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Hi, my name is Jim Macdonald, and I have an odd assortment of interests. In no particular order, I love Yellowstone, I am an anti-authoritarian activist and organizer, and I have a background in philosophy, having taught at the college level. My blog has a lot more links to my writing and my other Web sites. In Jim's Eclectic World, I try to give a holistic view of my many interests. Often, all three passions show themselves interweaving in the very same blog. Anyhow, I think it's a little different. But, that's me. I'm not so much out there, but taken together, I'm a little unusual.

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    Tuesday, March 08, 2022

    Intimacy Journeying with Jim and Dee Elle

    My activism extends beyond my friendship with Aly. One of my big passions is tantra, and for the first time in my life, I feel ready to lead workshops related to intimacy. My girlfriend Dee Elle and I are going to do extensive workshops for couples (and some singles) on intimacy. We are offering a pre-intimacy workshop March 27, 2022, from 3-5 PM MDT. You can contact me by email at jsmacdonald@riseup.net, if you want more details.

    This essay describes what the intimacy journey we envision is.

    Summary: Intimacy is primarily about learning to love and see yourselves and others fully. More than a cure for pervasive loneliness, intimacy offers us the chance to live joyful lives in harmony with our deepest desires.

    Many things go into intimacy, some obvious and some less so. Intimacy is about learning how to communicate, integrating our sexuality into our lives, as well as learning how to trust and love ourselves and others. It is also about learning how to use breath, movement, sound, and essential oils, as well as re-engage each of the five senses into the intimacy process.

    Dee Elle and Jim are offering a journey into intimacy with couples or single people who can find a working partner for the journey. We will facilitate and provide the space, tools, and practices as we co-participate in the journey with you. We are not your teachers or gurus; we are fellow voyageurs who are taking responsibility for holding together the intimacy “spacecraft” that we are all flying to journey together.

    Dee Elle and Jim do not claim any special expertise in intimacy, but we do have a deep passion to make it our life’s work and do have special expertise in facilitating and organizing workshops. If what we are doing resonates with you, join us. If not, we wish you well on your own journey.

    We are offering an Intro to Intimacy pre-gathering online Sunday, March 27, 3-5 PM MDT, where we will introduce our work and model a step we believe is helpful toward creating a sacred container for intimate communication. Anyone can join this particular gathering; it is not restricted to couples, and there will be no couple pairing work.

    Intimacy: What Is It, What We Envision, and Why Us

    What Is Intimacy

    So, what is intimacy?

    Intimacy, in a dictionary sense (one might say a very non-intimate sense), means to be “closely acquainted, very familiar.” According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the adjective “intimate” only came into the English language in the 1630s, deriving from a couple Latin words, including intimare, which means to “make known, announce, impress” and intimus, which means “inmost, innermost, deepest.” By the 1640s, the noun “intimacy” came into English and was first applied to sexual intercourse in the 1670s but not really applied to sex in popular culture until 1882.

    That may seem like a long time, but what strikes us is that English has been around for more than 1,400 years, but the word “intimacy” has not even been around for 500 years and has only been applied in any noticeable way to our sexuality for the last 140. What a long time that we did not have a word in our language for a concept we hold so dear. And while we cannot speak for other cultures and languages, it makes us wonder if one reason people have such trouble finding intimacy is because it is only recently in our collective history that we have become acquainted with or familiar with a concept called “intimacy.”

    That is, we are not yet intimate with intimacy, and so is it any wonder we have such trouble finding it in our lives or knowing exactly what it is?

    Yet, intimacy is something we all want, even if we are scared to let it in. We all want to feel loved and seen and to be able to love and see. Loneliness is such a pervasive feeling for so many, and people go to great lengths to alleviate it. Yet, how many people actually work at curing their loneliness by being truly intimate? How many people actually seek that familiarity and love with themselves and/or with other people or know how to accomplish it?

