It's vital for mindful acts of emotional and spiritual intimacy to steadily develop as a daily practice for healthy sex. To that end, Center for Healthy Sex has created daily meditations to help you reach your sexual and relational potential. (You can subscribe for free 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 regret, reconciliation, and philia for you to ponder and practice this week.
Meditation 1: Regret
"Love is hurt with jar and fret;
Love is made a vague regret." -- Alfred Tennyson
Healthy regret inspires us to change our behaviors and, sometimes, our environs. But the regret we just can't shake reveals larger unresolved issues. Ironically, that gnawing regret stems from euphoric recall of emotionally or sexually gratifying memories. Our nervous system finds arousal through shame as well as delight and, when triggered, we often self-soothe by recalling moments that aren't purely positive. In fact, such memories often possess a re-traumatizing element. Thus, unconquerable penitence is a byproduct of trying to disengage from overwhelming current feelings through familiar fantasies. Recurring lapses into remorse signal that we're ignoring something painful.
Regrets usually center around key people in our lives, especially ex-lovers and family members. As we mull over conflicts with them, reactivity often engulfs our autonomy and integrity. We dismiss any personal shortcomings and construct elaborate defenses in mere seconds, blinding ourselves to our own culpable behavior. In 12-step programs, the amends process requires vigilant self-examination to find our part in every regrettable situation, and an appropriate revisiting through active imagining or direct interaction with the persons involved. This process of acknowledging others' versions of reality finally teaches us that, first, we don't have all the information and, second, most of reality is not of our making.
Reactive regret blocks the truth that we're exactly where we're supposed to be right now and that we can progress. We rail against ourselves for our imperfections, which only isolates us from others and the flow of life. But healthy regret brings the humility to recognize where we've erred and to admit powerlessness over our past mistakes. And with that humility comes the ability to let go of control, to make proper amends, and to move on to doing better.
Daily healthy sex acts
- Do you regret anything in the past? Do you regret not making more of your present? Tap into the feeling of regret and where it lives in your body. Breathe into that space with the confidence that everything is working out exactly as it should.
- Do your mistakes teach you, or do they only punish you? List past misdeeds and whether they still gnaw at you. You deserve peace of mind. Write a brief letter of acknowledgment or apology, place it in a safe spot, and let it inspire you to greater action, such as confession, restitution, charity work, and self-help.
Meditation 2: Reconciliation
"The practice of peace and reconciliation is one of the most vital and artistic of human actions." -- Thich Nhat Hanh
True reconciliation happens only when the parties involved take responsibility for changing themselves instead of each other. Even if it took two to tango, making up is an inside job. Our capacity to forgive those who have wronged us mirrors our ability to reconcile different aspects of our identity and history. Reconciling past trauma with present healing transforms us so deeply that acceptance and non-reactivity become possible.
Reconciliation requires us to reach beyond judging the other. If we can see every difficulty as touching some aspect of our soul, we will realize that our problem with someone else's behavior may reveal a self-doubt we have yet to resolve. Another advantage of choosing to see all that happens as if from God -- however we understand God -- is that this lets us stop playing God. Whenever we fixate on our judgment of anyone, we're playing God. Of course, separating from people who hurt us is healthy, but we can learn to open our hearts to them even when we no longer open the door to them.
Our very nature designs us for reconciliation. We integrate constantly fluctuating dualities of happy/unhappy, sure/unsure, healthy/ill. Our genes blend two ancestral lineages, maternal and paternal, into a chain of inherited traits and lived histories that unconsciously inform our lives from before our birth, regardless of the make-up of the family that raises us. Everywhere, we can see the damage done when entire peoples stay in endless conflict. Looking at all these calls to inward and outward reconciliation teaches us the lessons of humility and compromise. Splitting from others based on a false theory of self-preservation rarely results in peace of mind, for we're still at war with our thoughts and nature.
Daily healthy sex acts
- Make peace in your heart with those you've cut out of your life. Right now, send loving energy and forgiveness to all phantoms of your past, and allow yourself to be forgiven in this act.
- List the positive traits of those you're estranged from: ex-lovers, former friends, difficult relatives. Today, show appreciation of these very people in thought and word -- without inviting them back in your life.
- Is it time to reconcile with someone? Talk it over with three trusted friends whose conciliatory actions you admire. Provided there's no harm to anyone -- especially yourself -- make the call to repair what's broken in your relationship.
Meditation 3: Philia
"If a person loves only one other person and is indifferent to the rest of his fellow men, his love is not love but a symbiotic attachment, or an enlarged egotism." -- Erich Fromm
The ancient Greeks named kind-hearted love Philia. It's the love we feel for friends, family, and community, as well as for lovers we truly like. Platonic yet emotional, Philia lights up our hearts when we meet an old friend and inspires us to make new ones.
People sometimes throw over Philia for the more exciting Eros (erotic love) or the spiritually superior Agape (unconditional love). When some persons fall in love, they forget friends and family and abandon community allegiances in a seductive regression. After their isolating fixation inevitably ends, they seem to come out of hiding, exclaiming, "What was I thinking?" as they start to lean on friends and family again. But we don't have to exile any form of love to enjoy another, as if we possessed a finite quantity, or a single quality, of love to offer the world.
Indeed, we should question the limiting love that sees the couple as "us against the world." In childhood it's normal for feelings of powerlessness and disappointment with caregivers to turn into temporary feelings of rage, rejection, and hatred. But when elicited too repeatedly, such splitting from caregivers to protect autonomy proves traumatic for the child, who still depends on them for survival. When our capacity for Philia has been wounded, we create petty conflicts and readily feel persecuted.
As adults who no longer need those flawed caregivers, we can and must allow ourselves to experience deep loves: for ourselves, for a partner, for family, for friends, and for community. Regardless of the circumstances of our upbringing, let us cultivate Philia so that, along with Eros and Agape, we can weave ourselves with all the strands of love to others and to our world.
Daily healthy sex acts
- What feelings do you have toward family, friends and community? Expand your capacity for Philia -- regardless of whether those in your life deserve it.
- Consider the degree to which you balance romantic and platonic relationships, and whether you favor one over the other. Integrate your love experience with your life experience.
- Do you rely on certain relationships to absorb the stress of conflicted relationships, past or present? Care for those wounds, and then show up for others with kind and courteous love in your heart, as a person among people.
For more by Alexandra Katehakis, M.F.T., click here.
For more on conscious relationships, click here.
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