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 stress, circumstance, and tolerance for you to ponder and practice this week.
Meditation 1: Stress
"For fast-acting relief, try slowing down." -- Lily Tomlin
The culture at large seems to put pressure on us at every turn, from how to look, to what to drive, to how to smell better. We're constantly bombarded with images and messages to become a better and better person. But all the external pressures of adulthood that derail so many of our days really stem from internal pressure. People often blame stress on "out there," but if it weren't for expectations, comparisons, and fear, we would remain calm and serene in any storm. Serenity sometimes means there's nothing we can do about a certain situation. How do you accept failure as a natural part of life?
To get relief from daily and/or lifetime pressure, people will often sexualize their stress. Not a bad idea, right? You might see an attractive person and feel turned on romantically or sexually. Seems simple enough, but unpacking these moments will often reveal hidden stress fueling the thoughts and feelings. Let's say you don't like a certain part of your body, so to suddenly encounter your ideal body image in another might trigger that stress. We all have distinctive relational deficiencies, which when triggered can similarly become sexualized, releasing dopamine in the brain, inducing a feel-good state to cover up such stress.
Sex itself, the entire concept of sex, can become a stress. Sexuality emerges in a haphazard way, oftentimes like a beguiling weed rather than a cultivated garden. We spring from seeds of older plants, namely our parents, and our many budding relationships sprout up, sometimes without us even knowing with whom we're really in relationship. A cultivated garden becomes a container for the beauty of flora; cultivate your sexuality consciously, and don't let it become a container to mitigate stress.
Daily healthy sex acts
- Watch where sexual or romantic feelings occur in your day, and try to trace whether they might stem from stress.
- Take an inventory of your recent sexual experiences to find out if relief from stress is a motivating factor. Does stress-relief sex measure up to mindful and mutually present sex?
- Let go. Let go of the notion of letting go. The next time you feel stress or pressure, let go. Let go of letting go. No situation has ever been solved through submitting to stress and pressure.
Meditation 2: Circumstance
"Thus we see, too, in the world that some persons assimilate only what is ugly and evil from the same moral circumstances which supply good and beautiful results -- the fragrance of celestial flowers -- to the daily life of others." -- Nathaniel Hawthorne
The conditions we're living in at any given moment color our perceptions of our own and others' lives. We're all born into unique circumstances and cannot ever completely know another's circumstance, no matter the depth of love and intimacy shared. This includes our life partners and even our own children, because one's circumstance takes place on many levels, including the material, emotional, mental, and spiritual. It's always curious to hear people gossip about the personal lives of celebrities, as we seldom know the real life situations of our own friends and family, much less people we've never met. In fact, we rarely know our own lives half the time. We're continually faced with confounding circumstances that try our patience, perhaps in an unending process of spiritual refinement.
When it comes to the circumstances that set the stage for our lives from the moment we are born, we may wonder whether caretakers create or react to a child's personality. The dispute between nature vs. nurture is longstanding, but in recent years we've come to believe that the shaping of a child comes from both. Perhaps all potential influences co-exist in a symbiotic state, a house of mirrors from personal to interpersonal to planetary. Ultimately, one of the only knowable truths is your circumstance, which includes your actions but also your perceptions. Perceiving others as suffering more or less than we do can be as much a part of our circumstance as the home we live in, the work we have to do or the relationships we've built. May we hold a place of compassion for the circumstances of others, as we know from experience the overriding import of our own.
Daily healthy sex acts
- What are your current circumstances? List the first five that come to mind on a blank piece of paper. Now draw a circle, and create a pie chart for each circumstance and the amount of "pie" it eats up in your life.
- Did you list material circumstances, or did you include emotional or psychological circumstances too? What are the top five emotional circumstances of your life right now? How much do love, anger, grief, and other feelings emerge on any given day?
- How about the top five mental circumstances? Do you have dominant thoughts? What do you think about throughout the day? How does your mentality inform your circumstance?
- Meditate on the external circumstances that indirectly affect your life -- the circumstances of your lover, family, friends, community, or world.
Meditation 3: Tolerance
"I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love." -- Mother Teresa
Our capacity for tolerance commonly means accepting differences, but it also signals our ability to tolerate intimacy. We learn to tolerate discomfort, as well as stress, anger, grief. For those who grew up in dysfunctional households, we learn to tolerate functionality. Many of us are not wired for emotional honesty, security, or wellbeing. We are like Semele, the mortal lover of Zeus, who was tricked into asking the Greek god into revealing his true nature -- his Godhood -- and was burned to a crisp. We must all learn to gradually tolerate the potent forces of spirituality and sexuality.
There are times we don't want to build up a tolerance, because wherever we fix our attention is setting up a tolerance. We can easily become desensitized to violence, which includes not only physical abuse but also emotional, intellectual, psychological and spiritual abuse. Like alcoholics and junkies, sex and love addicts build a tolerance for their behavior so that they need greater hits and increasing novelty to feel any arousal. We often hear of people who can't stop viewing illicit pornography or performing sex acts they previously considered unappealing. Similarly, love addicts may no longer be satisfied with compulsive texting or cyber-stalking and may take greater risks that they themselves consider irrational. Not only do addicts build up a tolerance for unhealthy behavior, but they are unable to tolerate the stress that underlies their behavior -- the stress of loneliness, disappointment, or rejection.
How do we tolerate that which is intolerable and perhaps should be? In any situation, we can always learn to tolerate our own process, and the fact that sometimes we find ourselves in very difficult circumstances. We may tolerate any situation without submitting to it. It might be counter-intuitive that the only way to create healthy tolerance in the world is to have healthy tolerance for the world.
Daily healthy sex acts
- We can learn to tolerate love, to tolerate peace. Think about tolerating peace. How long can you sit in a peaceful moment? How about in traffic? How often can you get to this peaceful place on a regular basis today?
- For some people, it can be difficult to tolerate another person's touch or eye contact. Can you tolerate a good rhythm or mood during sex without wanting to make it better (thus sometimes ruining the rhythm and the mood)?
- Expand your ability to tolerate intimacy through a physical act with your beloved today, whether holding hands or avowing your love.
For more by Alexandra Katehakis, M.F.T., click here.
For more on conscious relationships, click here.