
It’s been an hour and a half.
In complete silence, I am admiring each stroke of brush. Adoring each little star in its midnight sky. My eyes are zooming in on everything, touching each shade of colour — I’ve become an investigator. So many delicate details, how is it so alive?
The paint is laid so thickly on the canvas and the palette of the brushstrokes are so visible, so clear, as if there is no doubt on how they feel and what they want to do. And yet, it is so emotional and sensitive and expressive. It is all encompassing and capturing of each moment.
It is not perfect, but the brushstrokes aren’t afraid. They know that the only perfection is imperfection — and this is what makes something beautiful and unique.
They know that sometimes it’ll get messy, but they allow themselves to get messy because in messiness there is fertility.
How is the night sky moving? It took years for people to figure out how Van Gogh’s brushstrokes made the sky move. He was honest, never paid, and never recognized — but he stayed true to himself. It takes courage to stay true to ourselves and the older we get, the more pressure there is to conform.
But we must stay true. Because there is a heart on the line — our heart.
And why would we ever suffice for anything less than brushstrokes that make the night sky move?
This is art. Loving. Loving is art.
Because we need to be with it, spend time with it. Explore it. Nurture it. Study its curves, shapes and colours. Feel it and surrender to it.
Lovers finally meet when one has the courage to unveil their soul and the other has the humility to surrender unveiling theirs too.
Love is everything.
And it’s unexpected. We go in for Monet but fall in love with Van Gogh instead.
Loving, just like art, requires intimacy.
Intimacy is when all of us are opened to receive, feel, and experience another. The most intimate thing we can do is to allow another the safe space in which they can just be themselves in their vulnerability.
It takes time and patience. But 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 we love anything when we don’t truly see it nor connect to it? Anything in life is special, only if we spend more time with it. The rose in The Little Prince. Our childhood toy.
With all of this modern romance and disintegration of values, there is a new type of poverty; the poverty of souls and hearts. No worries though — just swipe another human on an 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.
A person beside me is on his phone, tagging where he is and how cool it is, though he hasn’t even looked at the painting once. Couples eat their dinners silent. They are more interested in taking photos than talking. Ghosting, breadcrumping — I do hope we remember that these are the 101 manipulation tactics of narcissists and sociopaths.
It just makes me wonder how much we miss when we race through the rooms. It makes me sad how sex has become insignificant as people change partners like tissues. And apparently loyalty is on the extinction list.
Our sexual energy is so beautiful and powerful. It is to be nurtured and treasured. Sex is a celebration of our love. A merging of our souls and dharmic paths. And the sexual sensation is so much more ecstatic when it’s built on intimacy.
So, how can we build deeper intimacy?
The Safe Space.
Creating a safe space allows us to be vulnerable with each other, which is the first step to intimacy. The more we accept ourselves with all of our flaws and insecurities, and the lonely, dark, abandoned corners within us, the more accepting we’ll be of others.
Only then we’ll be able to hold space for them; only then we’ll have the capacity to hold space for someone’s feelings and wounds.
We need to provide the nurturing environment for an experience to happen. Imagine a rose. She doesn’t just fall from the sky. We need soil, seeds, sun, and water for life — all of which look and feel nothing like a rose. And yet, they are all needed to cultivate and nurture the environment in which the rose may bloom.
In the same way, we need to create the nurturing environment for intimacy and vulnerability. We need to be compassionate, empathetic, kind, nonjudgmental, noncritical, and trustworthy. All we are doing is just providing a safe space for an experience; allowing someone the freedom to open up to us and to be themselves truly.
Whether they do or not — it is their choice. Love is just holding that space for someone and allowing them into it.
Intimacy. Into me see. Before we look into someone else’s, we need to see ourselves clearly. We need to be comfortable with ourselves to allow another to see us. Truly see us. It is about trust. It is about vulnerability. Nothing ever can exist without these. 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.
At the core of all of us, behind our closed doors is the desire to be seen. So often we look away when something is uncomfortable. Don’t look away. Look at it all. The good, the bad, and the “ugly.”
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.
Relationships 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, favourite 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 and 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 with physical touch. Softly and slowly. As if your fingers are feathers. Just run your fingers on their skin. Touch their hands. Hold hands. Touch their neck. Their lips. Their palm lines. 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 the hands become an extension of the heart.
When receiving a caress, oh Princess, enter into it as everlasting life ~ Shiva Sutra
You’ve seen within your lover with your eyes. You’ve heard them with 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?
The brushstrokes. The scars on our bodies and our imperfections are the perfect art. They show us how far we’ve come. They show us the roads we’ve taken to finally have our paths cross.
Our bodies are our temples, so we need to caress each other with love and compassion. The space we’ve built together is sacred. It’s safe. It’s a temple for our love, so we need to respect it and keep it private.
May be if I had spent an hour and a half in front of another painting, I would have felt close to it also.
Sometimes, things don’t work out in life. Engagements, marriages, relationships, and even friendships fall apart. And we continue on our individual paths. But getting to know another person deeply is what we will end up remembering. It’s what makes life beautiful and meaningful.
We don’t have to end up together at the end. An end is not a failure.
Let every day be a painting. 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 we can find in our partner — a new colour, a new sparkle, a new curve of a brushstroke, a new feeling.
And isn’t that loving?
*Originally posted on Thought Catalog