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 loneliness, risk, and pleasure for you to ponder and practice this week.
Meditation 1: Loneliness
"The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself." -- Mark Twain
We always hear that getting love begins with loving ourself. Depending on others to ease our pain or erase our loneliness eventually weakens us and, therefore, proves dangerous. If our self is weak and needs other people to prop it up, it can become unable to function and can keep us from attaining emotional self-reliance. This form of weakness keeps us in toxic relationships where mutual using marks the drumbeats of the co-dependent dance. On the other hand, the absence of family, community and friendship can lead to isolation and depression. Lack of companionship, while seemingly the opposite of emotional dependency, withers our soul equally.
When loneliness is a constant state of being, it harkens back to a childhood wherein neglect and abandonment were the landscape of life. Without consistent, caring contact with adults, a young person will be left with emptiness, uncertainty about personal identity, and a fear of being alone. As is natural for such a child, either using other people to feel better or isolating into an inner world will be the "go to" survival options. But both these choices fail to allow them, as adults, to reach out to others for love, comfort, and companionship as a healthy way of validating and meeting their needs.
Both using people and isolating from them pale in effectiveness compared to seeking genuine human relatedness. If you had to use either of these maladaptive options and now live with loneliness, choosing to fill that void is a herculean feat requiring courage and diligence. Start now. Set the intention to change your pattern, then take one small step to connect sincerely with one other person or with a community. That's all it takes to begin your ascent out of loneliness. When two people gather with honesty, magic can happen.
Daily healthy sex acts
- Take a moment to think about your closest relationships. Are they a two-way street? Do they strengthen and nurture both of you, or are you taking advantage?
- Do you know the difference between loneliness and being alone? Being alone and enjoying your own company is a sign of mental health. When you are alone, do you always have the TV or music on for distraction? Can you tolerate silence or does it raise your anxiety? Challenge yourself to a silent experiment this week and turn off all distractions. Are you alone or lonely?
Meditation 2: Risk
"Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it's cracked up to be. That's why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don't risk everything, you risk even more." -- Erica Jong
When we attain a peak experience -- falling in love, having sex with a stranger, climbing a formidable mountain, skydiving -- we stretch our capacity to tolerate risk. This plasticity is life-affirming when it's creative, but destructive when we mistake recklessness for courage. Certainly, intensity is intoxicating and thrilling activities require "guts" and a suspension of good sense -- you only live once, right? Right! But constantly taking ourselves to the extreme exhausts our system and, like an addiction, goads us to seek higher "highs" just to feel alive.
For sex to intensify in a long-term committed relationship, you can also seek experiential risk, but as an inward path. Having athletic sex with your eyes closed the entire time is a solo performance and a physical workout, which is fine if that's all you want. But try risking your heart and soul to the extreme by looking deeply into your lover's eyes during love-making, and feel and see who's looking back. Many roll their eyes at the idea of making eye contact during sex: "Do we have to stare into each others' eyes? I want spontaneity!" Yet spontaneity doesn't come without risk. Showing who you really are sexually to your partner, and to yourself, can feel like jumping out of a plane because you risk looking like you don't have it all together. There is nothing suave about revealing the depths of who you are to yourself and to your lover. It can feel scary and it can activate self-judgment or criticism of the other, especially if you harbor restrictive beliefs or memories of past hurts surrounding sex. But if you want the real thrill of extreme risk, challenge yourself to find your sexual pinnacles and perigees with someone you love and who knows you well.
Daily healthy sex acts
- Are you living at risky extremes in your life? Do those extremes deprive you of other experiences, exhaust you, or keep you from having what you want?
- If you're afraid of risk and tend to deprive yourself of intense pleasure, challenge yourself today to do something extravagant that you've always wanted to do but have withheld from yourself.
- Look into your partner's eyes at the moment of orgasm and see what happens.
Meditation 3: Pleasure
"What we must work on, it seems to me, is not so much to liberate our desires but to make ourselves infinitely more susceptible to pleasure." -- Michael Foucault
In the classical myth told by Ovid, Pleasure is the daughter of Eros, the god of love, and Psyche, his earthly bride made immortal. The name Psyche shares the same root as the word psychology: spirit or mind. In one interpretation this ancient tale illustrates that pleasure is born from uniting intention and mindfulness. Indeed, this sounds like the erotic formula for every coupling from Internet dating and tearoom cruising to sex surrogacy and marriage. It can be counterintuitive, but pleasure requires planning and self-knowledge in the same way vacationing can take as much effort and thought as working.
Sexual feelings set off nerve bundles and neurochemicals within the body that are more intense and immediate than those which other enjoyable activities activate. Sex creates pleasurable sensations that are distinctly personal. Maybe this is one reason our sex organs are called private parts -- not because they must be kept private, but because intense pleasurable sensations are experienced individually. It requires effort to share our sexual pleasure with a partner. But to show pleasure is to grow pleasure for ourselves as well. Unfortunately our society often disdains any open display of sexuality, regardless of whether it's healthy or destructive.
When people compulsively pursue pleasure, especially in sex and love addiction, they're not aware how much of the hunt is actually un-pleasurable. Whenever preceding or resulting pain is greater than the fleeting payoff, we should question the effectiveness of the enterprise. We can ask ourselves whether the enjoyment creates valued memories and anecdotes for years to come, or must be crushed and hidden upon consummation. Pleasure of which we are aware, and which we can share, has life and will continue to exist -- much like the immortal Psyche.
Daily healthy sex acts
- Consider what brings you pleasure, and how you share your pleasure with others. Do you narrate the enjoyable sensations you receive like making a report? Do you convey your feelings wordlessly, with sounds or facial expressions? Or do you count on their being communicated by themselves, as through osmosis?
- Experience pleasure today, and let yourself show it. First, practice alone while shampooing your hair or brushing your teeth -- feel the intensely pleasurable sensations and relay your feelings out loud. When you feel comfortable, practice sharing your experience of simple pleasures with other people.
For more by Alexandra Katehakis, M.F.T., click here.
For more on conscious relationships, click here.