    However, let’s look at it another way. Yes, we can look at discovering intimacy as the best cure for the negative feeling of loneliness, but that only shows the least interesting half of the picture. Intimacy is also the source of our highest possible joy. If you are intimate with yourself or a friend, parent, child, or partner, you possess love and understanding. Every intimate action rooted in love and understanding can only produce joy in your life because it meets our highest desire to be close.

    Okay, that’s perhaps still too dense. Let’s get more intimate with it. How about an example? Let’s say you are with a partner with whom you had natural sexual chemistry. At first, you had amazing sex, and it felt wonderful. Perhaps, that lasted for a while. However, you never worked on other important aspects of your relationship. You actually never talked about your sex life and what was working and what wasn’t. You didn’t learn each other’s history or perhaps the sexual traumas or high points of your lives. Outside the bedroom, you never developed methods for communication or saw if your visions for relationship aligned. Perhaps, you don’t trust him when he works late or talks with other women. Perhaps, there are a whole lot of things you also don’t like about yourself. “Does he only like me because I’m attractive? Does he know all the little things I don’t like about him? Why am I so indecisive? Am I even good enough for him?  Is he good enough for me? What is he holding inside about me? Does he know that I want children? What does he mean when he says, ‘I love you’? Hell, what do I mean when I say it to him? Why can I not stop being jealous? Did he notice me flirting with that man in the grocery store? And yes, the sex is amazing, but could it be better? I don’t know because we never talk about it.” Block by block, this stuff builds, and eventually the chemistry wears off. But, what if that were the opposite? What if you did fully love yourself? What if you had built communication over things both pleasant and unpleasant such that you actually knew each other? What if trust could be built? What if sex could be better? Would that not produce incredible joy? Yes! Yes! Yes! And more joy than perhaps is obvious at first glance.

    The last paragraph begins to move us closer to intimacy because it invites us to know ourselves and others more closely and therefore experience joy. So, for anyone who wants to let that kind of closeness and joy into your life, we invite you to keep reading. And if you are one of those afraid to keep going, you may certainly pause before you enter or not enter at all. But if you do enter, we are gratified by your trust in us and will do everything we can to keep you safe through this journey. Be warned, though, that the journey can be unsettling and take you to your edges of what you think is possible and may take you beyond those edges. We are dealing here with a lot of repression in ourselves and in our culture, signified by the fact that “intimacy” indeed is a relatively new word in our English vocabulary. It is not easy to break habits, particularly collective habits, but we have experienced enough to know that it is so worth it if we open our entire selves to intimacy.

    The Intimacy Journey We Envision

    We envision a shared journey into intimacy. We are your facilitators and co-participants into the journey of intimacy and not your gurus or teachers. The distinction here is important. Intimacy is not something a teacher can give you. We cannot give you a magic elixir or a pharmaceutical product or even – as much as we might like – a natural plant and say, “Take this, and you will have intimacy.” We also cannot give you a step-by-step guidebook that will automatically produce intimacy in your lives. Intimacy is a journey into knowing yourself and others in your life, and each of you is unique. And while there are surely some shared principles of intimacy, within those principles is a universe of exploration. So, let’s explore … together!

    What we can do is facilitate and join on the journey with you. There are tools we have learned either from our own individual experience or experience as partners that we can share that have worked for us. There are tools we have learned from others that we can impart. And because you are journeying alongside us, we open the door for you all to share your experiences and insights into intimacy that can potentially be of benefit to us all.

    Our plan is to share some of the tools and practices that we have so that you can practice this with yourselves and others. Mostly, for our work, we are interested right now in working with couples, or with individuals who can practice together in some way. While there are many other types of intimacy and while we may touch on the ways they are interrelated, we feel a special call to work with couples.

    Moreover, we plan practices around a broad range of topics that intimacy entails, including communication and sexuality. We will focus mostly at first on what we call sacred communication, as that is the basis for all intimacy. That is, we are going to learn methods for talking to each other and various methods for communicating. This is such a big topic that it pervades all the others and will never be far from us on our journey. Related to sacred communication, we are not going to shy away from sexual intimacy, an essential destination along our journey.  Because sexual intimacy is so badly understood and so badly integrated into most of our lives, we must journey to our sexual core to have full intimacy with ourselves and our partners. We expect most of the edges you may approach will be related to sexuality. Sacred communication helps us navigate sexual intimacy, leading us often to an ecstatic experience.

