self intimacy

Becoming Intimate with Ourselves

April 6, 2023

Welcome to the first newsletter of this new spring season. Before we dive back into our exploration of how we can find nourishment in our lives, I just want to extend a loving hand to you and yours. 

Springtime is a reminder that through the darkness comes the dawn, and the continual life cycle itself is filled with magic. May we each marshall our strength, learn the needed lessons, and ultimately stay open to what’s being birthed for our own highest good and for the highest good of the collective. 

I just want to recognize and acknowledge the pain that is present in the world at this time, and to thank you for taking time out of your busy lives to drop in with me. It really is such a gift for me to be able to share this conversation with you in this intimate way, so I hope you feel my sincere gratitude for us being here together. Now, let’s continue.

In this newsletter thread, we’re progressing on a journey through the soul, heart, body, and mind, in that order. So far, we’ve been focusing on nourishing ourselves at the soul level first, with the idea that following our soul-level calling can allow the rest of our lives to fall into place harmoniously and with ease. Today, we move on to nourishment at the heart level. 

The heart is all about relational fields. What are we becoming intimate with?

When talking about the heart, there are four aspects of intimacy classically described from many wisdom traditions. One of these wisdom traditions in particular was shared with me by a dear brother, Aubrey Marcus, in the teachings of “the Song of Songs” from the lineage of King Solomon. 

The “song” of these four aspects of intimacy are like Russian Dolls nested within each other. From the inside out, the innermost core is our relationship with ourselves. Next is our relationship with our partner and our family. Third is our relationship with community and culture. Fourth is intimacy with the whole world, with all of life, the cosmos, and with the Creative Source of All that Is.

Today, let’s focus on the first and fourth aspects and their relationship to one another. These two aspects make up our most intimate relationships: our relationship with ourselves and our relationship with the Divine. (Notably, there’s a bit more to unpack with the other two aspects of Heart–partnership/family and community/culture, and these will be discussed in the next newsletter).

Within this deep intimacy of self, it appears to me as more of a vertical orientation than a horizontal orientation. I picture a vertical totem pole with three primary parts stacked on top of each other.  The middle part of the pole is the known, egoic self, the “me in the day-to-day,” i.e. who I know myself to be through my perceptions, beliefs, and emotions. 

The upper part of the pole is my intimacy with the upper world, Creator God, Great Spirit, the Most High…the “name of a thousand names,” depending on the word and cultural view you align with most. This intimacy with God or Spirit is a unique relationship and is different for each of us. It can only be known by each person’s deep reflection. What is a person’s relationship with the creative source that spawned all life in the known universe?

The innumerable names for this creative force could be a theistic, God-facing spirit of divinity, or perhaps a non-theistic divinity like Gaia or Mother Earth, or a kind of less-identified, impersonal creative spark. The whole crux of the matter here is that regardless of which aspect of divine creative spark we are each most aligned with, it has come to be recognized that those of us who have a relationship with some creative intelligence larger than ourselves tend to live a more fulfilled life.

Simply put… by having an experience of one’s own existence being an intimate part of the greater divine orchestration of life, which is supported by a benevolent intelligence that governs the evolution of life as a whole, each of us can more easily recognize the immeasurable beauty of this precious, hyperconnected web of “all our relations.”

At the bottom of the pole, I see the deeper aspects of my more true self–you could say my intimacy with my soul. In many historic tales, the hero/heroine descends into their own psychic depths, the darkness of the inner shadow realm, in order to become more mature, transformed, and authentically whole. This process will typically reveal to me my own dharma, including what I’ve come to do, what I’ve come to offer the greater world, and who I’ve come to be

Getting intimate with our soul implies the willingness to go into our shadow and to be in the trenches of our own healing process. It’s the willingness to go into those areas we may not like about ourselves, in order to harvest all of our beauty and step into our fullest expression. 

Opening up this aspect of intimacy with ourselves asks us to get current and bring all of our parts home, including the shame, guilt, trauma, grief, loss, fear, and regret, anything from our past, fears of the future. All of it. 

Intimacy with this deep part of our authentic self takes courage and the understanding that this is allowing us to be more whole, more fully realized, and thus in a state of self-celebration.

It’s like bringing our full psychic field with all its baggage and beauty, into the present moment, into the here and now. The Smell of Rain on Dust by Martín Prechtel comes to mind because he speaks so poignantly about grief and praise, particularly about how we don’t do much to honor grief in our culture. We tend to step over the grief and engage in spiritual bypassing by overly focusing on the light and the praise, essentially dismissing the pain, perhaps because it is inconvenient, uncomfortable, and wrongly made weak by a production-oriented culture that focuses on outward appearances.

When we truly experience the interconnectedness of all life, what the Buddhist  “Father of Mindfulness” scholar Thich Naht Hanh calls “the state of interbeing,” it can feel both 

awe-inspiring and overwhelming. Indeed, when we become more fully in touch with the current state of the human and global crisis, it can seem like the grief is just too much to metabolize. 

Pick one crisis and focus on it for a moment: the scale and scope of almost incomprehensible never-before-seen human-caused biodiversity loss, the growing ocean acidification, the mounting extremes of chaotic weather cycles, the ongoing willingness to wage war against one another, the still raging famines plaguing a world of unprecedented affluence. The present day degree of collective human suffering is incredibly sobering. 

This is why Prechtel talks about grief and praise so much in this book, because the other side of grief is praise. They live with one another and alongside one another. To be in touch with our praise is to acknowledge its fleeting nature, and to be in touch with our grief is an act of celebration of what we have loved that has been lost.

At the end of the day (and as we’ve discussed in past newsletters on the Three Laws for Living), love is our blueprint. Love includes getting present to the grief of the world, while still being able to praise that which is beautiful.

So how can we hold both? How can we praise that which is beautiful, alive, and amazing, while honoring and holding the grief of the world? Furthermore, how do we learn to love all aspects of ourselves and all aspects of life? Can we actually get to a place where we welcome them all in–as Rumi says in The Guesthouse, “Greet each at your door laughing and invite them in.” Can we see the Divine in all life, even those things and aspects we would rather avoid, ignore, and make wrong?

This is the true dance of the awakened soul. This is the shared charge of our current stage of collective human development as we actively live into our greater potential. Like it or not, this is what we’ve all come to do.

In my next newsletter, we will continue this conversation about nourishing the heart as we move into a discussion around the remaining two aspects of intimacy: intimacy with our closest relationships/family and intimacy with our community/culture.  


Much love and many blessings to each of you, to all of us and for all that is.

To your health, 

Dr. Dan


Get healthy. Stay present. Help out. 

Ps. Thank You Life, our psychedelic therapy nonprofit, has officially launched and we are beginning to roll out our scholarship program to those in need. Please consider becoming a Monthly Supporter to pay it forward and help others gain access to psychedelic therapy.

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