Achieving real intimacy
It’s vital for mindful acts of emotional and spiritual intimacy to steadily develop as a daily practice for healthy sex. To that end, I’ve co-authored a book of daily meditations titled Mirror of Intimacy with a colleague at Center for Healthy Sex to help you reach your sexual and relational potential. (You can subscribe for free to receive the meditations by email here.)
Even momentarily concentrating on healthy solutions rewires psychological patterns to receive and share healthy sexual love in the present. Here are three meditations with the themes of power, madness and breath for you to ponder and practice this week.
Meditation 1: Power
“Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other.” — Carl Gustav Jung
All’s fair, they say, in love and war. If we equate the two, “winning” in love probably means exerting the most personal power: being the one who breaks up first or who has the upper hand in arguments. Certainly, personal power is a driving force in our lives. We’re all familiar with power-grabbing partners who force the other into an inferior position, whether consensually through domination and submission sex play, or covertly through emotionally and intellectually abusive behavior. There are also boundary breakers who get off on coercing lovers to commit acts outside their level of comfort, values or even safety. And of course, the ultimate fantasy of having every need satisfied by a doting lover can be especially seductive when we’re unfulfilled in key areas of our lives. But when this kind of win-lose thinking plays out in our relationships, it’s a signal to surrender to a higher power because human power trips inhibit intimacy.
We often enact the power struggles that we grew up with and which may have programmed us internally. So it’s important to observe how the power plays of our past show up in our present. Power playing is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Those who solely seek power will be enslaved by it. What we all desire is the responsibility that goes with power — having power to make sense of our own lives by integrating seemingly incongruent experiences into a holistic honest understanding of ourselves. When people replay childhood power trips, though, they’re caught in a psychological block — a dissociation in which the brain short circuits like a power strip flooded with so much power it trips the circuit. Shifting our paradigm from power over others to power with others allows us an organic, self-renewing source of strength. We may not be able to dictate our every wish, but we can always tap into our true power.
Daily healthy sex acts
What were the power dynamics you experienced growing up? Was there room for the healthy expression of personal power — of yours and of others — in your family and friendships?
One way to diffuse a power trip is through transparency: openly admitting your own motives, such as wanting to change others and the world. Is there any situation you’re involved in that would improve if you were to reveal your intentions?
Today, empower yourself to tap into the true source of your power.
Meditation 2: Madness
“Love is a smoke rais’d with the fume of sighs;
Being purg’d, a fire sparkling in a lover’s eyes;
Being vex’d, a sea nourish’d with lovers’ tears:
What is it else? a madness most discreet,
A choking gall and a preserving sweet.”
— William Shakespeare
It’s been remarked that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” Unfortunately many of us feel more comfortable with insanity than with the relative calm of emotional sobriety. The debilitating trauma of mental disturbance might be the devil we know, while the devil we don’t know might be healthier experiences that threaten our fear-based defense system. If we didn’t grow up in a peaceful family, if there were issues that were never resolved, they will resurface until addressed — and love and sex seem to be some of their biggest playing fields.
Of course, facing mental illness in family and caregivers, or in ourselves, brings unique challenges and requires support that is too often lacking. It wasn’t so long ago that those suffering serious psychological maladies were locked up in sanatoriums or attics never to be seen, much less served. We must work to overcome the stigma and misunderstandings surrounding mental illness. It’s easy to expect too much of people who are, in fact, psychologically sick. If someone had a broken leg, we wouldn’t expect her or him to hit the dance floor. But if people experience mental disorders — depression, dementia, ADD, PTSD, or other psychic illness — we often mistakenly expect them to keep pace with our personal and mostly learned, standards.
Just like physical illness, a mental illness can be temporary or lifelong. The fact is, we all experience lapses of mental wellbeing in our lives, including emotional blackouts, irrational thoughts and meltdowns. Again, understand that if it’s hysterical, it’s historical — we naturally become reactive when past trauma gets triggered. Our ability to reconcile our own inconstancies and our own insanity — temporary or not — directly correlates to our ability to accept the madness of others without being driven mad in turn.
Daily healthy sex acts
What does sanity look like to you? List sane behaviors and states, such as showing up on time, following through on intentions, having a peaceful and loving relationship with your beloved, enjoying hot and healthy sex that’s physically, emotionally and spiritually satisfying.
Recall moments when you’ve lost it. Are there common themes? Trace triggered outbursts to your past. Have you felt like this before? You deserve better than to lose yourself. If your car broke down, you’d get it fixed rather than pretend it didn’t happen. Reach out for help by sharing your truth with trusted others today.
Meditation 3: Breath
“In this very breath that we take now lies the secret that all great teachers try to tell us.” — Peter Matthiessen
Breath is our life force, the source of energy that fills our bloodstream with oxygen and our organs with vitality. Most people hold their breath during orgasm and tense up from that poor breathing habit. In fact, many women who struggle with orgasm are often simply not breathing during sex, while lack of oxygen in the pelvic area can induce male erectile difficulties. To control your breath consciously is to control your responses, and it’s key to focusing sexual energy. During sex it’s important for lovers to stop, relax and notice the sexual excitement in their bodies, to breathe together and feel the radiating warmth. Notice what you feel in this engagement — if time stops and your thoughts quiet down, if the pressures of the day and all of your expectations have, momentarily, vanished. This practice can be considered an ecstatic meditation with your lover, ergo sex may be your opening to a shared spiritual path.
Most mindfulness meditations ask us to focus on our breath. Similarly, your breathing patterns during lovemaking can be a focus to increase relaxation, vitality and orgasm. Pay attention to your breath and allow its flow to be easy, natural and fluid. Breathing with each other brings alignment and openness as a couple. Your expanded breathing can carry you to heights of sensation and depths of loving feelings as it modulates your hearts’ rhythms and synchronizes your energies. When you breathe to connect and attune, you expand your repertoire for spiritualizing sex. From this vantage point, prepare to meet the sacred in each other. Breathing, prayer or meditation sets the stage for inviting your highest selves to a sexual feast. Let your feminine energy worship the masculine energy and your masculine energy serve the feminine energy. Breathe and release into the erotic unknown.
Daily healthy sex acts
Practice inhaling and exhaling, which will seem like separate activities at first. The more you relax and focus on breathing, the more it will flow in and out. Notice when your sensations heighten and where your tensions release.
Focus your energy on relaxing and opening your body. Breathe into your abdomen, relaxing the lower half of your core.
With each in-breath through your mouth, direct energy into your pelvic region or vaginal canal, then exhale through your nose. Continue this breathing during intercourse and stay with the sensations in your body.