Becoming intimate with life

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Mindfully connecting with ourselves and with life

What does it mean to you to be intimate? Not just intimate with your partner, or with close friends or family - but intimate with life? When do you feel that tenderness and closeness that comes from real intimacy? That's something I've been reflecting on a good deal this month, as I've begun work on a new series of drawings I'm calling 'Breath Diary', which require long periods of mindful drawing with the breath.

Of the many ways to be mindful, embracing the experience of breathing, is I feel, the most intimate of all. It's so close the breath. So soft. So inward. When we become intimate with our breath, when we get to know its every texture, sigh, warm exhalation, and cooling inhale, we're becoming intimate with ourself and with our body, in a way that no other experience gives us. Mindful breathing invites us to be intimate with the deep spaces of the body, and the flow of our emotions. And if we're not intimate with ourselves in this way, how can we expect to be intimate with other people or with the world around us?

Becoming intimate with everything

Stop Look Breathe Create invites us to be intimate with everything, to experience each breath, each inhale and exhale, as an extension of the animate, breathing environment we live in - by turning our mindfulness first on ourselves (breathe) and then outwards (look, listen, smell, touch, taste) to the world. Gaze at the tree tops and just breathe with awareness - after a while it'll seem like they are breathing too and that there is no separation between your breath and theirs, indeed it can feel like the whole world is breathing you. Then the world itself becomes your intimate, your beloved.

When we move through the world in this way, slowly, breathing with awareness, we become intimate in ways that ensure we can't fail to become more intimate with our creating too. Stop Look Breathe Create helps us to become intimate with our process, with the materials we use, even with the surfaces we draw or paint or write on. And if we want to create art or writing or photography that has a sense of intimacy, that feels and reads intimately, then we have to start with being intimate with our selves and our creative process. We have to BE intimate, BE intimacy, embody it.

One minute of mindfulness to reconnect

If you'd like to explore becoming more intimate with yourself, the world and with your creative process, then why not try this very simple Mindfulness Activity for the next month. I'm inviting you to take one minute retreats throughout your day and Stop Look Breathe. Over breakfast. Scrolling through social media. Going to work. At your desk. Over your inbox. At lunch. When talking and walking and coming home and unwinding. Just check-in, Stop Look Breathe- and KNOW you're breathing in the following way.

  • Stop and close your eyes.

  • Look within and notice your breathing. KNOW that you're breathing. 

  • Breathe and notice what the breath is like. 

  • Just for a minute.

  • Is the breath slow or rapid?

  • High in your chest or low in the belly?

  • Free flowing or a little jerky?

  • Do you seem to be holding the breath? 

  • During this one minute of breathing you can also use the Look stage to notice something in your sensory environment and Breathe with it too. The clouds, a shadow, birdsong, the feel of your chair beneath you.

Try these one minute retreats for a month and see how they affect your sense of intimacy with yourself, the world and perhaps with your creating. Then next month, I'll reflect more on the qualities we need to nourish and the conditions we need to create in order to deepen our intimacy with life still more.