    Beyond sacred communication and sexual intimacy, we believe there are undergirding topics that are also necessary principles of all intimacy. Some topics are obvious and perhaps others less so. Among the obvious topics we will explore are the essential role of loving oneself and the centrality of trust. Less obvious ones are the importance of breath, movement, and sound to intimacy work. As one example, we dance, and we’re going to invite you all to dance a lot, not simply because it is fun but because we believe this actually is a necessary component to intimacy. We are going to sing and scream and breathe and laugh a lot together. We will also talk about essential oils and how rediscovering our connection with plants is so important. Additionally, we will look at intimacy as it applies to each of our five senses, as well as to our hearts and even our minds. There are many other topics of exploration as well, including how to navigate power dynamics in relationships, especially around money. Many of them will arise as we become more intimate with all of you.

    We envision that this work will and must have some in-person components. The groups we put together will always meet together in person at the beginning and at the end of our journey together while we stay in touch through online and phone gatherings over the interim. For us, intimacy is in part a journey into our bodies and into the senses, though it is also a journey away from merely our bodies and into the work of energy and connection with our souls. We do not believe we do justice to intimacy if we are not able to create workshops where we cannot actually see and hear each other. However, we also understand the practical realities of our lives and that it would not be logistically possible right now for us to form a group that could meet only in person. Moreover, intimacy is possible at physical distance, and the efforts we make at communication when at a distance actually can teach us in many ways how to love and see the other person wherever our bodies are. We have firsthand experience, which for us began as a long-distance relationship. The intimacy in our relationship has traveled well, and it can also for us intimacy voyageurs whether we interact in person or remotely.

    Therefore, expect at least two full weekend in-person gatherings and weekly or biweekly online gatherings with an ongoing community of engagement online or by telephone. Expect exercises around communication, sexuality, breath, movement, sound, and many other topics. And expect to be able to work with a partner on these practices where that is applicable.

    Why Us

    We imagine that people will wonder why we have decided to take this journey together and what makes us qualified to facilitate a working project on intimacy. Some will note that we have been together for a relatively short period, and each has our share of failed romantic relationships and friendships. Why should you put your trust into us?

    Of course, this is an excellent question and one we take seriously. It would certainly be arrogant to say we have any more figured out than any of the rest of you. Indeed, we may have less figured out than some of you, and we are so hoping that is the case and that we can learn more from you.

    What we do have is a shared desire to express what has worked or has not worked in our experience as well as a deep and passionate desire to make intimacy and helping others on the path to intimacy our life’s work. Moreover, we do have significant years of experience facilitating groups of people. Dee Elle has been running workshops for many years and has a strong core of people who can attest to her skills. She is an expert in essential oils and has decades of experiences with plants and plant medicine. She has applied her insights in recent years to sharing tools to help people align their lives with their desires. Jim has been teaching classes, as well as organizing and facilitating meetings for decades. He taught college-level philosophy classes, has organized for many years as an activist, and he has facilitated thousands of meetings and gatherings both as an activist and for his day job. Besides being a licensed Chakradance facilitator, Jim also has been trained on many of these subjects through the Ecstatic Living Institute, an organization that offered intimacy workshops based on the writings of Margo Anand and affiliated with SkyDancing Tantra Institute USA.

    But this is ultimately a simple act of trust. If it resonates with you, stick with us. If it doesn’t, go on your own path. We really believe that this is a space of exploration that is being underserved or has been taken over by people offering false step-by-step solutions. We believe that intimacy, rather than being a how-to guide imparted by a guru, is a path of exploration and discovery that we must undertake with each other. Therefore, we are taking the brave step to get the ball rolling. Indeed, as part of the intimacy work we are doing with each other in our personal relationship, we both feel called to take this journey together. And so we are.

    We deeply desire to love and see you for who you are and witness you as you journey into loving and understanding yourselves and others more.

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