I think many of us will have had, at some time or another, the frustrating experience of wanting to build a bonfire for your children, a cosy fire in midwinter for you and your lover, or have a bar-b-q to entertain your friends; only to find that the fire doesn’t ignite properly. You try to hide your frustration, spend a lot of energy and time trying to get this fire to do what you want from it, and in the end having to admit that it is not going to happen and either give up completely, or start all over again. Many of you will be able to identify with this annoying scenario.

Creating the right foundation for intimacy is similar to this process of lighting a fire. It is what I call Step 4 in building intimacy. First, we must establish a safe and secure container for our fire. Open-ness, honesty, authenticity and vulnerability; these qualities comprise a safe container for intimacy. Next, we need the right fuel for the fire; touch in intimacy is as logs or charcoal for our bonfire or bar-b-q. But just as damp wood will not work in our bonfire, stressful performance centred touch will not work in intimacy. Intimate touch is called caress; it is first and most importantly needed not to create pleasure in your partner, but to connect you to the source of your own feelings and sensations within your body. Learning how to touch yourself and, ultimately, your partner for your own pleasure; that is the correct fuel for your fire.

Step 3 in building intimacy is to realize that you are the bonfire! You are the bar-b-q! Intimacy requires you to see and experience the beauty of it all, rather than to think of intimacy as being something you do. Intimacy is a state of being and that is your essential state of being. Most babies were conceived through intimacy, carried in your mother’s womb in a very intimate way and born into an intimate environment; a family. As a baby, you intuitively knew your need for warmth, safety, acceptance and love; nobody had yet taught you to resist or be afraid of love. Intimacy is the essence of who you are. Now you must learn to see yourself as you really are, not as you have conditioned yourself to see yourself. There is nothing wrong with you. You are beautiful. You are not trying to light a fire; you are the fire!

So now we have the container, the fuel and the overall image of what we want to have the perfect bonfire or bar-b-q. All that is needed now is to introduce a spark to ignite the fuel. This the next step in creating and building intimacy: Step 4 Desire. It is desire that will introduce a flame, and the fuel will spread and heat that flame. But what is desire? We think we know, because we think that to desire something is the same as wanting to have something; maybe we desire to have sex or we desire to have a relationship. Whatever we want that is based on future attainment isn’t real desire: it may be more aptly called longing or craving.

To desire is to want more of something we already have. Let’s illustrate by imagining your family, friends or lover gathered round the unlit fire. You are all laughing together, maybe sharing a glass of mulled wine. Desire is to want more laughter and enjoyment in sharing the company of your loved-ones irrespective of the quality of the fire or even the food that is ready to be prepared by the fire. Here’s another example: let’s imaging you and your lover are beginning to be physically intimate; maybe you are cuddling or spooning, caressing and connecting. You feel safe and warm. You are both enjoying the connection. What is desire in this situation? It is to want more of what you already have: more connection, more warmth, more safety. What do you want? Maybe you want to have sex or to swing from the chandeliers, but that is not desire. That is maybe going to happen, or maybe not. To desire is to deepen what you are already experiencing; more of what you already have. What do you already have? Step 1: Safety. Step 2: Touch. Step 3: Beauty. Now, discover how to cultivate true desire: Step 4 in building intimacy.

The amazing thing about desire is that it communicates: your partner feels your desire, and as a result, feels desirable. This in turn heats the spark between you and the fuel creates a flame. Heat is then a natural consequence of the flame. And if you maintain your desire for more of what you already have, the heat will increase as the flame becomes a roaring fire. In this way, you get what you want but the method by which you arrive is not through achievement, but though genuine desire.

Desire is not the same as attraction. Attraction is the experience of being drawn by something or somebody outside yourself. Desire is being drawn deeper into an experience within yourself. Desire is the secret of heating energy through containment, rather than spending or leaking energy through grasping, longing, clinging or groping. Energy heated through containment becomes “passion.”

Desire is ultimately an inbuilt need to merge with our opposite essence; masculine to merge with feminine, light with darkness, water with fire. It is only when we get beyond our thoughts, beyond simply the physicality of sex, beyond the separation that our ego constructs that this merging of opposites becomes possible. This is the miracle of intimacy. The discovery of fire.