THE BLOG

Fear, Sex and the Quest for More

09/14/2010 10:56 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Sex satisfies. But this satisfaction is very short lived, and even when achieved, often leads to guilt, confusion or a craving for more. Sex is an anxiety reliever, but it is also the cause of much anxiety because the satisfaction it gives does not last. When we crave sex, we are often seeking an easy access solution to relieve the craving and to discharge the tensions we keep in ourselves. Yet, this discharge is almost illusory for no sooner than we are relieved are we faced with the need to do this over and over again.

The need for sex often creates shame and guilt -- sometimes even with masturbation -- oftentimes making us feel badly about the sexual act. And so we swing... from meeting our sexual needs to repressing them-to and fro-until we can't stand ourselves. Why does this occur and what can we do about this?

In my book: "Life Unlocked: 7 Revolutionary Lessons To Overcome Fear" I address some of these issues and make recommendations about "unlocking" your caged heart. But this unlocking can sometimes take more than just intellectualizing that "sex is okay" or that "sex is okay as long as..." In the sexual act, we lose the very fears that our "brain stories" create. For just a moment, we can feel as though we are not trapped by our own thoughts -- that we are free from the frightening feelings of loneliness that we have to fight to ignore and the inevitable fears of a looming death without having lived life to the fullest. But are there other ways we can cope with our urges? And if so, what are they?

I would contend that one of the greatest reasons for the torture that we feel about life is that "what we want it to be" and "what we know it to be" are two very different things. Sex eliminates the "knowing" part and in that brief moment we are allowed to want. We expect at other times that life should, conform to some story we tell ourselves: in the worst-case scenario that we should only want sex if we are married or in a committed relationship, and in other cases, that we should only honor our sexual needs if they do not shame us.

Yet sex is designed to shame by the very act of this short-lived satisfaction. We are "duped" into believing that all of our yearnings and strivings will be satisfied. No matter how we try to "liberate" ourselves from this act, there is always some question lurking beneath the surface; we set up conflicts that we either come to accept or consent to suffer with for the rest of our lives: How do we overcome the boredom of the same sexual partner? What do we do if we want sex differently than is socially acceptable?

I think that as long as we confine ourselves to these kinds of questions, we are doomed to swing between the extremes of sexual satisfaction and repression. To truly transcend the torture of sexual longing, we have to transcend the craving. And to transcend the craving, we have to be prepared to ask some difficult questions.

So many of us feel "alive" only when they are craving. This desire for more -- this quest for satisfaction -- is what keeps us living. Whether it is sex, alcohol, drugs or food-the objects of craving matter, in a sense, less than the propensity to hanker after short-lived balms for this torturous life. So what can we do about this? I suggest that we begin by asking the following questions:

1. If I am not my craving, then what else could make me feel more alive?

2. Is there something that lies beneath the craving?

3. Am I assuming that I am incomplete when I am simply imperfect?

4. Do my "brain stories" matter? When physics teaches us that something can come from nothing, is there something beneath these stories that can help me create a more fulfilling life?

5. Should sex come from intimacy or intimacy from sex?

6. What if I lived my life as I know it to be rather than what I want it to be?

Asking these questions, and living at first with the silence within them will help draw out the answers. There are no perfect answers. But there are your answers. If you care to listen to yourself, you will see that what you think is very different from the assumptions that you guiltily partake in. To truly transcend craving and its satisfaction, we have to believe that a more powerful force beyond craving that can create satisfaction. And to know this more powerful force requires taking on the challenge of meditation without at first, all the trappings of "a spiritual life."

Choose a form of meditation that works for you; mindfulness, compassion, transcendental, Qigong, breath watching-whatever the type, a real commitment to this practice (and to the expectation of being imperfect at it) will bring about new forms of awareness that will help you understand your sexual longing in completely new ways.

Gwyneth Paltrow, David Lynch, Gisele Bundchen, Russell Simmons, Orlando Bloom and the Beatles are all examples of "modern-day" icons who are associated with celebrity, sex, power or creativity but whose core practices and curiosities have led them to meditation. I would strongly suggest that you acquaint yourself with this powerful force when trying to understand sex and craving. The real knowledge is in the experience.