It's important for mindful acts of emotional and sexual intimacy to steadily develop as a daily practice for healthy sex. To that end, the Center for Healthy Sex will publish daily meditations for you to reach your potential for sexual health. (You can subscribe for free here.) Please enjoy three meditations on the themes of attachment, autonomy, and partnership for you to ponder and practice this week.
Meditation 1: Attachment
"The fickleness of the woman I love is only equaled by the infernal constancy of the women who love me." -- George Bernard Shaw
Human beings are wired for attachment; we need other human beings from the time we're infants in order to grow, flourish, and meet our full potential. Seeking attachment is one of the primary activities of people the world over. In other words, the "boy meets girl" or "boy meets boy," or "girl meets girl" story is probably the most talked about story on the planet!
And why's that? Because through attachment to another, we learn to stand on our own two feet and safely traverse the terrain of life, knowing that someone out there "has our back." What a wonderful feeling to know that you're loved, cared for, and that you matter to one safe person in the world. And yet, human beings are funny creatures -- we want to be wildly attached and want our freedom at the same time. Examine how much you seek love and adoration and whether receiving that kind of attention brings you relief or annoyance. Learning to tolerate the intimacy that attachment demands is part of healthy loving and eroticism. Pay attention to what happens in your body when your desire for attachment is met by someone you're dating or by your partner. Some will feel soothed while others will feel "smothered."
Daily healthy sex acts:
- Notice your attachment needs today. Do you ask for comfort and soothing or do you retreat and handle things on your own? Notice your reactions when your partner wants to get emotionally close or when they express a need.
- Make a concerted effort to do what's counterintuitive, such as giving your partner a hug even if you don't feel like it. Tolerate your discomfort and breathe into the hug so as to expand your attachment system.
Meditation 2: Autonomy
"The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them." -- Thomas Merton
One of the greatest gifts we can give to our partner, and to ourselves, is to love them and let them go. Autonomy is the opposite side of attachment. Without one, we can't have the other and we need both in order to flourish. The task of love is to continue to accept those we love for who they are, even as they evolve and change. Asking someone to change their basic nature or to conform to our ideas of who they should be, at it's worst, can be an act of emotional terrorism. Likewise, ultimatums and other manipulations don't align with supporting autonomy in ourselves or in our partners. Everyone has the right to explore who they are, to search for truths about the meaning of life, and to shift and change along the way. Do you have the strength and courage to risk living an autonomous life while staying attached to the ones you love? Do you have the patience and character to support your partner in their search for autonomy?
Sexual growth and development demands the willingness to define who we are and what we do and don't like throughout the life span. Stand on your own two feet and tell your partner what you do and don't like sexually. Listen without judgment as they share the same with you. Be bold and stay curious.
Daily healthy sex acts:
- Risk being boldly autonomous today and talk to your partner about your sexual desires, fears, preferences, and fantasies.
- Invite them to do the same and listen and ask questions with an open and curious mind.
Meditation 3: Partnership
"Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; re-made all the time, made new." -- Ursula Le Guin
Today more couples than ever identify as life partners. The term points to the fact that your significant other shares a proportional part of your life. They are not your whole life, otherwise the bond might be called wholenership rather than partnership! In relationship, we share part of our lives, we share part of our day. We each do our part.
Intimate sharing is reciprocal, appropriate and measured. To know and be known doesn't mean sharing everything there is to know. In fact, too much information can easily overwhelm a relationship as much as not enough sharing causes emotional distance. Taking part is both quantitative and qualitative -- it involves real time spent together in a healthy way.
You might have experienced unhealthy models of "being part of" a relationship in the past, such as in your family of origin. Sometimes parents didn't do their part, or they didn't allow anyone else's part. What was your model for being part of something, for being in a partnership? What is your ideal partnership today, and how do you communicate your innermost relational values?
Daily healthy sex acts:
- Write for a few minutes today exploring these issues. How often do you communicate with your partner and how do you communicate? What percentage of your time is enough in a partnership? Do both partners have room for other important relationships?
- Discuss with your significant relationships what it means to each do your part.
For more by Alexandra Katehakis, M.F.T., click here.
For more on conscious relationships, click here.