Monday, July 18, 2011

Engaging with Sexual Desire on the Spiritual Path

I'm pretty sure that my approach towards sexuality on the spiritual path will seem "unorthodox." Of course, most religious traditions in Western Culture have almost no approach to sexuality, so this shouldn't be surprising. Most of the time, the approach is total denial of sexuality, which to me is totally dysfunctional. Many of you who have been reading my blogs know that I'm very pro-sex, whatever that might mean. I suppose it means that I acknowledge that human beings are sexual creatures. This shouldn't be a revelation, but because of the denigration of sexuality in this society, it may be for some of you. Just as we all have urges to eat, connect with others, breathe, create, and much more, we all have urges to have sex.

Urges and Desires for Sexual Connection
I've already blogged about the difference between an urge and a desire on this link. I encourage you to read it to understand my approach to this topic. There's a very different thing going on with an urge to have sex or have a sexual connection than the the desire to do so. The desire is putting its sense of fulfillment in an experience. An urge doesn't have expectations around it. It comes and goes from its own impulses.

Subsequently, much of the work around sexual desire is about figuring out what you think you're going to get. People spend countless hours devoted to finding romantic partners as preludes to sexual connection. So, you're obviously looking for something. There's a lot of different things that go into this topic. Some people want to feel connected, but others just don't want to feel alone. Do you see the difference there? The latter is acting out of fear, so already, there's an additional element being brought into the bedroom. The former is a little cleaner, but perhaps, that person can only really feel connected through sex. That can make all other types of connection and intimacy seem inferior. There are a lot of issues that get caught up with sexuality, and then after a long slow simmer and stirring, they get turned into that desire. And the desire says, "I will only be happy when I have sex."

Unfulfilling Sexual Connections: When the Bedroom Is a Warzone
I've mentioned two issues, but the number of issues that get drug into the bedroom can be extensive. The unworked out issues from past lovers, fears around performance, fears about intimacy, desire to connect in only specific ways, sexual abuses, and so much more fill up the bed until there's really no room for love and intimacy. Subsequently, tons of people have terrible sexual experiences and often come to several conclusions, including:
  1. There's something wrong with their partner (And maybe there is)
  2. They need more experience (And maybe they do)
  3. They don't really like sex
  4. Sex is evil
I don't really believe in the last two, and the first two are pretty irrelevant. While this post isn't so much about how to have great sex with your partner, it is important to say that who you choose is important. But it's even more important to know who you are in your own sexuality.

Building Your Own Personal Sexual Practice
I've talked a lot about this, but fairly vaguely. There are a couple of elements that I use and suggest in creating a personal sexual practice. It helps to move the space beyond masturbation and into the spiritual sexual realm. There's nothing wrong with masturbation and just getting off, but because of what I'm talking about in this context, let's take it up a notch.

What you need: Space. You need space for privacy to explore yourself. All of yourself. So much of the time, sexuality gets focused on very specific regions, but you are much bigger than that. I encourage you to bring attention to all areas of your body and to do so focusing on a sense of loving kindness and service towards yourself.

What goes on in the heart. What goes on in the heart opens up a lot of other spaces for experience, pleasure, love, and energy. This is equally true for guys as gals. Guys like to forget their hearts, but part of this shift in consciousness is a remembering of that space. So dudes, you got emotions; this is a great space to start to feel them. Ain't nobody here to judge you, and if you do feel judged, you know exactly what dude is doing that.

What to do. It's different for everyone, but I encourage people to focus on relaxing their bodies through breathwork as they self-stimulate. Taking the breath all the way down in the very base of you is a powerful practice. It's the start of opening up to energetic channels in your body that allow you to move and cycle the orgasmic energy throughout your body. Further along, you'll learn how to simply allow it to go where it needs to go and trust in the intelligence of that energy (and it is very intelligent in going where it needs to go).


What you can't do. You can't get into controlling the experience. You're going to have to let go of trying to achieve specific experiences. I encourage people to think of this in terms of guiding the experience and not controlling it.

This is a whole other type of control for guys, but stopping ejaculation is important until they can really understand how their energy moves and how to replenish it. Men are built to send energy into women to create life. That's the procreative process. However, since this process in this blog isn't about creating children, it's important to understand that men can get really depleted as they start a regular practice (ideally daily or every other day). Learning to separate orgasm and ejaculation can be one of the first mind-blowing breakthroughs that pretty much any guy can have with his sexuality.

Understanding Urges and Cultivating Ownership of Sexuality
A lot of people don't feel "horny" enough to have a sexual practice every day, but I think most sexual teachers will tell you that that often has to do with mental preconceptions as well as lack of work in that space. A lot of people's sexuality is pretty dormant if not repressed, so urges towards sexual connection are often over-looked or are being unconsciously compensated for with other actions. It's probably buried pretty deep. Perhaps, working out has been the compensation for when you start to have sexual urges. Since you haven't been expressing your sexuality or haven't felt comfortable doing so, that became the way that you blew off some steam.

The beautiful part of developing your own practice is that you begin to fully own your sexuality. You begin to understand how to bring the male and female energies of yourself together. The power around that in your orgasm is immense. I was working with a student who recently discovered the power of her own orgasm. This is an incredible thing because it illuminates to us that we truly have all of our greatest fulfillment, love, pleasure, and energy within us. But nobody can really tell you this. You have to experience it.

Sacred Sexuality Deepens in Yourself, Then in Partnership
To come into sexuality without the desire or demand for fulfillment from a partner is a profound place. It moves sexuality into the space of love and service. This service isn't servile; it's a deep honoring of the beauty of another as well as honoring the gifts that s/he has to share with you. It also takes you out of a sense of scarcity around connection. You feel so completely connected with yourself that to take a partner becomes optional, and when the urge comes, it's clean of guilt, shame, fear, and many other things. Sure, nothing is perfect, but you'll know that there's a big difference. And so will your partner.

One thing I would like to add in is that this isn't about burning out or purging desires through lots of sexual experiences. Have lots of sexual experiences within a meaningful and loving framework, but don't try to overcome desire. I see some methodologies going on out there that think if you just "do it" enough that you'll burn out the desire. It'll be gone, and you'll be free of it. Maybe that works for some people, but I think it's crude. And it can be abusive to the space because it's trying to control the situation and achieve another "desired" outcome. The deepest kinds of sexuality truly are those where the outcome is secondary to the process. But then again, isn't that the deepest truth to the spiritual journey anyway?

A Last Word About Sexual Shame
Because of how badly sexuality has been treated by some religions and this culture, it's important to encourage you to journal out or talk with a devoted partner about the issues that come up that block you from feeling sexual, exploring your sexuality, and achieving orgasm. Shame tends to be the biggest one, but there are others. All I can say is that in anyway that you reject any part of your being, you are not whole. I can also say that the profound confidence, love, and internal connection that you can have with yourself is a life-changer. So much creative energy can move through you, and you may have no idea just how far you can go into personal intimacy. It's a deep ocean. Find your water-wings and head out, and as you do, I'm sure that you'll find someone who can swim out with you too.
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