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 comfort, decency, and identification for you to ponder and practice this week.
Meditation 1: Comfort
"Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are." -- Dinah Maria Mulock
Physical comfort is a state of ease and freedom from pain that registers in the body as relaxation and safety. All infants and children require and deserve comfort in order to develop properly. Soft cooing voices, gentle touch, smiles, cleanliness, and wholesome food all contribute to the growing body/mind. And when these basic conditions are absent in childhood, our need for comfort in adulthood can be so profound that it becomes pathological, driving us to seek mothering from anyone who will have us, to use others to fill our emptiness with sex or love, and to risk becoming addicted to a perceived source of comfort.
Most of us create relationships that provide comfort. A healthy relationship should soothe and reassure in times of struggle. But if we came from difficult families, we may find that setting up a supportive relationship is easier than maintaining one, since nurturing it requires diligence and the capacity -- which we may have never learned -- to reciprocate comfort. Over time, though, we can build connections to our self and others and enhance our ability to console ourselves and our partner, or friends and family members, without expecting them to fix us. If we can come to know the people closest to us, we learn exactly what they need in times of distress: a simple smile, a listening ear, an invitation to go for a walk.
Our surroundings reflect our power to self-comfort, our sense of healthy entitlement, and our capacity to comfort others. The smallest effort we put toward making a clean, restful space rewards us richly with physical comfort and peace of mind. Simple favorite possessions breathe life into a home while healthful foods nourish and replenish the body/mind of everyone living there. When we are comforted and give comfort, we create a foundation of strength for living.
Daily healthy sex acts
- Are you capable of self-comforting in healthy ways? If so, list the ways you comfort yourself.
- How readily available are you to comfort your lover, child, friend, or family member? What do you do that's particularly calming to each one of them?
- How comfortable is the environment you live and work in? What do you need to do to make it more so?
Meditation 2: Decency
"I wish that people who are conventionally supposed to love each other would say to each other, when they fight, 'Please -- a little less love, and a little more common decency.'" -- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Common decency may be the most crucial attribute needed for social harmony, yet it seems less common than ever. Decency implies simply being good citizens and neighbors who modulate our behaviors to conform to agreed-upon standards, including modesty, propriety, and peaceable behavior. Modern life has stretched the bounds of what's considered decent and has opened a dialogue about unchaining us from puritanical judgmentalism. Traditionalists regularly complain that any cultural development deconstructing convention in service of rightful inclusion and self-expression "rips at the very fabric of decency." But even more open-minded persons acknowledge that we now have fewer agreed-upon standards of behavior, that people must make their own decisions about decorum, and that such a self-guided compass may create a society where "anything goes, anytime," which is hardly a recipe for good citizenry or being a good neighbor.
In relationship we must ask ourselves if we're honoring our mutual contracts with our partner. Are we decent in our emotional and sexual treatment of each other? Do we tend fairly to the household, finances, children, and ourselves? Out of insecurity, do we flaunt our sexuality or money indecently to get attention? Do we ignore our children indecently because what we want is more important than their banal demands (like carpooling, help with homework, or attending another sporting event)? Knowing where to draw the line between what's decent and what isn't shows maturity, compassion, stability, and right living. When decency is "common" in our lives, our children learn -- and we recall -- what is required for a reasonable standard of life, and we leave a legacy of harmony.
Daily healthy sex acts
- How do you define the word decency? Do you adhere to its qualities as you've defined it? If not, why not?
- Is there a difference between your own code of decency and that of the culture at large? If so, how do you feel when you behave according to your own sense of decency?
- Do you practice decent behavior in your love relationship? Does your partner share the same view of decency and hold to those values?
Meditation 3: Identification
"To identify with others is to see something of yourself in them and to see something of them in yourself -- even if the only thing you identify with is the desire to be free from suffering." -- Melanie Joy
It's been frequently noted that to tell anyone, "I love you," we need first be able to declare the "I." And only when we develop a personal identity may we respond personally to life. So identification with another and with life is an art that starts with identifying ourselves. But there's a risk to thinking of all that happens only in terms of ourselves. Solipsism, the antique philosophy affirming that the universe is knowable solely through the knower's unique perspective, may become unhealthy if it justifies personalizing everything to the point of self-absorption. Someone with a preoccupied attachment style filters the world through a distorted, unmeasured egocentrism. Such a person sees a partner's independent preferences in décor, friends, or movies as a threat to the relationship. Because enmeshment was the parenting style, autonomy was never encouraged or even permitted.
In fact, most people tend to identify themselves rather narcissistically through narrow personal preferences and patriotic allegiances. It seems bizarrely superficial to build an identity based on our taste for certain flavors, clothes, or locales. Doesn't it make better sense to affirm our true selves by identifying with the universal experiences of others beyond our range of sheltered familiarity? Humanity is not one-size-fits-all, and any definition of ourselves or of others which applies stereotypical experiences broadly must miss the richness of genuine human relatedness.
Participation in support groups or community events lets us identify with people we never thought of as similar. By letting down our guard, we begin to uncover shared humanity. Like checking a side-view mirror, observing those we usually disregard can expose our own psychological blind spots. When we identify with others' trials and tribulations, we often discover unexpected truths for ourselves that might never have been brought to light.
Daily healthy sex acts
- Today, use "I" statements in all your communications. Focus only on your knowable feelings and thoughts, instead of assuming you know what's true for anyone else.
- Stop the judgments. They only serve to isolate you. Identify with everyone you encounter. Identification generates empathy and is a precursor to all personal transformation. Identify with others on their terms, not your interpretations of them, by listening carefully to their words as if each moment held special meaning.
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