3 Mindfulness Practices To Deepen Intimacy With Your Partner
We're often told that intimacy is a key ingredient of any successful relationship. But what really is intimacy, and how do we deepen it in romantic partnerships? To find out, we asked marriage and couples' therapist Maya Lane, MFT, and yoga teacher and breathwork facilitator Kimi Moon, RYT-400, all about the meaning of intimacy and how to mindfully cultivate it.
What is intimacy?
The Latin root of the word intimacy is intima, which means "innermost truth," Lane explains. During the honeymoon phase, intimacy is often associated with togetherness, she adds. But as a relationship develops, partners tend to assert more boundaries and independence.
"This is a different stage of intimacy based in truth, where each person is not being what their partner wants them to be, but they're being how they authentically are," says Lane. "If a couple can get through that stage and accept the other person's truth, that really does bring people closer."
And showing up from a place of truth ultimately starts with self-acceptance. Moon cites Buddhist practitioner Jack Kornfield's words, "May I love myself just as I am," as a daily mantra she uses to create a pathway to deepen intimacy. "When you learn to love yourself at the moment—not a future version—there's an energetic shift," she says. "It allows your partner to love you in that same way and gives them permission to do that for themselves."
How to cultivate it.
These three mindfulness practices can help you better understand your partner (and yourself) and foster new levels of intimacy:
Better understand your truth.
Deepening intimacy with a partner starts when we deepen awareness of our own truth. "This is a personal journey of really getting to know what is truth and what is authentic versus performative?" says Lane. Cultivating this kind of awareness is an evolving process that can be done using many different modalities. Maya offers the following as one meditative method to try:
- Close your eyes.
- Connect to your breath.
- Drop into your heart. "Feel into the compassion and the connection that the heart holds," she says.
- Drop down into your belly. "Your gut has a deeper knowledge and a deeper intelligence," she adds. "This is really about how to anchor into a knowledge that there is a deeper capital-S 'Self' that does hold truth."
- Invite the deeper knowledge to present itself by connecting to the sensations you feel here. Meet sensations and thoughts with curiosity and compassion.
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Cultivate attunement in sexual intimacy.
By expanding our definition of sexual intimacy, we can create more pathways for connection. "I think some couples get into a rut of 'this is what sex has to be' and then there's an avoidance around it," says Lane. However, she believes that healthy sexual intimacy is nuanced. It's always ebbing and flowing based on what is available to us at the time.
"For women, it will feel different each cycle of the moon. Different weeks will have different archetypes," she says. An awareness of these natural shifts in sexual desire will create a freer, more in-sync environment for partners.
One exercise Lane recommends is simply asking yourself, What feels available today? "Maybe it's a big hug or cuddling?" says Lane. It could be a verbal expression of desire for your partner while acknowledging that you don't need to act on it. Whatever it looks like, this awareness and acknowledgment can create a connection.
"It comes back to presence and truth and how to be in your own awareness of what's available to you," says Lane. "And to learn how to read and attune to your partner."
Create deeper spiritual and emotional connections.
Through breathwork and meditation, we can "strengthen our bond, open doors for communication, and create a container for vulnerability as a unit," says Moon. For deeper spiritual and emotional connection, try her 20-minute couples' mindfulness practice:
1. "Start with a one-minute grounding meditation simply sitting together with eyes closed, focusing on the breath," says Moon.
2. Next, individually write down your answers to the following journal prompts:
- I was proud of my partner when....
- I was thankful for my partner when...
- Something fun my partner and I did together...
3. Sit back-to-back for five to eight minutes. "Begin to breathe deeply into your belly up into the heart space, letting go through the mouth," says Moon. "Naturally, you'll notice your breath start to link."
4. "End with this healing prayer, 'Thank you, I love you, please forgive me.' Send this message to yourself, to your inner child, to your partner, and to the unit of your partnership," says Moon.
5. Gaze into each other's eyes in silence for 30 seconds to a minute. "The trust built on an energetic level during this practice is powerful," she says.
6. Join for a long heart-to-heart connection hug.
7. End by sharing your responses to the three prompts with each other. "It's easy to take each other's presence for granted. It's really nice to hear these sweet simple things and be reminded of the support, gratitude, and fun in the partnership."
The bottom line.
Developing intimacy in a relationship ultimately requires being truthful with your partner about how you're feeling at any given time. This can be easier said than done, but these mindful exercises can help you tap into your inner worlds together and emerge closer because of it.
Wallace Morgan is an artist and freelance writer based in Los Angeles, California. She received her bachelor’s in journalism and music business from the University of Georgia. Her work has been published and featured in Rolling Stone, Alt Citizen, Thread, and The Revue, among other publications, podcasts, blogs, and newsletters. She is the creator of MOXI MANAGEMENT where she’s written copy for Republic Records, Atlantic Records, and Sony Records, among others, and self-published her own online magazine from 2017-2019.
As a writer, poet, and singer-songwriter, Wallace uses her platform to promote authenticity, mindfulness, mental health, and equality. You can find her work at www.wallacemorgan.com and www.moximanagement.com and connect with her on Instagram and Tiktok @wallace__morgan.